NASHVILLE, Tennessee – In a special edition of The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast live on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC Saturday afternoon from Politicon at the Music City Convention Center, host Michael Patrick Leahy was joined by former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile to talk about election integrity, Hillary Clinton, and the current positions of the 2020 Democratic candidates running for President.
Here is the transcript of that interview:
Leahy: Here comes Donna Brazile who’s joining us. The former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Brazile: How you doing?
Leahy: I am just delighted to see you.
Brazile: It’s really great to be back in Tennessee. You know I spent two years of my life living in this great state. It was a great honor to not only serve as Al Gore’s campaign manager but to spend two years living in this wonderful state. It is just an amazing place to live. Coming back now, Nashville is huge!
Leahy: Isn’t that something.
Brazile: I mean you have filled empty places with beautiful buildings. And more importantly, I’m going to the Wild Horse Saloon tonight because I had my 40th birthday there.
Leahy: That was like last year, right? (Chuckles)
Brazile: Just a few months ago. And then John Rich had The Five from Fox News down here in Nashville. We did some charitable work. But more importantly, we recorded a song.
Leahy: I’ve got to hear that song.
Brazile: It’s called Shut up About Politics. And that song became number one on the country charts for several weeks. The Billboard charts, the iTunes charts. I love Tenneesse what can I say.
Leahy: What two years did you live here?
Brazile: 1999 to 2001.
Leahy: Oh wow. Great time. Did you live in Nashville?
Leahy: No kidding.
Brazile: My job was as campaign manager, Al Gore decided to bring the staff.
Leahy: I remember that now that you mention it.
Brazile: It was my responsibility to pull it all together and make it happen.
Leahy: And we didn’t have a Music City Convention Center then.
Brazile: You didn’t have a lot.
Leahy: It’s quite stunning, isn’t it?
Brazile: Yeah. I remember the wall memorial that night when we waited and waited with Al Gore. As I often tell people, I was Al Gore’s campaign manager that we won it and lost it both on the same day.
Leahy: Yeah, that seems to be the case these days.
Brazile: Yeah. I hope that in the next election that we have a conclusive result. I think the most important thing that we need to do is protect the integrity of our elections. We have to make sure there’s no foreign interference. No meddling.
Leahy: Are you still going with that angle? Foreign interference? You’re still buying that?
Brazile: I lived it. I lived it.
Leahy: Are you saying that you don’t believe that Donald Trump is legitimately elected?
Brazile: I believe that the President along with those who wish one day to occupy the office, I think part of their responsibility is to protect the integrity of all of our elections.
Leahy: I haven’t followed you particularly on this. You are very well respected on both sides. But I want to get to this. Have you taken a position that Donald Trump is not legitimately elected President?
Brazile: I believe the President had assistance.
Leahy: From who? From Russia? Do you believe there were false documents put up there?
Brazile: It was not bought. I lived it through it in real-time. Had I been able to get through to those on the Republican side, I attempted to. And I have my emails to prove that. I wanted their support because if the Russians took us down…
Leahy: You’re still buying that stuff?
Brazile: Baby, I’ve lived it.
Leahy: But nobody else believes it. And Mueller couldn’t prove it. It was a disaster. All this stuff is undermining democracy. Why are you supporting this Donna?
Brazile: No. But sir, I have been a federal employee.
Leahy: Right right.
Brazile: I’ve taken that oath. I also understand that when I am briefed by federal officials as I was. Understand this.
Leahy: When was this?
Brazile: I called Donald. Donald Trump is the President of the United States. And I’m not saying anything at this point…
Leahy: Are you acknowledging he’s duly elected President? Is he legitimately the President? Yes or no?
Brazile: I believe he was elected by the American people. Let me just say that.
Leahy: You don’t want a recount or anything like that.
Brazile: You never heard me say that. But if a foreign government comes to you and you’re asking that foreign government…
Leahy: Are you talking about Russia or Ukraine.
Brazile: I’m talking about Russia. I’m not talking about Ukraine.
Leahy: So when did the Russians come to Donald Trump and say they would help them? Do you have some evidence on that?
Brazile: Sir, my reading of the Mueller Report all 446 pages, that 100 Trump officials had contact with the Russians. Zero on our side. Zero on the Democratic party side. But let me take you to where I want to go. Because we can have differences of opinions and different views.
One of the things that are very difficult for anyone to put in my face and the face of those who saw it in real life was how the Russians tried to sow discord within our country. What they tried to do. Mike, let me finish my argument and you can dispute me or you can disagree with me. Just be respectful because I’m respectful.
What they did was they threw their support behind one candidate. But what they caused inside the Democratic party was confusion. They were also trying to make sure that Hillary and Bernie did not come together. That the teams or supporters of each would find ways to go after each other. We know that they purchased social media ads to through this start using fake accounts.
Leahy: But these are all assertions not connected to Donald Trump.
Brazile: My argument was that the Russians interfered and meddled to help Donald Trump. Not that Donald Trump was the one who actually said, ‘Come come come.’ But he did on July 27th ask the Russians for help in finding Mrs. Clinton’s emails.
My only other argument that I wish to add, had Donald Trump understood the magnitude of what was happening, I would have hoped that at any point in that period he would have said, ‘I don’t need help from Russian and no one else to win this election.
[Editors Note: Ms. Brazile is apparently referencing a July 27, 2016 press conference in which then-GOP presidential nominee Trump jokingly said the Russians probably knew where Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 missing emails from the secret server she maintained while Secretary of State were, as Breitbart News reported:
Here is Trump’s abridged response to questions, when asked about it this morning. Note the section in bold:
It’s just a total deflection, this whole thing with Russia … By the way, they hacked — they probably have her 33,000 e-mails. I hope they do. They probably have her 33,000 e-mails that she lost and deleted because you’d see some beauties there. So let’s see….
[I]f it is Russia, nobody even knows this, it’s probably China, or it could be somebody sitting in his bed. But it shows how weak we are, it shows how disrespected we are … So I know nothing about it. It’s one of the most farfetched I’ve ever heard.
I have nothing to do with Putin. I’ve never spoken to him. I don’t know anything about him other than he will respect me. He doesn’t respect our president. And if it is Russia — which it’s probably not, nobody knows who it is — but if it is Russia, it’s really bad for a different reason, because it shows how little respect they have for our country, when they would hack into a major party and get everything. But it would be interesting to see — I will tell you this — Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That’ll be next. Yes, sir…
The media turned that facetious comment — only a small part of a long, wide-ranging press conference — into an explicit call for Russia to commit cyber-war against the United States.]
Brazile: Because of my values and the values of those who I am championing are the values of freedom and justice and liberty.’ But he never did that. He has spent most of his time in the office doing smearing other people. Now I don’t support this so-called ‘ridiculous battle about the legitimacy of Donald Trump.’ I know the ways in which Hillary Clinton perhaps came up 78,000 votes short.
Leahy: In the three key states.
Brazile: In the three states.
Leahy: Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
Brazile: Absolutely. Because if Democrats take for granted, just like the Republicans take for granted those that support these various policies and you don’t go to those voters and you don’t talk to them.
Leahy: Like Hillary didn’t go to Wisconsin and campaign?
Brazile: My point is, if you take those voters for granted, and they don’t show up. You can’t blame that on anybody but yourself.
Leahy: Let’s go and shift to Hillary Clinton. The big question. Do you think she wants to get into the 2020 race?
Brazile: I have no idea. But I can tell you as the winner of the Democratic primary in 2016. As the person who got more votes in 2016 in the general election, she has every right to consider it. But I don’t know if she’s considering it. I’m not in touch with her and I’m not in touch with anybody who would give me information.
But I have a lot of respect for her. I have a lot of respect for her leadership. And that’s the decision she has to make. But here’s what I want to say, we as you know the Democrats started off with 26 candidates, I believe we’re down to 18, maybe 19. Tim Ryan was the most recent candidate to drop out.
Leahy: Just like last week right?
Brazile: About three days ago. (Laughs) I crack up laughing because everybody says, ‘Tim who?’
Leahy: He dropped out? He’s still in the race? That was my reaction.
Brazile: Tulsi Gabbard will not run for re-election.
Leahy: In Congress.
Brazile: That’s right. In Congress. She’s still in the race. She hasn’t qualified yet for the November 20th debate that will take place in Georgia. So yeah, we still have a lot of candidates. And I think that the candidates will ultimately come from one of the 18 or so that are still running.
Leahy: How would you handicap the current race?
Brazile: We probably have three tiers. The first tier of those that are polling now over 15% that will likely accrue delegates. The second tier are those who are struggling to catch fire even when they’ve had some good ammo. And the third tier of people who probably find something out to do but they’re not going to go anywhere. They either have money or momentum. Then you have people like the Mayor now of South Bend Indiana Pete Buttigieg.
Leahy: Do you put him in second-tier or in the first tier? Because there’s a new poll in Iowa that has him in the second or third tier, and my friend Jim Larew from Iowa, I bet you know Jim Larew from Iowa.
Brazile: Of course.
Leahy: We’re going to be broadcasting from Des Moines next Friday.
Brazile: Oh really?
Leahy: Jim’s on our show all the time. We were roommates in DC about 34 years ago.
Brazile: Well, I want to know who kept the place clean. (Chuckles)
Leahy: Nobody! That is the question. It [the house in Washington, D.C where he was a roommate with Jim Larew] was a disaster! But he says Pete Buttigieg is on the rise.
Brazile: Yeah. Right now, if you look at the latest poll in Iowa, Warren’s up 22%. Followed by Biden at 17%. And Mayor Pete 16%. And Bernie Sanders 13%
Leahy: That’s your top tier, isn’t it?
Brazile: That’s my top tier. Right now three of those candidates would accrue delegates. We have a 15% threshold across the board.
Leahy: In Iowa.
Brazile: And the congressional districts are weighted toward Democratic performance. And so yeah, we take a look at the latest polls including the ones. Take a look at California where you have a bulk of the delegates. 100% of the delegates are going to be selected… (Inaudible talk)
Leahy: That’s a very interesting point. This recent poll has Warren at 28%, Biden at 19%, Bernie at 24% and Buttigieg’s way down at 9%. So he wouldn’t get any delegates in California.
Brazile: Right. He wouldn’t get any delegates in Nevada or South Carolina or California.
Leahy: Ok. Don’t you think that Buttigieg is trying to ideologically more towards the center to contrast himself from Warren and Sanders?
Brazile: Yes. Because the center of the Democratic party is where the bulk of the Democrats are. But we do have a very lively, vociferous, energized left-wing of our party. Progressive wing. And I respect them as well.
Leahy: Donna Brazile. Thank you so much for coming aboard.
Brazile: Let’s keep talking. God bless you, sir.
Leahy: Let’s do that.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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