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Brazile says she found 'no evidence' that Democratic primaries were rigged for Clinton

The comments come as Brazile's account of her experience last year as DNC interim chair and her blistering criticism of the Clinton campaign have roiled Democrats.

Donna Brazile, former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, says there was no evidence the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries were rigged in Hillary Clinton’s favor.
Donna Brazile, former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, says there was no evidence the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries were rigged in Hillary Clinton’s favor.Read moreKate Patterson / For the Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Former Democratic National Committee interim chairwoman Donna Brazile said Sunday that despite a joint fund-raising agreement between the DNC and Hillary Clinton's campaign, there was "no evidence" that the 2016 presidential primaries were rigged, while her successor, Tom Perez, said the DNC is working to earn back the trust of voters.

The comments came as Brazile details the fundraising agreement in her new book, writing that it was "a cancer" that disadvantaged Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., because it gave Clinton's campaign a measure of influence over some DNC operations in exchange for helping the party raise money.

Still, asked Sunday on ABC's This Week whether the primaries were rigged in favor of Clinton, Brazile told anchor George Stephanopoulos: "I found no evidence, none whatsoever."

Perez, who took over as DNC chair after last year's election and had been a prominent Clinton surrogate, said on NBC's Meet the Press that Clinton won the nomination fairly through a series of primary elections, which were run by states. Perez pointed out that in many of the caucuses, which were run by the party, Sanders bested Clinton.

Nevertheless, he said: "We have to earn the trust of the voters, and during the process of the Democratic primary, we fell short of that, undeniably."

"When I hear the word rigged, let's be very clear. Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary by 4 million votes. The Democratic National Committee does not run elections for primaries. … States run elections, and those elections were run by the states. We run caucuses, and Bernie Sanders did very well in the caucuses."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had a similar reaction when asked on CNN's State of the Union whether she thought the primaries were rigged.

"Everyone goes back to re-litigate elections when you lose," Pelosi said. "Everybody has a version, and maybe all of it have an element of truth. But I think what we need to do is go forward."

In her ABC interview, Brazile also explained her secret deliberations about whether to initiate a complicated DNC process to replace Clinton as the nominee after her near-fainting spell on Sept. 11, 2016.

Brazile writes in her book, Hacks, that she had settled on Vice President Joe Biden as the best replacement and had serious doubts during that period about the direction of Clinton's campaign but did not initiate the process. As party chair, she did not have the power to unilaterally replace the nominee.

"I was under tremendous pressure after Secretary Clinton fainted to have a 'Plan B,'" Brazile said on ABC. "I didn't want a Plan B. Plan A was great for me. I supported Hillary, and I wanted her to win. But we were under pressure."

Brazile said she kept her own counsel during this period and did not talk about it with Biden. "This was something you play out in your mind," she said.

Brazile's book is a savage memoir of her experiences with Clinton's campaign, which she describes as mismanaged and lacking in passion. On Saturday night, after the Washington Post reported on some of Brazile's allegations and characterizations, more than 100 Clinton staffers signed an open letter disputing the former party chair's account.

"We do not recognize the campaign she portrays in the book," the letter read.

The letter also read: "We were shocked to learn the news that Donna Brazile actively considered overturning the will of the Democratic voters by attempting to replace Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine as the Democratic Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees. It is particularly troubling and puzzling that she would seemingly buy into false Russian-fueled propaganda, spread by both the Russians and our opponent, about our candidate's health."

Perez said in his Sunday interview on NBC, "The charge that Hillary Clinton was somehow incapacitated is, quite frankly, ludicrous. Hillary Clinton was a tireless senator, a tireless secretary of state, and a tireless candidate."

Brazile said she had no regrets penning a tell-all, and when Stephanopoulos questioned whether her account is helpful to the Democratic Party, she took umbrage.

"George, for those who are telling me to shut up, they told Hillary that a couple of months ago," Brazile said, referring to the release of Clinton's memoir. "You know what I tell them? Go to hell. I'm going to tell my story. … And I say go to hell because, why am I supposed to be the only person that is unable to tell my story?"