PHILADELPHIA – Hillary Clinton, who spent the entirety of her presidential primary campaign battling allegations over her improper use of a personal email server while secretary of state, once again faces an email headache just days before her crowning as the Democratic presidential nominee.
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This time, the leak of thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee, some of which indicated an anti-Bernie Sanders bias at the very top of the organization, led to the resignation of Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
The controversy now hangs over the start of the convention as Sanders supporters prepare to protest, outside and potentially inside the convention hall. On Monday, Schultz tried to explain her new role in the party, vowing to get to work electing Hillary Clinton.
“You’ll see me every day between now and November 8 on the campaign trail,” she said, even as Sanders supporters waved signs in front of her and shouted, “Shame!”
On the sidelines, Sanders supporters and others angry at the Democratic establishment are poised to turn out, potentially in the thousands, on Monday to protest all over Philadelphia. This, before the convention formally gavels in late Monday afternoon – after which Sanders himself, as well as liberal icon Elizabeth Warren, are set to speak.
But while Wasserman Schultz’ resignation could calm the email storm, the liberal wing still appears intent on protesting over other grievances including Clinton, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, picking Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia as her running mate.
Norman Solomon, a Sanders delegate from California, said Sunday that Clinton picking a centrist like Kaine is an “assault” on the progressive agenda. He said the roughly 1,250 Sanders delegates connected to his Bernie Delegates Network are considering walking out during the Virginia senator’s expected acceptance speech at the Wells Fargo Center, and they are even looking into contesting his nomination.
He said their response “reflects anger and disappointment” over Clinton and like-minded Washington Democrats’ control over the party.
“We don’t know exactly what to expect” on the convention floor, Solomon also said.
The uncertainty and rancor on several fronts puts the Democrats in a similar position as the Republicans when they entered their convention a week ago looking to soothe tensions between their presidential nominee and those who backed his primary rivals.
Only the clashes on the Democratic side have already outmatched last week’s fireworks in Cleveland, with Wasserman Schultz’ resignation standing as a stunning development on convention eve.
The political spectacle already has distracted from the historic convention where Clinton is set to become the first female presidential nominee of a major party.
“Debbie Wasserman Schultz has 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. The party leadership must also always remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race,” he said.
The resignation comes after WikiLeaks on Thursday released roughly 20,000 DNC emails, with more revelations emerging Sunday about Wasserman Schultz criticizing the Vermont senator to staffers.
“He isn’t going to be president,” she wrote in one May 21 email, also saying that Sanders vowing at the time to replace her as chairwoman was a “silly story.”
Clinton chief strategist Joel Benenson, on “Fox News Sunday,” defended the fairness of the primary elections and said the DNC would conduct a full review of the emails. He said people should not jump to conclusions.
“The DNC’s impact in these things is minimal compared to the results. What candidates and campaigns spend and do on the ground, talking to voters day in and day out, that’s what determines who wins,” he said.
On Sunday in Philadelphia, several large protests took place near City Hall, in nearly 100-degree temperatures and under the watchful eye of city police officers.
“A lot of Democratic supporters labeled Bernie Sanders supporters conspiracy theorists. The WikiLeaks confirms what we thought all along,” said Perry Mitchell, a 32-year-old Maryland who came to Philadelphia to participate in protests.