UPDATED, 10:58 AM: Despite her pending resignation as DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz still was scheduled to gavel in the Democratic National Convention and likely deliver a speech — until today. The Florida congresswoman, who was booed by Bernie Sanders backers at her home state’s breakfast meeting this morning, will not open the gathering today after all and won’t speak at the quadrennial confab. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, who also is secretary of the DNC, will drop the gavel to open the convention today at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
PREVIOUSLY, July 24: In the wake of this week’s embarrassing email dump by Wikileaks, Debbie Wasserman Schultz said today that she will step down as chairman of the Democratic National Committee after the party’s convention this week.
She said in a statement that her resignation is the “best way” to help get Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton elected in November.
(UPDATE: CNN has suspended Brazile’s contract. Read full story here.) Donna Brazile, the committee’s vice chair for civic engagement and voter participation and a CNN political commentator, will take over as chair on an interim basis. No word yet on how the new gig will affect her status with the cable news net.
Wikileaks on Friday released more than 20,000 emails from party officials that appear to support Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ claim that Democratic National Committee — and Wasserman Schultz in particular — treated him unfairly as he challenged Clinton for the Dem nomination.
In one email exchange, DNC communications director Luis Miranda asked Wasserman Schultz if they should protest a CNN report that included Sanders saying said he would sack her as chair if he were elected. “Do you all think it’s worth highlighting for CNN that her term ends the day after the inauguration, when a new D.N.C. Chair is elected anyway?”Miranda wrote, to which Wasserman Schultz replied: “This is a silly story. He isn’t going to be president.”
Another email from committee’s CFO Brad Marshall to Miranda and deputy communications director Mark Paustenbach seems to be mulling an opportunity to use Sanders’ religion as a way to sway Southern voters against him: “It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.”
President Obama released a statement about Wasserman Schultz’s pending resignation:
“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. Her leadership of the DNC has meant that we had someone who brought Democrats together not just for my re-election campaign, but for accomplishing the shared goals we have had for our country. Her critical role in supporting our economic recovery, our fights for social and civil justice and providing health care for all Americans will be a hallmark of her tenure as Party Chair. Her fundraising and organizing skills were matched only by her passion, her commitment and her warmth. And no one works harder for her constituents in Congress than Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Michelle and I are grateful for her efforts, we know she will continue to serve our country as a member of Congress from Florida and she will always be our dear friend.”