By Bonnie K. Goodman
After a scandal that showed that the Democratic National Committee favored presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will resign. Wasserman Schultz announced her resignation on Sunday afternoon, July 24, 2016, after a three-day drama over emails, which saw her position within the party shrink before she was forced out of her role as chair. Wasserman Schultz resignation will be effective after the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia concludes on July 28.
In her statement announcing her resignation, Wasserman Schultz said, “Going forward, the best way for me to accomplish those goals is to step down as Party Chair at the end of this convention. As Party Chair, this week I will open and close the Convention and I will address our delegates about the stakes involved in this election not only for Democrats but all Americans.”
On Friday, July 22, Wikileaks released nearly 20,000 emails from DNC staff members. The emails detailed the DNC’s plans to undermine Sanders’ campaign during the primary season for Clinton. During the primaries, a party is supposed to remain impartial regarding their candidates running for a nomination.
The emails from the DNC chair were the most damning. According to the Hill, Wasserman Schultz wrote in May that Sanders “isn’t going to be president” and in April that he “has no understanding of” the Democratic Party. Wasserman Schultz also planned to use Sanders’ religion to undermine him with voters in the South, although they both are Jewish.
The emails showed Wasserman Schultz as defiant and arrogant and completely against Sanders’ campaign. According to Politico, the DNC chair called “Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver a ‘damn liar’ and an ‘ASS’ and said the senator has ‘never been a member of the Democratic Party and has no understanding of what we do.'” There was enough evidence to show that the DNC was biased against Sanders’ from the start of his campaign, for Clinton.
At first, the party just wanted to limit Wasserman Schultz’s involvement in the Democratic Convention. On Saturday, party officials stripped her of actively being the chair and removing her as a speaker to avoid protests from Sanders’ supporters. Then the “DNC Rules Committee named Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio as the permanent chair of the convention.” Fudge will now be responsible for gaveling each day in order and closed. However, Wasserman Schultz and her allies insisted, and now she will have a limited role, and she will address the convention, but afterward will resign her post.
Sanders called for the DNC chair’s resignation for a long time during his campaign claiming bias against him. After the emails released proved the longtime suspicion, Sanders again called for Wasserman Schultz’s resignation on Sunday morning. Sanders told Jack Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union, “I don’t think she is qualified to be the chair of the DNC, not only for these awful emails, which revealed the prejudice of the DNC, but also because we need a party that reaches out to working people and young people, and I don’t think her leadership style is doing that.”
Continuing, Sanders said, “Aside from all of that, it is an outrage and sad that you would have people in important positions in the DNC trying to undermine my campaign. It goes without saying: The function of the DNC is to represent all of the candidates — to be fair and even-minded.” On ABC’s “This Week” Sanders said, “I think she should resign, period. And I think we need a new chair who is going to lead us in a very different direction….I’m disappointed, and that’s the way it is.”
Sanders received support in his call for the DNC’s resignation from Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who wanted Wasserman Schultz to resign even before the emails were leaked. Neither did House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi come to her colleague’s defense. Additionally many party leaders wanted her removed after the embarrassing and damaging emails.
After the DNC chair had announced her resignation, Sanders issued a statement, saying, “Debbie Wasserman Schultz has made the right decision for the future of the Democratic Party. While she deserves thanks for her years of service, the party now needs new leadership that will open the doors of the party and welcome in working people and young people. The party leadership must also always remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race.” Sanders is set to address the Democratic convention on Monday evening.
After the resignation, both President Barack Obama and Clinton praised Wasserman Schultz in statements. President Obama said, “For the last eight years, Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has had my back. This afternoon, I called her to let her know that I am grateful.” As well, presumptive nominee Clinton issued a statement, “I am grateful to Debbie for getting the Democratic Party to this year’s historic convention in Philadelphia, and I know that this week’s events will be a success thanks to her hard work and leadership. There’s simply no one better at taking the fight to the Republicans than Debbie.”
GOP nominee Donald Trump has long said the Democratic Party, has been mistreating Sanders. Trump also remarked about Wasserman Schultz’s resignation via Twitter, “Today proves what I have always known, that @Reince Priebus is the tough one and the smart one, not Debbie Wasserman Shultz (@DWStweets.)” Trump tweeted a second time, saying, “Crooked Hillary Clinton was not at all loyal to the person in her rigged system that pushed her over the top, DWS. Too bad Bernie flamed out.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus also commented, “I think the day’s events show really the uphill climb Democrats face this week.” Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort also issued a statement, saying, “Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned over her failure to secure the DNC’s email servers and the rigged system she set up with the Clinton campaign. Now Hillary Clinton should follow Wasserman Schultz’s lead and drop out over her failure to safeguard top secret, classified information both on her unauthorized home server and while traveling abroad.”
DNC Vice Chair Donna Brazile will be the interim chair of the party throughout the election. The DNC will vote this week on Brazile taking over, although she has already temporarily filled that role in 2011. There is speculation that Clinton wants Housing Secretary Julian Castro to succeed Wasserman Schultz as DNC chair.
The party’s primary concern now is party unity. The emails complicate the already the delicate agreement between the Sanders and Clinton campaigns. Democrats are concerned about Sanders’ supporters rebelling at the convention; one Democrat called the situation, “gas meets flame,” all of which might backfire and hand the election to the Republicans and Trump.