Hacked emails cast doubt on party unity

Op­ti­mism fades as emails sug­gest DNC played favourites


PHIL­A­DEL­PHIA — On the heels of a tu­mul­tuous Repub­li­can con­ven­tion, Hil­lary Clin­ton hopes her gather­ing in Phil­a­del­phia will show off a for­ward-look­ing Demo­cratic party united be­hind her steady lead­er­ship. But to do that, she must over­come lin­ger­ing bit­ter­ness among sup­port­ers of de­feated ri­val Bernie San­ders and a po­lit­i­cal mess and last-minute lead­er­ship shakeup of the party’s own mak­ing.

The Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion was set to kick off Mon­day as a week of op­ti­mistic cel­e­bra­tion with high-pow­ered elected of­fi­cials and celebri­ties rein­tro­duc­ing Clin­ton to a gen­eral elec­tion au­di­ence. But the ef­fort was com­pli­cated by the pub­li­ca­tion of 19,000 hacked emails on the web­site Wik­iLeaks, sug­gest­ing the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee had played favourites for Clin­ton dur­ing the pri­mary.

The chair of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee, Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz, an­nounced abruptly Sun­day that she would step down at week’s end. San­ders had called ear­lier Sun­day for her de­par­ture.

Wasser­man Schultz has been a light­ning rod through­out the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign for crit­i­cism from the party’s more lib­eral wing, with San­ders re­peat­edly ac­cus­ing the na­tional party of favour­ing Clin­ton de­spite of­fi­cially be­ing neu­tral.

“I’m not shocked, but I’m dis­ap­pointed,” San­ders said of the hacked emails, one of which ques­tioned whether his re­li­gious be­liefs could be used against him, on ABC’s “This Week.”

Clin­ton and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama each re­leased state­ments prais­ing Wasser­man Schultz’s lead­er­ship.

“There’s sim­ply no one bet­ter at tak­ing the fight to the Re­pub­li­cans than Deb­bie,” Clin­ton said.

The self-in­flicted wounds could ham­per the Clin­ton cam­paign’s ef­fort to por­tray the con­ven­tion in a dif­fer­ent light from the just-con­cluded Repub­li­can gather­ing in Cleve­land. Don­ald Trump ac­cepted the GOP nom­i­na­tion, but party di­vi­sions flared when his chief ri­val, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, re­fused to en­dorse the bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man.

Trump ap­peared to rel­ish in the Demo­cratic chaos, writ­ing, “The Dems Con­ven­tion is crack­ing up.”

San­ders will ad­dress the con­ven­tion Mon­day night, and Obama will speak on Wed­nes­day night.

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