Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile has denied providing Hillary Clinton with questions from a CNN town hall debate ahead of the event, despite WikiLeaks documents that suggest the former adviser to President Bill Clinton did provide a question to Clinton’s aides.
“I never had access to questions and would never have shared them with the candidates if I did,” Brazile wrote in an statement issued several hours after WikiLeaks broke the news of the alleged collaboration.
However, on March 12 — just one day before a Democratic presidential town hall debate between Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Hillary Clinton — Brazile allegedly sent an email titled “From time to time I get the questions in advance,” to Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s campaign communications director. The email provided a question about the death penalty that she said “worries me about HRC.”
The question asked:
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?
Palmieri responded to Brazile’s email with, “Yes, it is one she gets asked about. Not everyone likes her answer but can share it.” She then signaled Betsaida Alcantara, who is Clinton’s director of media planning, asking her to send Brazile Clinton’s answer on the death penalty.
In her statement on Tuesday, Brazile did not directly assert that the email was fake but suggested that Russia might have “forged” the emails in the WikiLeaks documents:
We are in the process of verifying the authenticity of these documents because it is common for Russia to spread misinformation and forge documents, but we cannot bow down to Putin’s wish and allow foreign actors to try and divid or country wight he hope of affecting the outcome on Election Day. There is too much at stake.
Barbara Levin, CNN’s vice president of communications, also denied sharing the town hall questions with Brazile in advance. She issued a statement on Tuesday following the WikiLeaks release, saying, “To be perfectly clear, we have never, ever given a town hall question to anyone beforehand.”
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