PHILADELPHIA (UPI) — Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced Sunday she will step down as Democratic National Committee chairwoman after leaked internal emails suggested favoritism toward Hillary Clinton.
Schultz, also a member of the House of Representatives from South Florida, had decided not speak at the convention this week before she made the announcement and her party stripped her role in Philadelphia.
“Going forward, the best way for me to accomplish those goals is to step down as Party Chair at the end of this convention,” Wasserman Schultz said in her statement. “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,” she said. “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.”
Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio will serve as convention chairwoman as ratified by the convention’s Rules Committee on Saturday night. Wasserman Schultz was the temporary chair of the convention until the Rules Committee approved Fudge.
DNC Vice Chairwoman Donna Brazile will serve as interim chair through the election, it was announced Sunday. Brazile, who has been a CNN and ABC commentator, served in the party role on an interim basis in the spring of 2011.
Clinton’s primary rival, Bernie Sanders, earlier said Sunday on ABC’s This Week saying, “I think she should resign, period.”
Later in a statement, he said: “Debbie Wasserman Schultz has made the right decision for the future of the Democratic Party. While she deserves thanks for her years of service, the party now needs new leadership that will open the doors of the party and welcome in working people and young people. The party leadership must also always remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race.”
Obama, who appointed Wasserman Schultz to the post in 2011, issued a statement, saying, “For the last eight years, Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has had my back. This afternoon, I called her to let her know that I am grateful.”
“Her leadership of the DNC has meant that we had someone who brought Democrats together not just for my re-election campaign, but for accomplishing the shared goals we have had for our country,” the president added.
And Clinton thanked Wasserman Schultz for her work with the party. “I am grateful to Debbie for getting the Democratic Party to this year’s historic convention in Philadelphia, and I know that this week’s events will be a success thanks to her hard work and leadership,” Clinton said.
Republican nominee Donald Trump responded to the news, tweeting, “I always said that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was overrated. The Dems Convention is cracking up and Bernie is exhausted, no energy left!
Barney Frank, co-chairman of the convention’s rules committee and a former member of the U.S. House, said Fudge’s appointment as permanent chairman wasn’t related to the email controversy.
“She was never going to be the permanent chairman of the convention,” Frank told the Washington Post that the “The national chair is never the permanent chair of the convention.”
Wikileaks released national committee emails, including correspondence where Wasserman Schultz referred to Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver as a “damn liar” and an “ASS” and said the senator has “never been a member of the Democratic Party and has no understanding of what we do.”
In the emails, staffers considered ways to hurt Sanders at the polls.
The committee’s Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall floated an idea to question Sanders’ Jewish faith.
“It might may [sic] no difference, but for KY and WA can we get someone to ask his belief,” Brad Marshall, CFO of DNC, wrote in an email on May 5, 2016. “Does he believe in God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. 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.”
Amy Dacey, CEO of the DNC, subsequently responded “AMEN,” according to the emails.
Marshall apologized to Sanders.
“I told you long time ago that the DNC was not running a fair operation, that they were supporting Secretary Clinton,” Sanders told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “So what I suggested to be true six months ago turned out to be true.”
Sanders says was “not shocked” by the emails but “disappointed.”
“Our campaign was about revitalizing American democracy. I want to see that incorporated into the Democratic Party,” Sanders said. “And I don’t believe that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is the person to be able to do that.”
Ironically, Wasserman Schultz criticized her GOP counterpart for his badly run convention. “I’m in Cleveland if you need another chair to help keep your convention in order,” she tweeted.
Wasserman Schutz was elected to Congress in 2004.
Sanders has backed her challenger in the primary, Tim Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor.’
Clinton’s campaign manager is alleging Russian hackers are leaking the emails in an effort to help Trump win the election in November.
Robby Mook told CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of the Union on Sunday it comes after “changes to the Republican platform to make it more pro-Russian.”
“I don’t think it’s coincidental that these emails were released on the eve of our convention here, and I think that’s disturbing,” he said.
The DNC has previously said its files were hacked by an individual named “Guccifer 2.0” with possible ties to the Russians.
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