By Kevin Daley
Marc Elias, the Perkins Coie lawyer who retained Fusion GPS to compile the notorious Steele dossier, may also have helped Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign assume operational control over the Democratic National Committee (DNC) well in advance of the 2016 primaries, according to a stunning new excerpt from Donna Brazile’s forthcoming book.
Brazile, a veteran Democratic strategist, led the DNC on an interim basis after Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz abruptly resigned in July 2016 in connection with a mass release of internal emails through WikiLeaks, an entity U.S. intelligence officials have invariably described as “a hostile intelligence agency.” The emails indicated that Wasserman Schultz and DNC staff colluded with the Clinton campaign at the expense of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s bid for the party’s presidential nomination.
An excerpt of Brazile’s new book, which appeared Thursday in Politico Magazine, reveals that the extent of collusion between the Clinton campaign and the DNC is far more substantial than previously understood. Brazile learned that the debt-stricken DNC signed a Joint Fund-Raising Agreement (JFRA) with Clinton’s political operation in August 2015, almost five months before the first ballots were cast in the Democratic primaries.
By the terms of the agreement, the Clinton campaign agreed to raise money for the DNC. In exchange, her campaign would assume significant control over Committee strategy, finances, and personnel decisions. She further says the Committee was essentially a clearinghouse for donations to the Clinton campaign during the 2016 general election — Politico reported in May 2016 that Clinton used state Democratic committees as a major fundraising vehicle, on the promise that her campaign would share these donations with state parties. The promised shares were seldom delivered by the campaign.
Brazile notes that a copy of the agreement was provided to Elias, a Clinton-aligned lawyer who regularly litigates for Democratic political causes. His firm has a robust political law practice and has represented Democratic political interests for over a decade. Perkins Coie partner Robert Bauer served as White House Counsel during former President Barack Obama’s first term.
Elias did not answer The Daily Caller News Foundation’s multiple requests for comment.
The extent of his involvement in preparing the JFRA is unclear, though as general counsel for the Clinton campaign it is possible his role was pivotal indeed. It also unclear what role Elias had, if any, in agenda-setting at the DNC prior to Brazile’s election as interim chair, though his firm biography indicates that he also represents the Committee.
Brazile’s revelations also raise questions about the extent to which Clinton aides were involved in or aware of key details surrounding the compilation of the Steele dossier. Provided the former chairwoman’s description of the JFRA is accurate, the DNC and Clinton’s Brooklyn-based political operation were essentially symbiotic entities for most of the election. One wonders, therefore, if sensational opposition research could be assembled and reviewed by one organization without the other’s knowledge, given both the JFRA and the extensive services Elias provided to the DNC and the Clinton campaign.
The JFRA arrangement led Brazile to conclude that the structure and direction of the primaries were intentionally skewed in Clinton’s favor.
“If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead,” she wrote. “This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.”
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