In a massive shake up just ahead of Monday’s convention in Philadelphia, Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced today that she will be stepping down from her role as the head of the Democratic National Committee after the end of the event.
The move comes as calls for her to resign have increased in the wake of a massive release of DNC staff member emails by Wikileaks. In amongst the 20,000 messages exposed on Friday were exchanges that seemed to illustrate a strong bias against presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Over the weekend, the Vermont Senator responded to the messages — including one that suggested highlighting his religion in order to negatively impact his campaign — with calls for Wasserman Schultz to resign.
Sanders, not surprisingly, reacted positively to the news. “Debbie Wasserman Schultz has made the right decision for the future of the Democratic Party,” he wrote in statement issued tonight. “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.”
Hillary Clinton had decidedly more positive words for her “longtime friend,” writing in a statement, “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. There’s simply no one better at taking the fight to the Republicans than Debbie.” The presumptive nominee added that Wasserman Schultz will serve as the “honorary chair” of the Secretary’s 50 state program.
In spite of the timing, Wasserman Schultz insists that she will still play a role in this week’s convention. She wrote in a 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.”
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