CNN Parts Ways With DNC Chair Who Allegedly Passed On Debate Questions

Democratic party chairperson Donna Brazile talks with audience members before the debate between Republican vice-presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence and Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. (Joe Raedle/Pool via AP)
Joe Raedle/AP

After a stolen email published Monday by WikiLeaks purported to show that interim Democratic National Committee chair Donna Brazile shared a question with Hillary Clinton’s campaign in advance of a Democratic primary debate, CNN announced that Brazile had resigned as a commentator.

The email, hacked from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, appears to show Brazile tipping off Clinton staffers about an upcoming question in the Democratic primary debate in Flint, Michigan.

“Her family has lead poison and she will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the ppl of Flint,” Brazile wrote Podesta and Clinton’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, in a March 5 email.

The email’s subject line advertised: “One of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman with a rash.”

The debate in Flint took place the next day, on March 6.

“On October 14th, CNN accepted Donna Brazile’s resignation as a CNN contributor. (Her deal had previously been suspended in July when she became the interim head of the DNC.),” CNN spokeswoman Lauren Pratapas said in an emailed statement.

“CNN never gave Brazile access to any questions, prep material, attendee list, background information or meetings in advance of a town hall or debate. We are completely uncomfortable with what we have learned about her interactions with the Clinton campaign while she was a CNN contributor,” the statement continued.

Brazile acknowledged her resignation Monday on Twitter and thanked CNN:

Brazile denied having access to any questions or sharing them with the Clinton campaign after another WikiLeaks release earlier this month purported to show her leaking a Democratic town hall question to the Clinton campaign.

“As a longtime political activist with deep ties to our party, I supported all of our candidates for president,” she said at the time. “I often shared my thoughts with each and every campaign, and any suggestions that indicate otherwise are simply untrue. 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.”

The Clinton campaign so far has not commented on the veracity of any emails published by WikiLeaks. Asked for comment on the latest purported Brazile email, a spokesman for the campaign said in a statement that FBI Director James Comey should announce any investigations regarding ties between Trump associates and the Russian government.

“The nominee of what was once the party of Reagan is taking Putin’s denial of the hacking over the clear conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community, the Republican Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and even his own running mate,” Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin said in an emailed statement. “Trump’s longtime associate Roger Stone has admitted to ‘back-channeling’ with Julian Assange and even predicted that Podesta would be next as far back as August. Director Comey needs to clearly tell the American people whether he is investigating any Trump associates for potential coordination with the Russians on the weaponizing of this cyberattack.”

The Hill noted that no one audience member featured during the debate exactly fit the description in the purported Brazile email, although there were many questions about Flint’s lead-tainted water crisis. One such question came from Lee-Anne Walters, who asked both candidates, “After my family, the city of Flint and the children in D.C. were poisoned by lead, will you make a personal promise to me right now that, as president, in your first 100 days in office, you will make it a requirement that all public water systems must remove all lead service lines throughout the entire United States, and notification made to the — the citizens that have said service lines?”

The hacked email follows another published earlier this month by WikiLeaks that Brazile allegedly sent to Palmieri on March 12, in which she says “From time to time I get the questions in advance.” She also warns Palmieri of a question about the death penalty that came up in another CNN-hosted debate, the following day.