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Embattled DNC Asks All Staffers For Resignation Letters

 

by ALEX SEITZ-WALD
Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez speaks at a protest against President Donald Trump's new travel ban order in Lafayette Square outside the White House, Monday, March 6, 2017, in Washington.© AP Photo/Andrew Harnik Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez speaks at a protest against President Donald Trump’s new travel ban order in Lafayette Square outside the White House, Monday, March 6, 2017, in…  

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez has launched a major reshuffling of the party’s organization that has been stung by recent crisis — and the DNC has requested the resignation letters of all current staffers be submitted by next month.

Party staff routinely see major turnover with a new boss and staffers were alerted earlier to expect such a move. However, the mass resignation letters will give Perez a chance to completely remake the DNC’s headquarters from scratch. Staffing had already reached unusual lows following a round of layoffs in December.

Immediately after Perez’ election in late February, an adviser to outgoing DNC Interim Chair Donna Brazile, Leah Daughtry, asked every employee to submit a letter of resignation dated April 15, according to multiple sources familiar with the party’s internal working.

A committee advising Perez on his transition is now interviewing staff and others as part of a top-to-bottom review process to help decide not only who will stay and who will go, but how the party should be structured in the future.

Major staffing and structure changes will be announced in coming weeks, one aide said.

The DNC declined to comment for this story.

Perez is the party’s third leader in the past year, which was one of its most difficult on record.

It began with accusations of favoritism leveled by two presidential candidates, continued with the wrenching exposure of hacked emails and abrupt resignation of former chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, then concluded with the shocking defeat of its presidential nominee and a divisive race for the new chairman.

The DNC was also hit with charges that it favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary while it was supposed to remain neutral in the contest.

The experience, which followed years in which Democrats felt the Obama White House ignored the party, has left the DNC with a crisis of confidence and competence at a time Americans are turning away from political parties in general.

Now Perez, who spent most of his career in government and not politics, has to rebuild the party, take on President Donald Trump, tap into a unique moment of grassroots activism, and run and fund a partisan bureaucracy all at once.

“I wouldn’t wish that on anybody,” California Gov. Jerry Brown told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “I was the Democratic Party chairman in California — it’s a miserable job. So, Tom, too bad.”

Perez has spent his first weeks on the job in “active listening mode,” hearing from Democrats in Washington and in small group meetings across the country before making any big moves.

“What we’re trying to do is culture change,” he told NBC News between stops of a listening tour in Michigan Friday. “We’re repairing a plane at 20,000 feet. You can’t land the plane, shut it down, and close it until further notice.”

“If your goal is you have to please everyone then you end up pleasing no one,” he added.

It’s a whirlwind job that took Perez from being feted at a donor conference at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington Thursday night to playing Solitaire on his iPhone in row 31 on a Delta flight to Detroit shortly after dawn the next morning.

The DNC will embark on a national search to fill key positions, overseen by the 30-odd members Transition Advisory Committee, which could take some time to fill.

The committee, whose members were told they are not eligible for DNC jobs, is also reviewing the DNC’s contracts with vendors and consultants, a source of complaints from many Democrats.

Progressives criticized the committee’s initial makeup, leading the DNC add several more members from their ranks.

The DNC also needs to sort out roles for its five vice chairs, with whom Perez spent a Friday retreat white-boarding, and Deputy Chair Keith Ellison, Perez’ rival-cum-partner.

Earlier this month, Perez held a meeting to discuss the issue with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sanders, both of whom supported Ellison in the DNC chair race, along with Ellison, Sanders aides Jeff Weaver and Larry Cohen, and others.

Schumer, pointing to Ellison and Sanders, told Perez, “If he’s happy, and if he’s happy, then I’m happy,” according to two sources.

Perez has included Ellison in many of the DNC’s public event so far, but the party’s charter makes no provision for a deputy chair, so Ellison does not actually have vote on the DNC. That could be fixed by naming the Minnesota congressman to one of the 75 slots the chairman gets to appoint to the national committee.

Ellison’s political director has also been helping to oversee staffing decisions in some key departments in the DNC, according to several sources.                                                                        (NBC News)

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Trump Calls Storm Over Hacking A ‘Witch Hunt’ |The Republican News

 

By MICHAEL D. SHEAR
President-elect Donald J. Trump and his wife, Melania, on New Years Eve at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.© Hilary Swift for The New York Times President-elect Donald J. Trump and his wife, Melania, on New Years Eve at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.  

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald J. Trump said in an interview Friday morning that the storm surrounding Russian hacking during the presidential campaign is a political witch hunt being carried out by his adversaries, who he said were embarrassed by their loss to him in the election last year.

Mr. Trump spoke to The New York Times by telephone three hours before he was set to be briefed by the nation’s top intelligence and law enforcement officials about Russian hacking of American political institutions. In the conversation, he repeatedly criticized the intense focus on the alleged cyber intrusions by Russia.

Read more: Russian Hack Almost Brought The U.S. Military To Its Knees |The Republican News

“China, relatively recently, hacked 20 million government names,” he said, referring to the breach of computers at the Office of Personnel Management in late 2014 and early 2015. “How come nobody even talks about that? This is a political witch hunt.”

He noted that there have been prior successful hacks of the White House and Congress, suggesting that it was unfair because those attacks on American institutions have not received the attention that the Russian cyber-intrusions have. But none of the information from those intrusions was made public as it was in the case of the hack of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

“With all that being said, I don’t want countries to be hacking our country,” Mr. Trump said. “They’ve hacked the White House. They’ve hacked Congress. We’re like the hacking capital of the world.”

Mr. Trump, who has consistently expressed doubts about the evidence of Russian hacking during the election, did so again on Friday. Asked why he thought there was so much attention being given to the Russian cyber attacks, the president-elect said the motivation is political.

Read more: U.S. Intercepts Capture Senior Russian Officials Celebrating Trump Win |The Republican News

“They got beaten very badly in the election. I won more counties in the election than Ronald Reagan,” Mr. Trump said during an eight-minute phone conversation. “They are very embarrassed about it. To some extent, it’s a witch hunt. They just focus on this.”

The president-elect also noted reports this week that the Democratic National Committee had refused to give the Federal Bureau of Investigations access to their computer servers after they were hacked.

“The D.N.C. wouldn’t let them see the servers,” Mr. Trump said. “How can you be sure about hacking when you can’t even get to the servers?” The D.N.C. has previously said the law enforcement agency had not asked to examine the computers.

A senior law enforcement official said the F.B.I. had repeatedly stressed to the D.N.C. the necessity of obtaining direct access to servers and data. The F.B.I was rebuffed, and had to rely upon a third party — a computer security firm brought in by the D.N.C. — for information.

He also said that the hack of emails from the D.N.C. and top campaign officials for Mrs. Clinton had revealed that Mrs. Clinton received advance notice of debate questions and “many many other things that were horrible. How come nobody complains about that?” Mr. Trump was referring to a tip that a CNN commentator and Clinton supporter, Donna Brazile, gave to Mr. Podesta ahead of a Democratic Party presidential debate in Flint, Mich.

Mr. Trump said he is looking forward to his meeting Friday afternoon about the hacking by James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence; F.B.I. Director James B. Comey and other intelligence officials. He said that Mr. Clapper “wrote me a beautiful letter a few weeks ago wishing me the best.”

Read more: Russian Hackers Penetrated U.S Electricity Grid Through A Utility In Vermont |The Republican News

But he said that “a lot of mistakes were made” by the intelligence community in the past, noting in particular the attacks on the World Trade Center and saying that “weapons of mass destruction was one of the great mistakes of all time.”

The president-elect said that he is eager to work with the intelligence community as president and he praised the people he has selected to lead the intelligence agencies, in particular Representative Mike Pompeo, Republican of Kansas, who is his nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.

He said that Mr. Pompeo was “first in his class” at West Point.

“We have great people going into those slots,” Mr. Trump said in the interview. “I expect to have a very, very good relationship with them.”

The Washington Post

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