ATLANTA — Democratic National Committee staffers faced death and bomb threats after the leaks of internal emails last year as a result of Russian hacking, interim party chair Donna Brazile told DNC members Friday in an impassioned plea to prevent disagreements from dividing the party.
“When it comes to the staff of the Democratic Party, I will stand by them. They are the best and the brightest, the hardest working, the most dedicated. And let me say this: the most courageous people I know,” she said in the morning session, as party members gathered in Atlanta to elect new leaders. “I know people who had to march and then came home in the South to see blood on the hands of those who tried to get people to register.
“And yet I watched for the last seven months people who came to work after their lives were threatened. After they had to deal with bomb threats, after they had to deal with people who wanted to murder them,” she continued. “They came to work for you, they didn’t back down, and I will never back down for them.”
The remarks — some of Brazile’s first public comments on the topic — provide a look at the little-known details of the personal lives of party officials in the period after the emails were published in the summer of 2016.
The internal communications were widely read as showing that some staffers preferred Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders in the party’s presidential primary, and some of the divisions between those candidates’ fans are still raw. While party leaders have been eager to avoid a redux of that fight in the race for the chairmanship, for example, the matchup between Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison (a Sanders surrogate) and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez (a Clinton backer) is still seen as such a clash.
Brazile’s comments also came the same morning a party member tried to amend an official resolution thanking DNC staffers for their work in 2016 so that it would only acknowledge “most of the staff,” a reference to the divide.
“So don’t start anymore of this dis-unified party, we are unified,” Brazile told the crowd of a few hundred Democrats. “We are going to elect new officers tomorrow who are going to lead us forward.”