Former Democratic National Committee (DNC) interim chairwoman Donna Brazile on Sunday further stirred the pot among Democrats, who are already reeling from her revelations about the DNC during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Democrats are confronting the implications from excerpts of Brazile's forthcoming book, “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House,” including the possibility that the 2016 primary was rigged in favor of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden sends 'best wishes' to Clinton following hospitalization The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle MORE at the expense of her opponent, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks Sanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Sanders blames media for Americans not knowing details of Biden spending plan MORE (I-Vt.).
Some Democrats are calling for party reform, while others are downplaying Brazile's account.
The former chairwoman appeared to backtrack during a Sunday show interview over the implication that the primary was rigged, but much of the damage has already been done.
“I found no evidence, none, whatsoever,” Brazile told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week" when asked about charges of rigging.
“The only thing I found, which I said, I found the cancer, but I’m not killing the patient, was this memorandum that prevented the DNC from running its own operation," she said.
The explosive suggestion was first described in an excerpt of Brazile's book published Thursday in Politico, in which she described a fundraising arrangement between the Clinton campaign, the DNC and Clinton’s joint fundraising committee that said the campaign would “control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised.”
“The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical,” Brazile wrote of the agreement.
“If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity," she continued.
The Hill has reached out to Brazile for clarification on the apparent discrepancy between the excerpt and her comments Sunday morning. She declined to comment for this story, but previously told The New York Times that a non-disclosure agreement reached with her book publisher prevents her from speaking about its full contents.
Her disclosure re-opened a party rift that Democrats had sought to move on from after a contentious primary. Brazile defended her right to speak out, which some in her party criticized, especially during the lead-up to important state elections in Virginia and New Jersey.
“George, for those who are telling me to shut up, they told Hillary that a couple months ago. You know what I tell them? Go to hell. I’m going to tell my story,” Brazile said on ABC.
Tom PerezThomas PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE, the DNC’s current chairman, on Sunday dismissed a claim in the book about Clinton’s health that was first reported by The Washington Post. He suggested that what he characterized as an inaccurate claim could cause others to question the book’s credibility.
“Hillary Clinton was anything but incapacitated. She was tireless. She was a workhorse and frankly what saddens me about this as much as anything is I think people who read that charge, which is just without merit, are going to perhaps start wondering about other claims in the book,” Perez said.
Former Clinton staffers have also pushed back on Brazile’s claim, writing in an open letter that they “do not recognize the campaign she portrays in the book."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in her own Sunday show interview emphasized that the Democratic Party must move forward, but also slammed the party’s use of super delegates, or officials who are not bound to a specific candidate and can choose the candidate they vote for at the nominating convention.
“Not knowing the facts of what it is, I would hope that there's another side to the story,” Pelosi told CNN’s “State of the Union” about Brazile’s disclosures. “But that — again, that's neither here nor there. It's almost a waste of time, except for people to put their view of it on the record.”
The fiery Politico excerpt even caused Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenMisguided recusal rules lock valuable leaders out of the Pentagon Biden's soft touch with Manchin, Sinema frustrates Democrats Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (D-Mass.) to say on television last week that she believes the Democrats’ nominating process was rigged.
The old rift between Clinton's camp and Sanders backers pits the establishment wing of the party, which largely backed Clinton during the primary, against the more progressive wing of the party that supported Sanders’ insurgent campaign.
DNC deputy chairman Rep. Keith EllisonKeith EllisonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats to scale back agenda Minnesota AG ups charges against ex-police officer in shooting of Daunte Wright Trump campaign, RNC refund donors another .8 million in 2021: NYT MORE (D-Minn.), who received Sanders’ support in his bid for the DNC chairman position, called for transparency in the wake of the disclosure and vowed to work toward changes to prevent such a fundraising arrangement from taking hold in the future.
“We must heed the call for our party to enact real reforms that ensure a fair, open and impartial nominating process in elections to come,” said Ellison in a statement reported by The Washington Post.
“I’m committed to working with Chairman Perez to make the DNC more transparent and accountable to the American people, whether that’s by ensuring that debates are scheduled far ahead of time or by guaranteeing that the terms of joint fundraising agreements give no candidate undue control or influence over the party," he said.
And while Brazile’s disclosure seems to mainly impact the Democratic party, an interparty conflict could be a boon to the GOP. President TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE helped fan the flames of the controversy last week.
“The real story on Collusion is in Donna B's new book. Crooked Hillary bought the DNC & then stole the Democratic Primary from Crazy Bernie!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanJuan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' Cheney allies flock to her defense against Trump challenge MORE (R-Wis.) also weighed in Sunday on the news from Brazile, saying he doesn’t blame Democrats who are troubled by her description of the campaign’s relationship with the DNC.
“I’ve never seen anything like that. I mean, we all said that the Clintons thought they lived above the rules, but this takes the cake. I mean this is pretty amazing. For them to basically be running the DNC in a primary,” Ryan told “Fox News Sunday.”
"To see such a deck stacked is really pretty jaw-dropping to me. No wonder the Democrats are ticked off," he continued. "I would be, too.”
— Updated 4:35 p.m.