Democratic campaign officials advised House candidates to limit the number of Black Lives Matter activists at public events and promise no support for “concrete policy positions” as lawmakers hit the campaign trail late last year, according to newly leaked documents.
The internal memo from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) leaked by the hacker Guccifer 2.0 warned staff to "be prepared" for Black Lives Matter protests and offered a set of "best practices" designed to preclude potentially embarrassing confrontations.
"Be a partner and lead from behind," reads the memo to DCCC staff, dated Nov. 19, 2015. "BLM activists don't want their movement co-opted by the Democratic Party. They are leary [sic] of politicians who hijack their message to win campaigns."
Among the advised tactics, Democrats were counseled to engage with Black Lives Matter activists and "listen to their concerns" but to do so at "personal or small group meetings."
"If approached by BLM activists, campaign staff should offer to meet with local activists," the memo says. "Invited BLM attendees should be limited."
"In less than two years, BLM has evolved from three words into a political force that is changing and waking our nation," spokeswoman Meredith Kelly said. "At the DCCC, we highly encourage our candidates to not only embrace the importance of this movement, but to meet with and listen to community activists to partner social change."
The DCCC memo was purportedly issued following a series of BLM protests against the three Democratic presidential primary candidates: Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation MORE, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Democrats urge Biden to commute sentences of 4K people on home confinement Briahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' MORE (I-Vt.) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. The activists charged that the Democrats had done too little to prioritize criminal justice reform and other race-related issues on the campaign trail.
Protesters churned headlines by interrupting Democrats’ stump speeches and other public events. At one Clinton speech last August, BLM activists threatened to protest her past positions on drug law enforcement and incarcerations, which the activists deem too severe. They were denied access to the event and ushered instead into an overflow room, where Clinton met with them privately after her speech.
The memo was part of the latest document dump from Guccifer 2.0, the shadowy persona linked to Russia that had hacked into internal DCCC and Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails earlier in the summer. One set of emails seemed to support Sanders's charges that the DNC favored Clinton in the primary contest. The revelation forced Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) to resign as head of the DNC.
Guccifer 2.0 claimed to have obtained the latest DCCC memos from the personal computer of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi's office declined to comment on Wednesday. But earlier in the month, the California Democrat said she had been briefed on the hacks and that there was no doubt who was behind them.
"I know for sure that it is the Russians," she said during a press conference in the Capitol on Aug. 11. "This is a Watergate-like electronic break-in. And anyone who would exploit them for purpose of embarrassment or something like that is an accomplice to that."
The Democrats have repeatedly raised the specter that whoever's behind the leaks could easily lie about the origin of documents or even doctor them for the purpose of affecting the outcome of the presidential contest.
Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOvernight Hillicon Valley — Hacking goes global Schiff calls on Amazon, Facebook to address spread of vaccine misinformation Spotlight turns to GOP's McCarthy in Jan. 6 probe MORE (Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, warned this week that Russian hackers have the know-how to infiltrate electronic voting machines to tamper with tallies not backed up by paper records.
But "most pernicious," he added, is the possibility that hackers could affect the election outcome by "planting documents" and "dumping documents that are false."
"For example, you could imagine in the DNC hack, if the hackers wanted they could take photo images of fake documents, something that'd be very hard to prove were fake after the fact, that suggest potential criminality of people," Schiff told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. "And that's the kind of really malicious interference that keeps me up at night."
Updated at 2:48 p.m.