Trump Seizes on False Claim That Hillary 'Rigged' Primaries Against Bernie

| NOV 3, 2017 | 12:20 PM
Trump weekly 10-29

In a move as predictable as it is infuriating, Donald Trump has quickly capitalized on the false claim that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee “rigged” the 2016 primaries against Independent Senator and Democratic presidential primary loser Bernie Sanders, a claim that has been promoted by prominent Democratic Senator and former Republican Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

The claim rests on an excerpt from former interim DNC Chair Donna Brazile's new book, which accuses the Clinton campaign of “rigging,” but which actually describes Clinton rescuing the DNC from mismanagement and a mountain of debt. Guess which conclusion Trump went with:

It was for precisely this reason that many of the 53 million more Democrats who voted for Clinton than Sanders were furious at Brazile and Warren for promoting this falsehood. Whatever their motives, the result is a political cudgel to be used against Democrats and a welcome distraction from the exploding Mueller investigation for Trump.

MSNBC's Joy Reid posted an excellent Twitter thread exposing the ridiculousness of the premise, and Elizabeth Rogers dissected the meat of the claims, but even by Brazile's own account, once you remove her “rigging” characterization, the story is of a Democratic National Committee that would have completely collapsed if not for Clinton's intervention. It bears repeating that Brazile, herself, says there was no evidence anyone actually did anything to disadvantage Sanders, and that the fundraising itself was not illegal, but that it looked really bad:

I had tried to search out any other evidence of internal corruption that would show that the DNC was rigging the system to throw the primary to Hillary, but I could not find any in party affairs or among the staff. I had gone department by department, investigating individual conduct for evidence of skewed decisions, and I was happy to see that I had found none. Then I found this agreement.

The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.

Claims of “rigging” have been a longstanding gripe with Sanders fans and have never had much of a factual leg to stand on. Unfortunately, this kind of conspiracy-mongering only serves to hurt our shared cause and to obscure honest gripes that could be addressed.

For example, limiting the number of debates is a decision that many Berners lamented as a sign of preference for Clinton, and in a way, they were right. The intention was to prevent the damaging spectacle of a stage full of randos taking shots at the eventual nominee, whom everyone believed would be Clinton. But it would have been the case had the Democrats fielded any candidate with an incumbent's advantage over the field. This was a move aimed at protecting the party, which happened to be led by a mile by Clinton.

I believed then, and now, that it was a stupid decision that kept Democratic ideas out of a public conversation that was then dominated by Republican sh*tshows. But I don't think the debates disadvantaged Sanders nearly as much as it did the other lower-tier candidates. By the time the debates started, Sanders had significant polling support, and he was far less in need of the free boost than, say, Martin O'Malley or Jim Webb. And Clinton cleaned Sanders's clock in the debates, just as she cleaned Trump's.

And the Brazile story could have been a real wakeup call to rank-and-file Democrats about the DNC, which managed itself into a deep hole that only Clinton could pull them out of. But instead, it's just another way to prop up Trump. At least now everyone knows who Warren really is.

Watch Warren take the same side as Trump below.

Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.