Color me skeptical about today’s big reveal from Donna Brazile on Hillary Clinton and the corruption of the DNC. Politico offers its readers a sneak peak from Brazile’s upcoming book Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-Ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, although oddly a section in which hacks have almost no role. Instead, the longtime political operative shares in this passage her shock, shock that the Clinton machine executed a takeover of the DNC long before the primaries began.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not skeptical about Hillary/DNC corruption, which had been widely speculated all along and then revealed by the DNC hack. The skepticism comes from Brazile’s self-portrait of a wide-eyed naïf who gamely uncovers Hillary as the Old Man Withers of the DNC Scooby-do:
Right around the time of the convention the leaked emails revealed Hillary’s campaign was grabbing money from the state parties for its own purposes, leaving the states with very little to support down-ballot races. A Politico story published on May 2, 2016, described the big fund-raising vehicle she had launched through the states the summer before, quoting a vow she had made to rebuild “the party from the ground up … when our state parties are strong, we win. That’s what will happen.”
Yet the states kept less than half of 1 percent of the $82 million they had amassed from the extravagant fund-raisers Hillary’s campaign was holding, just as Gary had described to me when he and I talked in August. When the Politico story described this arrangement as “essentially … money laundering” for the Clinton campaign, Hillary’s people were outraged at being accused of doing something shady. Bernie’s people were angry for their own reasons, saying this was part of a calculated strategy to throw the nomination to Hillary.
I wanted to believe Hillary, who made campaign finance reform part of her platform, but I had made this pledge to Bernie and did not want to disappoint him. I kept asking the party lawyers and the DNC staff to show me the agreements that the party had made for sharing the money they raised, but there was a lot of shuffling of feet and looking the other way.
When I got back from a vacation in Martha’s Vineyard I at last found the document that described it all: the Joint Fund-Raising Agreement between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America.
The agreement—signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias—specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.
Brazile doesn’t just throw former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz under the bus. Brazile throws her under an entire fleet of buses, a couple of Mack trucks, and a steamroller to boot. Everything in this was the fault of DWS, according to Brazile, who kept fellow DNC officers in the dark over fundraising and spending issues. Among those DNC officers is Brazile herself, who — at least in this passage — never offers any explanation as to why she and others didn’t do their own due diligence on those issues.
The writing style only stokes the skepticism even further. At every step, Brazile is both Sherlock Holmes and the innocent kid in Eight Men Out pleading “Say it ain’t so, Joe!” When she finds out the DNC is in debt, Brazile says she screamed, “What? … They’ve been telling me everything is fine…” When she hears the DNC arranged a loan to continue operations, Brazile claims her response was, “No! That can’t be true! … How did they do this without me knowing?” Later, Brazile claims that she had to ask Gary Gensler what the DNC’s burn rate was, as if she couldn’t have gleaned a rough estimate of that herself from FEC disclosure filings. And yet, Brazile wants everyone to believe that she alone unraveled the Great Mystery of Clintonian Control of the DNC. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
Let’s recall at this point that Brazile was no naïf. She has worked on major campaigns since 1984’s Walter Mondale-Geraldine Ferraro campaign, and she was Al Gore’s campaign manager in the 2000 election. Brazile held a DNC office for a reason — she’s been an insider for decades. As an officer, she had a duty to keep an eye on Wasserman Schultz and to know the operations of the DNC.
That’s the point, though, and the message — I knew nothing, nothing! — gets made with a sledgehammer. Brazile’s not worried at this point about admitting her own negligence and failure in her role as a DNC officer; she just wants to separate herself as much as possible from the stink of Hillary Clinton. That would be a neat trick, since Brazile infamously got cashiered from her gig at CNN for passing Hillary debate questions. Brazile is as much a part of Hillary Clinton corruption as Wasserman Schultz was even apart from the DNC. Hacks is a particularly apt title for this tome.
Still, this attempt at rewriting history is certainly instructive. Hillary Clinton still appears to harbor some ambitions for national prominence, and might have designs on another run at the presidency. The story told by Brazile will not just be a roadblock to any remaining ambitions, but also will make it clear that the Clintons have been a far more corrupting influence on the 2016 elections than the Russians ever aspired to be. Right now, it looks like everyone but Hillary is abandoning the SS Clinton. For that reason alone, it’s worth passing the popcorn around and watching the meltdown on the other side of the fence from Brazile’s “reveal.”