WikiLeaks suggests Bernie Sanders was blackmailed during Democratic Primary
Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) speaks as US Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) looks on during a campaign rally at University of New Hampshire on September 28, 2016 in Durham, New Hampshire. Photograph: (Getty)
A WikiLeaks release from this past weekend suggests that Bernie Sanders was blackmailed by the Clinton campaign when they competed during the primaries to see who would be the Democratic presidential nominee.
After being asked about the topic, Sanders made some pointed remarks about the potential impact of Clinton's wealth on her policy making decisions, discussing the possible isolating effect of extreme wealth. He told CNBC in May:
"Theoretically you can be a multibillionaire and in fact be very concerned about the issues of working people. Theoretically that's true."
Then he added, "When you hustle money like that, you don't sit in restaurants like this. You sit in restaurants where you spend, I don't know what they spend, hundreds of dollars for dinner and so forth. That's the world you are accustomed to. And that's the worldview that you adopt. I'm not going to condemn Hillary and Bill Clinton because they've made a lot of money. That type of wealth has the potential to isolate you from the reality of the world," he said.
The WikiLeaks dump shows that not only did a campaign manager object to this comment, particularly Sanders' use of the word "hustle", or highlight it as something negative in need of counter-messaging, he seemed to believe that he had control of Sanders, who crossed a line by speaking this way despite explicitly saying "I'm not going to condemn Hillary or Bill Clinton".
Here is Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook's response to this remark after the campaign brought it to his attention, as released by WikiLeaks: "This isn't in keeping w the agreement. Since we clearly have some leverage, would be good to flag this for him. I could send a signal via Welch--or did you establish a direct line w him?"
What did Clinton's campaign have "over" him? What else did this prevent him from saying or doing? Exactly how profound an impact did this have on the US election? None of this is currently evident, but Sanders' supporters are livid, and it seems they have reason to be.
WikiLeaks, months earlier, also released emails showing that the Democratic National Committee favoured Clinton over Sanders, and, as the Huffington Post reports, considered whether it would be advantageous to highlight his Jewish heritage or his identification as an atheist -- whatever would make a "several points difference with my peeps [voters]".
While Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, even still, her campaign has a lot of explaining to do.