Around this time last year, Donald Trump said that Donna Brazile was “totally dishonest.” Now, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway says that Brazile is trying to “get the truth out there.”
Around this time last year, Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said he was “not aware of any questions getting fed in” to the campaign by Brazile in advance of Democratic primary debates. Now, Mook says he does not recall events described by Brazile in a forthcoming book, suggesting as Trump once did that Brazile is dishonest.
As Brazile, the former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, goes public with her version of what happened on the losing side of the 2016 presidential race, her allies and critics have suddenly reversed roles, adopting new views that serve their political interests.
Hacked emails posted by WikiLeaks in October 2016 revealed that on two occasions during the Democratic primary, Brazile had abused her position as a CNN analyst by tipping off the Clinton campaign to the nature of questions that would be asked at town-hall-style forums broadcast by the network. Brazile was not yet at the helm of the DNC when she made the improper disclosures.
Brazile initially disputed the authenticity of the emails published by WikiLeaks, and Mook gave her cover in an appearance on “The View” on Nov. 3, 2016, saying he hadn't even seen the emails in question and knew nothing about inappropriate question sharing.
But according to the Trump campaign, managed by Conway, the emails showed that Brazile lacked integrity. Trump routinely knocked Brazile and Clinton during the final month of the race, as he railed against a “rigged” political system.
“Now, if some of you have not noticed, Hillary is not laughing as much as the rest of us,” Trump said at the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York, an event where politicians roast one another. “That's because she knows the jokes. All of the jokes were given to her in advance of the dinner by Donna Brazile.”
On “Fox & Friends” on Monday, Conway offered a dramatically different take on Brazile.
“You’ve got Donna Brazile out there, trying to clear her name and get the truth out there, and I respect Donna for doing that,” Conway said. “Donna became the interim DNC chair about the same time I became the Trump-Pence campaign manager, so I worked alongside of her plenty. We’ve always had a respectful relationship. She’s a smart woman.”
What has changed, of course, is that Brazile claims in her book that the Clinton campaign systematically bent the DNC to its will in a way that unfairly disadvantaged Bernie Sanders. Team Trump loves that narrative because it makes Clinton's nomination appear less legitimate, and sows resentment and division within the Democratic Party.
In short, Brazile is saying things that the Trump White House wants voters to hear and believe; therefore, the Trump White House says Brazile is no longer “dishonest” but credible.
Meanwhile, it is no longer in the interest of former Clinton campaign officials to defend Brazile, and Mook has shifted positions on the veteran operative, too.
“The allegation she’s making there simply isn’t true,” Mook said of Brazile's claim that the funding arrangement between the DNC and the Clinton campaign was “unethical.”
“I’m sure Donna was under a lot of pressure from her publisher to put this book out right on this election week, when we have critical elections happening around the country,” Mook added. “I wish she’d just put her foot down and said, ‘No, I’m not going to release it around these elections because we should be focused on turning voters out right now.’ ”