On Sunday afternoon, Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz released a statement announcing what was euphemistically dubbed her “concluding tenure,” to occur at the close of the party’s nominating convention in Philadelphia later this week.
“Going forward, the best way for me to accomplish those goals is to step down as Party Chair at the end of this convention,” she said in the statement’s final paragraphs. “As Party Chair, this week I will open and close the Convention and I will address our delegates about the stakes involved in this election not only for Democrats, but for all Americans. We have planned a great and unified Convention this week and I hope and expect that the DNC team that has worked so hard to get us to this point will have the strong support of all Democrats in making sure this is the best convention we have ever had.”
After the statement went public, the Democrats quickly announced that DNC vice chair Donna Brazile will serve as interim chairwoman through the election in November. Earlier in the day, it was announced that Schultz had been scrapped from the upcoming convention’s schedule, and would not preside over the four-day event.
Schultz’s resignation comes amidst the news of leaked DNC emails, published by Wikileaks, implicating the DNC in attempts to harm Sen. Bernie Sanders, the self-identifying democratic socialist and Hillary Clinton’s main rival in the primaries. (The DNC is, of course, supposed to remain neutral, and not favor one Democratic presidential candidate over another.)
For instance, leaked documents show a DNC staffer suggest using Sanders’s faith (or lack thereof) as a talking point against him, wondering if they could “get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist.”
Even before these hacked emails surfaced online, Schultz had already made herself the target of Sanders supporters’ ire, having long been perceived as an ardent Hillary fan determined to sabotage the Vermont senator’s long-shot chance at securing the Democratic presidential nomination.
In May, the Sanders campaign slammed Schultz’s leadership, and accused her of “throwing shade” at Bernie ever since the launch of his insurgent presidential bid that brought him new attention as a progressive darling. On Sunday morning, Sanders himself called the new email revelations an “outrage” and “sad,” but also said that they don’t come as “a great shock” and that the DNC was “at opposition to our campaign” all along. (Earlier this month, Sanders officially endorsed Clinton, the presumptive nominee, in a show of party unity.)
With DWS’s resignation now officially on the horizon, many of Bernie Sanders’s staunchest supporters (unsurprisingly) took to social media to rejoice and call for further action.
On Sunday afternoon, President Barack Obama issued a brief statement, patting the outgoing DNC chair and his “dear friend” on the back.
“For the last eight years, Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has had my back,” the president said. “This afternoon, I called her to let her know that I am grateful.”
—with additional reporting by Alexa Corse