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DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigns over Wikileaks scandal

An enormous trove of emails posted online by Wikileaks showed how top names at the DNC disparaged Bernie Sanders' campaign and tried to find ways to sabotage it

by Tess Owen
Jul 24 2016, 8:25pm

US Representative for Florida Debbie Wasserman Schultz. (Jason Behnken/EPA)

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is resigning after a wikileaks email dump showed her and other DNC aides exchanging catty messages about Bernie Sanders and brainstorming about how to sabotage the Vermont senator's campaign.

But she appears to already have another position in politics: as an "honorary chair" on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign.

"There's simply no one better at taking the fight to the Republicans than Debbie," Clinton said in a statement. "Which is why I am glad that she has agreed to serve as honorary chair of my campaign's 50-state program to gain ground and elect Democrats in every part of the country, and will continue to serve as a surrogate for my campaign nationally, in Florida, and in other key states."

Wasserman Schultz's resignation announcement comes just one day before the Democratic convention kicks off in Philadelphia. The Florida congresswoman said she will step down after the convention. Her role in the convention itself has also been significantly scaled back.

"I know that electing Hillary Clinton as our next president is critical for America's future," Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. "Going forward, the best way for me to accomplish those goals is to step down as Party Chair at the end of this convention."

Related: Democratic vice presidential pick Tim Kaine known for controversial abortion, death penalty decisions

Wasserman Schultz has been under pressure to resign as chair for months amid accusations that she had unfairly tilted the DNC against Sanders by packing the committee with Clinton-ites.

The DNC is theoretically meant to be a neutral base for Democratic candidates. The emails confirmed a widespread suspicion that it is anything but.

In one email, the DNC's chief financial officer wonders whether launching a smear campaign against Sanders' alleged atheism could hurt his chances in the southern state primaries. One communications aide wonders: "if there's a good Bernie narrative for a story, which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess." In another email, Wasserman Schultz refers to Sanders' campaign manager as "an ass."

Her resignation also comes as party officials are already concerned about existing turmoil among Sanders' supporters who feel maligned by the DNC's handling of their candidate and their disapproval of Clinton's decision to pick a moderate Democrat as her VP.

Earlier on Sunday, Sanders' had called for Wasserman Schultz to resign due to her role in the scandal. After the resignation announcement, Sanders said she had 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," Sanders said in a statement. "The party leadership must also always remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race."

President Barack Obama said in a statement that he called Wasserman Schultz on Sunday and thanked her for "having my back."

Related: Wikileaks email dump suggests DNC favored Clinton over Sanders

"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," the statement said. "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."

Outside the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Bernie Sanders' supporter Shana Lin, 46, said Wasserman-Schultz "should have stepped down a long time ago when Bernie first asked her to resign."

"We now have the Wikileaks emails showing that the Democratic party was working against Bernie Sanders the whole time," she said. "It gave us validation for what we've been saying for several months."

The DNC rules committee has named Representative Marcia Fudge from Ohio as the new chair of the four-day convention.

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