Donna Brazile, the interim chair of the Democratic National
Committee, appeared to tip off Hillary Clinton’s campaign about a
question in advance of a CNN Democratic primary debate in March,
hacked emails published by WikiLeaks on Monday suggested.
“One of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman
with a rash,” Brazile emailed John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign
chairman, and Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications
Brazile added: “Her family has lead poison and she will ask what,
if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the ppl of
That exact question was not asked the next night at the debate in
Flint, Michigan. But Mikki Wade, a public-housing program manager
who subsequently said in an interview that her son had developed
a rash from the contaminated water, asked Clinton about the situation with the
water in Flint.
“If elected president, what course will you take to regain my
trust in government?” Wade asked.
In October, another WikiLeaks email suggested that
Brazile leaked a question to Clinton in advance of a CNN
town-hall event in Ohio.
Brazile denied doing so, but an email later showed she had access to the
exact wording of a question from TV One moderator Roland Martin.
CNN suggested Brazile had perhaps obtained the question from
“I’ll send a few more,” Brazile said in an email at the time. “Though some
questions Roland submitted.”
At the time of the debate and town hall, Brazile was a CNN
contributor and vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.
CNN spokeswoman Lauren Pratapas said in a statement provided to
Business Insider that the network “never gave Brazile access
to any questions, prep material, attendee list, background
information, or meetings in advance of a town hall or debate.”
“We are completely uncomfortable with what we have learned about
her interactions with the Clinton campaign while she was a CNN
contributor,” Pratapas said, adding that the network had
severed ties with her on October 14.
A CNN employee told Business Insider that it was possible Brazile
obtained the question directly from the individual at a community
service event held the day before the debate. The CNN employee
said he saw Brazile strike up a conversation with a Flint
resident who showed her a rash and said she wanted to ask Clinton
about the issue facing Flint.
A representative for the DNC did not respond to a request for
Brazile later replaced Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chair of the
DNC on an interim basis following revelations from WikiLeaks over the
summer that the Democratic Party apparatus thought about ways to
tip the scales against Clinton’s biggest primary challenger, Sen.
Bernie Sanders of Vermont.