It sure looks like Donna Brazile tipped off the Clinton camp to a CNN town hall question (Update)

posted at 7:21 pm on October 11, 2016 by John Sexton

Earlier today Jazz wrote about emails which indicate then DNC vice-chair Donna Brazile apparently tipped the Clinton campaign about some online activity the Bernie Sanders campaign was about to launch. Another email discovered in the Wikileaks dump of John Podesta emails shows Brazile sent the Clinton campaign a heads up on March 12 2016 with the subject line “From time to time I get the questions in advance.” Here’s what the email said:

Here’s one that worries me about HRC.

DEATH PENALTY

19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?

Brazile received an acknowledgement from Clinton campaign bigwig Jennifer Palmieri a few hours later.

What’s significant about this email is that the very next day, March 13, 2016, Hillary Clinton appeared at a town hall event in Ohio hosted by CNN’s Jake Tapper and TVOne’s Roland Martin. During that town hall Hillary Clinton was indeed asked about the death penalty using some of the exact same language used in the question Brazile had forwarded. You can see it yourself in the video below at 1:03:30 but here’s how the question was framed by Roland Martin during the town hall:

Secretary Clinton, since 1976, we have executed 1,414 people in this country. Since 1973, 156 who were convicted have been exonerated from the death row. This gentleman here is one of them. This is Ricky Jackson, wrongfully convicted of murder in 1975, he spent 39 years in prison. He is undecided. Ricky, what is your question?

Ricky Jackson then asked how Clinton could support the death penalty knowing “what we know right now.” Clinton gave a nearly 3 minute answer to that question.

CNN has denied it was possible for anyone to have the questions in advance, telling the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple, “We have never, ever given a town hall question to anyone beforehand.” Brazile, now the chairman of the DNC, also denied it in a lengthy statements given to the Post which reads in part, “As it pertains to the CNN Debates, I never had access to questions and would never have shared them with the candidates if I did.”

That’s all pretty much what you’d expect everyone to say when caught red-handed. But look again at the subject line, “From time to time I get the questions in advance.” What questions? Questions for what? And then look at how similar the question Brazile forwarded is to the one that was asked:

Forwarded:

“…since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S.”

Asked:

“Secretary Clinton, since 1976, we have executed 1,414 people in this country. Since 1973, 156 who were convicted have been exonerated from the death row.”

Are we supposed to believe that Donna Brazile forwarded a question this similar to the one Clinton was asked a day later but that the two things were not connected somehow?

Finally, consider that the question forwarded to Clinton by Brazile was specifically about the death penalty in Ohio, which just happened to be where the town hall was talking place the next day.

Add all of that up and it’s really asking a lot to ask us to believe a flat denial that these two things are connected, especially when no one is offering an alternative explanation. Until Brazile and CNN come up with a more credible excuse (or claim the email was fabricated), I’m going to choose to believe my lying eyes.

Update: CNN has a non-denial from Roland Martin:

Martin did not deny sharing information with Brazile. Instead, when asked by CNNMoney, he said “my questions were shared with my executive producer and several members of my TV One team.”

When asked in a followup question if he would explicitly rule out any sharing of questions with Brazile, Martin did not respond.

Brazile is still claiming she didn’t have access to the questions but with Martin refusing to rule out having shared this with her, her denial looks pretty thin at this point.


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