WASHINGTON – Former DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile appeared incoherent and agitated when WND approached her at a Tuesday book signing to ask her questions about murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich.
Brazile says in her new book, which is dedicated to Rich, that she was deeply concerned with Rich’s mysterious murder and had discussed it in a phone call with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton after Clinton’s election loss.
She wrote that she asked Clinton to contribute to a reward fund to help find the slain DNC staffer’s murderer, but Clinton ended the phone call.
The following is an excerpt from Brazile’s book “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House”:
I knew the campaign had over $3 million set aside in a legal fund. Could she help me get this lawsuit started? And don’t forget the murder of Seth Rich, I told her. Did she want to contribute to Seth’s reward fund? We still hadn’t found the person responsible for the tragic murder of this bright young DNC staffer.
You’re right, she said. We’re going to get to that. But she really had to go. She had made the call and checked it off her list, and I accepted after we said our good-byes that I might never hear from her again.
WND attended Brazile’s Dec. 12 book signing at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and asked her why she believes Clinton seemed unconcerned about Rich’s murder and unwilling to allocate campaign money as a reward to find Rich’s killers.
But Brazile contradicted statements in her book, flat-out denying she even made them.
“You say in your book that you urged Hillary Clinton to use campaign funds as reward to find Rich’s murderer(s). And Clinton briefly responded by saying she really had to go,” WND stated, before Brazile interjected.
“I – I never read – I never wrote that. No,” she said.
“We discussed – on Dec. 1 we offered – Jim Roosevelt [co-chair of the DNC rules and bylaws committee] proposed that the DNC raise money to help with the reward fund, and we urged members to provide resources. But at no time did I tell Hillary – in the book, I said, ‘Don’t forget Seth Rich.’ That’s what I said in the book,” she claimed.
WND then pressed Brazile on why the DNC has offered no reward money to help find Rich’s killers.
As WND reported, WikiLeaks is offering $20,000 for information leading to the arrest of Rich’s killer. The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department is offering $25,000; One America News Network, $100,000; GOP lobbyist Jack Burkman, $105,000; and businessman and investor Martin Shkreli, $100,000.
The DNC, however, has yet to offer a reward for information leading to the arrest of the murderer of its own young staffer. Instead, the DNC honored its murdered employee by dedicating a bike rack outside its headquarters to Rich’s memory.
Brazile argued that the DNC and presidential candidates aren’t supposed to use funds for that purpose.
“The money comes from donors. This is money that comes from donors for purposes of electing Democrats. Money is not used for that purpose,” Brazile insisted. “We encourage individuals – I’ve given as an individual – the party cannot give. We – it’s just – that’s not what political parties do. But that doesn’t mean that uh – [Clinton] has called his parents – um, campaign funds can’t go to find his murderers, either.”
She added, “Ma’am, that is not the function of the DNC.”
The former DNC chairwoman and CNN contributor then became visibly angry and accused WND of trying to “smear” Rich and his family for mere “sensationalism.”
“Once again, I would like to go on the record as saying that the attempt to smear Seth Rich has caused enormous harm to his family,” she charged. “Joel and Mary (Rich’s parents) deserve better than that kind of salacious, sensational type of journalism.
“Seth was a patriot. I got a chance to work with him. I wish you would have known him, because, had you known him, you would not be bringing up some of what I call blatant attempts to smear his name.”
When WND finished recording her remarks, Brazile scolded WND a second time for asking her about allegations that Rich leaked the DNC emails.
“Let me say one thing: Journalists trying to smear Rich with conspiracy theories are devastating the Rich family,” Brazile retorted. “Rich was a patriot, and he doesn’t deserve to be smeared. I am going to call Joel [Rich] and the Rich family tonight and make sure they are OK.”
Dan Backer, the founding attorney of Political.Law, a campaign-finance and political law firm in Alexandria, Virginia, told WND that Federal Election Commission regulations would permit the DNC to allocate reward money to finding Rich’s killers.
“I am not aware that it’s expressly prohibited to use money for internal investigative purposes. The campaign contributions can’t be used for personal inurement – there is a detailed series of prohibitions on personal enrichment and personal inurement that they cannot spend this money on,” Backer told WND. “Whether or not they are choosing not to, or if it’s their preference not to, there is not a specific prohibition in this case. It would certainly be a novel use.”
The DNC and Clinton’s campaign could have also offered reward money through a charitable or government entity, explained Backer, who served as counsel to more than 100 campaigns, candidates, political action committees and political organizations.
“They could certainly have given money to a 501(c)(3) or a police reward fund if they wanted to; I am sure it could be done,” Backer said. “If not directly, though possibly directly, and certainly by supporting a charitable or government entity. The police have a mechanism in most places where you can give them money for a reward, and they will manage that process. Arguably, that’s not what they typically use the money for, but they certainly didn’t mind spending money on the Trump dossier.”
A campaign-finance attorney, who asked his name be withheld for political reasons, told WND that the Clinton campaign and the DNC could have “absolutely” offered reward money.
“With respect to the national party, they could absolutely use their money for that purpose – I can’t think of any restriction that would apply there – in the same way that they can pay for any service they need to run the party,” the attorney said.
“The campaigns have a separate rule that applies that prohibits personal use. But there is a way to structure anything like that that would work. It’s not like paying for a country club membership or paying for a haircut, where there are restrictions,” he continued. “And they could always donate to a charitable foundation to fund a reward. There are ways that they could have made it happen if they wanted to. I would think that their lawyers could very easily make it happen.”
Rich was working on voter-registration systems for the DNC in the summer of 2016. According to online hacker Kim Dotcom, Rich was also developing other technologies to expose corruption and the influence of corporate money in politics. Kim Dotcom also claimed Rich was behind the DNC’s leaked emails to WikiLeaks.
In the early hours of July 10, 2016, Rich was gunned down by unknown attackers just blocks from his home. An official investigation has reportedly produced no leads in the effort to find Rich’s killer or killers, nor any possible motive for the homicide.
In her book, Brazile suggest Rich might have been killed for being white in the wrong neighborhood, though he lived in a quiet part of town and many of his neighbors were white.
“Only to [her friend] Elaine could I say that I felt some responsibility for Seth Rich’s death. I didn’t bring him into the DNC, but I helped keep him there working on voting rights,” Brazile wrote. “With all I knew now about the Russians’ hacking, I could not help but wonder if they had played some part in his unsolved murder. Besides that, racial tensions were high that summer and I worried that he was murdered for being white on the wrong side of town.”
She also wrote that a friend in the intelligence community warned her to get protection after Rich’s murder, so she installed security cameras and alarms in her home. Brazile explained that Rich’s murder terrified her, forcing her to shut the blinds in her office so “snipers” couldn’t spot her.
Brazile offered no reasons for why Russia might have targeted Rich, nor did she explain why she feared for her life if she believed Rich was killed for being white in the wrong neighborhood.
During the question-and-answer session of her book signing, WND asked Brazile to clarify her conflicting statements about Rich’s murder.
WND asked: “Why would Moscow have targeted the DNC staffer? Why do you think Russians would come for you next? If Seth Rich was killed for being white, why would you feel forced to have shut your blinds in your office so that snipers couldn’t see you? What are your thoughts on allegations that Seth Rich was killed for leaking DNC emails?”
Brazile became flustered by the inquiry. At some points, she appeared lost for words and made bizarre and rambling statements:
There’s no evidence whatsoever that Seth Rich computer, or any of his personal electronic gadgets was penetrated or infiltrated by any of those malware spyware. We had every computer, every cell phone, everything at the DNC reviewed on multiple occasions because of the nature of the attack.
In the entirety of the book, I mention, I dedicate the book to Seth Rich because Seth Rich belonged to, ah well, let me just say this. Seth Rich was a member of the voting rights department. I was the vice chair for civic engagement and voter participation. And when I wrote in the first instance about Seth Rich, when I heard about his death, I talked about July 10th, when I got the news that Seth was murdered. Some of you might remember during that period of time, it was following the shooting at Baton Rouge. And the shooting, the incident in Dallas. And when I first received this information that Seth was killed, the first thought in my head was, ‘Oh my god, Seth was in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time.’
We live in Washington, D.C., and it bothered me. It bothered me that Seth was murdered, of course, because he was, you know, he belonged to the DNC. He was my kid, and I loved him. But it also bothered me that, uh, when I heard about what happened. I just thought that this might have been a racial incident. This was a period of heightened racial tension, not just in D.C. but across the country. Black Lives Matter and the police department, all of the protests across the country. That’s number one. So the context of me saying that was the context of what was happening on July 10, 2016, and what happened to Seth.
The context of who could have murdered Seth Rich, I don’t know. But what I do know is that his murderer is still some – or the people that murdered him – they have not been brought to justice. There’s a big reward for Seth, to capture and to bring – to find information – to bring it to justice. I know that Mayor [Muriel] Bowser and others are still concerned about what happened to Seth Rich, and I hope that we can finally bring to justice what happened.
Now, I know some people don’t understand anything about cyber security and hacking and harassment. Has anybody here as a part of OPM been harassed by the Chinese? Through the stealing of personnel files through the Office of Personnel Management? And do you recall at that time you receive a notice from OPM saying that you will have your information protected? And every year, I know every month, every month, I get a protect my ID status, OK.
Well, when this happened to us at the DNC, the first thing, because I had my information hacked through that illegal cyber-attack through OPM. That experience is one where, you know, you try to go and get a car, you try to go out and take out a loan, you know what that hacking caused you and the discomfort and I hope you continue to protect your individual identity and status. But when the Russian attack happened, this was one that no one provided us with any kind of protection. And so it was the responsibility of the Democratic National Committee – heh, who was broke – to provide protection. Similar to what OPM was providing me with the Chinese hacking, I had to provide that to the DNC, to the staff, to the donors and to others who had their personal information. And this just wasn’t just a normal threat, “Hey Geoff, you’re an X, hey Donna you’re a Y.” This was, this went beyond the name-calling. This went to our physical infrastructure. This went to our personhood. And I didn’t like it one bit; that’s why I changed our entire physical landscape at the DNC.
We put cameras everywhere. We began to protect ourselves because of the intrusion. Because of the way in which it came after our lives individually and personally and institutionally. They wanted to send a message. And for whatever reason why [Russian President Vladimir] Putin decided that he wanted to destroy the – I kept saying to myself – I used to scream out at night, “The Clinton campaign is – they, they got money – just leave us alone!” But this harassment continued and continued, up until Oct. 21.
And so no, I don’t allude in my book. I don’t practice the conspiracy theories that people have used to scar Seth’s memory, to hurt his family. I have been to Omaha. I have been to his synagogue. I have cried because of him. I love that boy. He was my child. I have dedicated a bike rack. I have gone out to raise money to help his family. Seth Rich, Seth Rich was a patriot. He was a great American, and he does not deserve to be, in anyway, he does not deserve the kind of outrageous conspiracy theories. And, yes, I told that to Sean Hannity. I’ll tell it to anyone else.
Seth was a patriot. He was a good patriot. He was a good person. He worked very hard. His colleagues at the DNC miss him. His family, Joel and Mary, they miss him. They are going through yet another Hanukkah without their son tonight. And I loved him, and he was my child. And I will always say good things about him. I get emotional about Seth. I love Seth. I love all my kids at the DNC.