The Democratic National Committee actively worked against Sen. Bernard Sanders during the party’s presidential primary, leaked emails show, with officials privately strategizing how best to push stories that would hurt the Vermont senator’s campaign.
The batch of nearly 20,000 emails, released Friday by WikiLeaks, surfaced just days before the party convention begins in Philadelphia and is sure to add new fuel to Mr. Sanders’s longstanding contention that Democratic leadership wanted him to lose and Hillary Clinton to win. The leak also could anger Sanders supporters, some of whom already are planning to protest at the Philadelphia convention.
In one message, DNC Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall suggests getting reporters to ask Mr. Sanders about his faith, with the belief that his answer could hurt him in states such as Kentucky and West Virginia.
“It might [make] no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage” he said in the email, sent to other DNC officials. “I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.”
In May, the DNC also tried to push the narrative that Mr. Sanders’s campaign was falling apart.
“Wondering if there’s a good Bernie narrative for a story, which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess,” DNC press secretary Mark Paustenbach wrote in one email. “It’s not a DNC conspiracy, it’s because they never had their act together.”
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has made a direct appeal to Sanders supporters, jumped on the email leak.
“Leaked e-mails of DNC show plans to destroy Bernie Sanders,” he tweeted Saturday morning. “Mock his heritage and much more. On-line from Wikileaks, really vicious. RIGGED.”
The DNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.