Emails indicate DNC’s Donna Brazile gave Clinton Town Hall questions preview

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WASHINGTON — An email published by WikiLeaks appears to show Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile giving the Clinton campaign a heads up on a question for  in a Town Hall last March.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders took part in the debate.

At the time, Brazile was a CNN contributor before taking over the chair position.

Brazile allegedly wrote, “From time to time I get the questions in advance,” in an email reportedly taken from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s inbox.

The subject line reportedly read, “Here’s one that worries me about HRC.”

The question laid out in the email read, “19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?”

Brazile did not deny the authenticity of the email but told U.S. News & World Report, “As a longtime political activist with deep ties in our party, I supported all of our candidates for president. I often shared my thoughts with each and every campaign, and any suggestions that indicate otherwise are simply untrue,” she wrote in a statement. “As it pertains to the CNN Debates, I never had access to questions and would never have shared them with the candidates if I did.”

The question was to be asked by Roland Martin.

Martin did not deny sharing information with Brazile. Instead, when asked by CNNMoney, he said “my questions were shared with my executive producer and several members of my TV One team.”

When asked in a followup question if he would explicitly rule out any sharing of questions with Brazile, Martin did not respond.

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Brazile said she was choosing not to view any of the emails stolen by Wikileaks. “This is exactly what the Russians intended to do. And they’re doing it,” she said.

Brazile emphasized that “I had no access to any questions” for any debate or town hall.

This is a copy of a CNN transcript from the debate:

QUESTION: I came perilously close to my own execution, and in light of that, what I have just shared with you and in light of the fact that there are documented cases of innocent people who have been executed in our country, I would like to know how can you still take your stance on the death penalty in light of what we know right now.


CLINTON: You know, this is such a profoundly difficult question. And what I have said and what I continue to believe is that the states have proven themselves incapable of carrying out fair trials that give any defendant all of the rights a defendant should have, all of the support that the defendant’s lawyer should have.

And I have said I would breathe a sigh of relief if either the Supreme Court or the states, themselves, began to eliminate the death penalty.

Where I end up is this, and maybe it is distinction that is hard to support, but at this point, given the challenges we face from terrorist activities primarily in our country that end up under federal jurisdiction for very limited purposes, I think that it can still be held in reserve for those.

CNN contributed to this report.