On Friday, WikiLeaks published 20,000 internal emails taken from the Democratic National Committee. The one getting perhaps the most attention was a message from DNC CFO Brad Marshall, in which he appears to be looking to find someone to ask presidential candidate Bernie Sanders whether or not he believed in God. (Marshall denied that the email was in reference to Sanders.)
Here’s the relevant email:
To: MirandaL@dnc.org, PaustenbachM@dnc.org, DaceyA@dnc.org
Date: 2016-05-05 03:31
Subject: No shit
It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we 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. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.
The message was sent to DNC communications director Luis Miranda, CEO Amy Dacey, and deputy communications director Mark Paustenbach. Dacey responded to the email with a one-word reply: “AMEN.”
Marshall told the Intercept’s Sam Biddle, “I do not recall this. I can say it would not have been Sanders. It would probably be about a surrogate.”
The email came ahead of the May 10 Democratic primaries in West Virginia and Kentucky when Clinton had all but sewed up the nomination and Sanders was continuing to fight on. Sanders ultimately lost Kentucky and won West Virginia.
Sanders has said this about his Jewish heritage: “I'm very proud of being Jewish. And that's an essential part of who I am as a human being.”
But he downplayed what that Jewish heritage meant on the campaign trail, as the New York Times noted in a February article. As the Times also reported, Sanders had declined to say whether he believed in God or not when directly asked:
In October, Mr. Sanders was asked on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” whether he believed in God.
“What my spirituality is about is that we’re all in this together and it’s not a good thing to believe that as human beings we can turn our backs on the suffering of other people,” he responded. “This is not Judaism. This is what Pope Francis is talking about, that we cannot worship just billionaires and the making of more money.”
If the DNC wanted to draw Sanders' beliefs out in order to hurt his campaign and help Hillary Clinton's, it would be the clearest example yet that the supposedly neutral group was not at all.