Donna Brazile allegedly warned Hillary Clinton's campaign about a Democratic town hall question

Donna Brazile
(Image credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Former CNN contributor and one-time Bill Clinton adviser Donna Brazile apparently tipped off the Clinton campaign about a potentially difficult question before the CNN Democratic presidential town hall debate last March, a WikiLeaks email seems to reveal.

The email, allegedly from Brazile to Clinton's communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, has the subject line "From time to time I get the questions in advance." The body of the email said:

Here's one that worries me about HRC.DEATH PENALTY19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That's 11 percent of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty? [WikiLeaks]

Palmieri apparently answered, "Hi. Yes, it is one she gets asked about. Not everyone likes her answer but can share it." The question in the WikiLeaks email was slightly different than the one that was ultimately asked at the town hall.

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When asked by BuzzFeed about the apparent exchange, a CNN spokesperson said, "To be perfectly clear we have never, ever given a town hall question to anyone beforehand." Brazile added, "I don't read WikiLeaks. I refuse to play the WikiLeaks game […] I did not tip off anyone."

The WikiLeaks emails purportedly come from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's account; the U.S. has blamed Russia for the DNC hacks. Jeva Lange

Update 3:06 p.m.: Brazile published the following statement about the WikiLeaks email:

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Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.