Donna Brazile, the former interim chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said critics of her forthcoming book critical of Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign can “go to hell," while the current DNC chair, Tom Perez, said one of the book's most controversial claims is "without merit."
In an interview on ABC’s This Week, Brazile defended her contention that she once considered using her powers to remove Clinton from atop the 2016 presidential ticket. When Clinton fainted in New York City while suffering a bout of pneumonia, Brazile said she considered replacing her and her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, with Biden and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.
“I had to put it on the table, George, because I was under tremendous pressure after Sec. Clinton fainted to quote unquote have a Plan B. I didn’t want a Plan B. Plan A was great for me. I supported Hillary and I wanted her to win," said Brazlie.
In a separate interview on NBC's Meet the Press, Perez called "the charge that Hillary Clinton was somehow incapacitated ... quite frankly ludicrous." She was a "tireless candidate," and besides, Brazile did not have the power to remove Clinton, he said. The claim will make people “perhaps start wondering about other claims in the book," he said.
Even as Brazile is critical of a special fundraising agreement between the campaign and the DNC, when asked if the primaries were rigged for Clinton and against Sanders, she said: “I found no evidence, none whatsoever.”
The Democratic Party tensions displayed on Sunday come two days before the gubernatorial election in Virginia in which the Republican, Ed Gillespie, is narrowing the gap with the Democrat, Ralph Northam, making some party officials anxious. Yet Brazile said she is determined to speak out, describing a heated 2016 primary and general election season that also included threats to herself and her staff and the hacking of the DNC by Russian-aligned interests.
"For those who are telling me to shut up ... you know what I tell them? Go to hell," said Brazile. "This was worse than Hurricane Katrina in terms of the emotional toll," she said. "They don't know what it was like to be over at the DNC," including protecting the staff, she said. "I'm going to tell my story," said Brazile.
Brazile was responding to a letter from 94 former Clinton campaign members that says she is misrepresenting the campaign and blasted her for once considering removing Clinton as the party's presidential nominee. "Donna came in to take over the DNC at a very difficult time," said the letter, published on the website Medium. "We were grateful to her for doing so. She is a longtime friend and colleague of many of us and has been an important leader in our party. But we do not recognize the campaign she portrays in the book."
In her book Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House, Brazile alleges that before Clinton became the Democratic nominee, her campaign signed a joint fundraising agreement with the DNC and Hillary Victory Fund, in which her campaign would finance the DNC in exchange for oversight from the Clinton campaign. Usually, the nominee doesn't take over fundraising until after the nomination has been accepted.
“I’m trying to write a check for something,” Brazile said on ABC, and then she was told: “You’ve got to get sign off from Brooklyn,” where Clinton’s campaign was headquartered. “I got sick and tired of people telling me how to spend money,” she said.
Yet, during the interview, Brazile also did not dispute that the Bernie Sanders campaign was offered the same type of arrangement. "I'd never seen that before," said Brazile. "I did not like the fact there was an official memorandum that spelled out what the Clinton campaign would do in exchange for bailing out the Democratic Party," she said, also acknowledging the party was deep in debt.
Perez pushed back against Brazile's contention that the primary process was rigged. He said Clinton won by 4 million more votes in primaries, which are controlled by the states, whereas Sanders did well in caucus votes, a process which the party does control.
In their letter, the former Clinton staffers also accuse Brazile of buying into "false Russian-fueled propaganda, spread by both the Russians and our opponent" about Clinton's failing health.