There’s probably only one issue that Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump agree: The system is rigged.
In the primary race Sen. Sanders was on the wrong end of a ruthless Democrat Party machine. He wasn’t a woman, or a minority, he was a loud, angry, white guy with tousled hair and ideas that were outside of mainstream Democratic thought. Put more simply: He wasn’t Hillary Clinton.
As a result of that shortcoming he faced an impossibly uphill battle. The party limited the number of debates to prevent a serious challenger to Clinton, they suspended Bernie Sanders’ access to their voter file, they conspired via email to publicize his weaknesses, and they steamrolled his choices for the party committees (the groups responsible for setting the party’s platform).
“I have joined the political arena so the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves,” Trump said earlier in the campaign. “Nobody knows the system better than me which is why I alone can fix it. I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens just like it was rigged against Bernie Sanders – he never had a chance.”
Now we know that nobody really ever had a chance because Hillary Clinton had the heft of the U.S. government behind her, the result of countless friends in high places who were invested in her political success. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Hillary Clinton’s political team sought to contain any potential fallout over her use of a private email server by communicating with government agencies, enlisting help of congressional allies and managing public statements, newly released emails show.
Among the emails was one from Clinton spokesman, Brian Fallon, telling colleagues that someone from the Justice Department—where Fallon worked just months earlier—tipped him off about an upcoming court hearing to discuss the schedule for release of Clinton’s emails resulting from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.
“DOJ folks inform me there is a status hearing in this case this morning, so we could have a window into the judge’s thinking about this proposed production schedule as quickly as today,” Fallon wrote to campaign aides.
The information contained in the emails isn’t surprising, or even necessarily troubling, given that it is publicly available information and, at the time, Clinton was not under investigation for a potential felony. But what it does show is the DOJ keeping in touch with the Clinton camp and indications of an ethically questionable relationship between Brian Fallon and his former employer within the Obama Administration.
A separate batch of emails, obtained by the Republican National Committee as part of a FOIA lawsuit, found that top Obama Administration officials were in close contact with the Clinton campaign about how to handle the fallout from her use of a private email server.
Among other things, the emails show then-White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri asking State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki whether they can work together to “get this done so [John Kerry] is not asked about email” in an appearance on “Face the Nation.”
“Agree completely and working to crush on my end,” Palmieri wrote back.
Before the exchange Palmieri announced she was leaving the White House to work on Clinton’s campaign. She also actively worked to ensure Psaki replaced her.
Finally, a batch of released emails shows that CNN commentator, Donna Brazile, who would go on to become the Democrat National Committee Chair, used her various positions to help Clinton defeat Sanders. One email shows Brazile forwarding an email from the Sanders campaign announcing a Twitter effort to engage African-American voters. “FYI” Brazile wrote to Clinton staff. Another email—titled “From time to time I get the questions in advance”—seems to indicate that Brazile tipped off the Clinton camp to a tricky question that would come up during a televised debate.
None of this is necessary illegal, but that’s not the standard that needs to be applied to a presidential election. Voters need to have confidence that Washington insiders don’t have their thumb on the scale, working on behalf of their favored candidate to sway public opinion or massage the facts. It’s clear that’s not the case. Instead, we’re left with growing evidence that the system is rigged and that it will take a political outsider to clean it up.