A hacked e-mail published by WikiLeaks Tuesday suggests Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile leaked a question to the Clinton campaign ahead of a March 13 town hall hosted by CNN and TV One. But Brazile has flatly denied all claims.
According to Business Insider, the reports began to emerge after hacked e-mails of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta were released by Wikileaks. The suspicious correspondence between Brazile and Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri were among a trove of e-mails leaked by the organization.
“From time to time I get the questions in advance,” the former CNN contributor wrote in the e-mail subject line, dated March 12.
She went on to tell Palmieri, “Here’s the one that worries me about HRC.”
The question read:
“19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?”
A different question regarding Clinton’s stance on the death penalty was posed by an exonerated former death row inmate at the town hall meeting the following day.
Since the WikiLeaks hack, CNN has vehemently denied sending any questions to the Clinton campaign beforehand. Meanwhile, Brazile said she had been involved with “each and every” Democratic campaign, but didn’t tip Clinton off to the town hall question like the leaked e-mail suggested.
“I often shared my thoughts with each and every campaign, and any suggestions that indicate otherwise are completely untrue,” she said in a statement. “I never had access to questions and would never have shared them with the candidates if I did.”
A top Democratic Party source familiar with the e-mail debacle asserted that the question referenced in Brazile’s e-mail wasn’t for the town hall event, but instead for a panel she was scheduled to appear on, Business Insider reports.
This latest round of Wikileaks email hacks are what the Obama administration suspects to be Russian-aligned groups trying to influence the outcome and/or wreak havoc on the 2016 presidential election. The first set of leaked e-mails were published the day before the Democratic National Convention, causing a leadership shakeup that led to Brazile’s appointment as the new DNC Committee Chair.
“Our intelligence community has made it clear that the Russian government is responsible for the cyberattacks aimed at interfering with our election, and that WikiLeaks is part of that effort,” Brazile said. “This revelation should deeply trouble all Americans in both parties.”
It should be noted that while the DNC committee chair refuted claims that she leaked the town hall question to Clinton, she didn’t claim that the e-mail was fake. Russia and WikiLeaks have been known to doctor some of the documents they leaked in the past.
“We are in the process of verifying the authenticity of these documents because it is common for Russia to spread misinformation and forge documents,” Brazile said in a statement. “But we cannot bow down to Putin’s wishes and allow foreign actors to try and divide our country with the hope of affecting the outcome on Election Day. There is too much at stake.”