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Leaked DNC emails reveal secret plans to take on Sanders
Top officials at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) privately planned how to undermine Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign, according to a trove of emails released by WikiLeaks on Friday.
The Sanders campaign had long claimed the DNC and Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz had tipped the scales in favor of Hillary Clinton during the party's presidential primary.
The email release will reignite that controversy just days before Democrats gather in Philadelphia for their convention to officially nominate Clinton for president.
Guccifer 2.0 told The Hill he leaked the documents to Wikileaks.
In one May 21 email, DNC press secretary Mark Paustenbach writes to communications director Luis Miranda about planting a narrative to the media that Sanders's "campaign was a mess."
"Specifically, [Wasserman Schultz] had to call Bernie directly in order to get the campaign to do things because they'd either ignored or forgotten to something critical," he wrote.
"It's not a DNC conspiracy, it's because they never had their act together," Paustenbach concluded.
In another email from early May, DNC CFO Brad Marshall appears to write about a plan to question Sanders's religion.
The email does not name the Vermont senator, but it talks about a man of "Jewish heritage" Marshall believes to be an atheist. It makes reference to voters in Kentucky and West Virginia, two states that were holding upcoming primary elections.
"It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist," the email says.
Marshall did not respond to a request for comment. But he did tell The Intercept, which first noticed the email, "I do not recall this. I can say it would not have been Sanders. It would probably be about a surrogate."
Emails from Wasserman Schultz pertaining to Sanders show a frustration with his campaign's claims of DNC bias and with media reports focused on Sanders's battles with the committee.
Wasserman Schultz sent an email to NBC anchor Chuck Todd with the subject line "Chuck, this must stop," and set up a time for the two to talk about MSNBC's "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski calling on Wasserman Schultz to step down.
In another email chain, Miranda said Brzezinski was willing to talk with Wasserman Schultz.
"She's already served as a judge and jury without even bothering to talk to me. Not sure why I should trust having a conversation with her would make any difference. Or that she even matters, to be frank," Wasserman Schultz wrote back after a brief exchange.
In response to a New York Times story about Sanders's defiance in the wake May's unruly Democratic state convention in Nevada, Wasserman Schultz wrote: "Every time they get caught doing something wrong, they use the tactic of blaming me. Not working this time."
Jonathan Easley and Evelyn Rupert contributed.
Updated at 3:36 p.m.