Former 2016 Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said the campaign and the Democratic National Party did not work together to rig the primary in an interview Friday night with CNN's Anderson Cooper. He said the idea that the DNC could rig a contest "frankly is laughable." Mook also noted that contests that were run by the national party such as the Iowa caucus, Bernie Sanders "won overwhelmingly."
However, responding to Sanders campaign adviser Jeff Weaver's complaint that it was "pretty clear" the DNC was on the Clinton side, Mook said "politics is politics."
On interim DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile's claim that after review the DNC did in fact rig the primary in favor of Clinton he said, "this is water under the bridge."
Transcript of discussion, via CNN:
ROBBY MOOK, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, first of all, Anderson, I just want to underscore some things Briana said.
First of all, when the DNC approached both campaigns about a joint fundraising agreement, they were broke. They weren't going to make payroll. They were not going to be able to transfer down money to the state parties to keep them operational. They were in a really bad place.
Both the Sanders and the Clinton campaign signed joint fundraising agreements. So, we both thought it was a good thing to sign for. The only difference was Sanders didn't raise any money and we did. The DNC --
COOPER: Sanders was raising money -- I mean, you guys had big money donors, Sanders was getting more donations from, you know, individuals and smaller donations. No?
MOOK: Well, and that would have been great. It would have been great for the DNC to raise jointly with him. Hillary turned over her email list to the DNC after the election was over. So, it's really important for those low dollar donors to be part of the DNC process.
But the DNC came to our campaign and we said, we need help. You know, we're not prepared for the general election. We created the memo of understanding that what was there. It wasn't about the primary election. And as Brianna said, we were very frustrated with the DNC many times. The idea that we had any control over there was pretty laughable.
COOPER: Right. But --
MOOK: We simply put guardrails in about how the money that we raised needed to be focused on the general election activities that were really going to matter.
COOPER: Right. My understanding is that communications position actually had to be field even before the primary races.
MOOK: Well, that's correct. I mean, this is a perfect --
COOPER: So, that wasn't just about the general election, right?
MOOK: Well, no, it absolutely is. The purpose of the DNC while the primary's going on is to hold Republican candidates accountable. And there was nobody filling that post. It was a big problem. It was something that any Democrats should have been worried about.
That's why if you look in that memo, we explicitly said a date whereby they have to hire someone because we were distress that there was no lead voice out there speaking out against Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and everybody else.
COOPER: But was the Sanders campaign also offered the chance to enter into an agreement or they too could have a say in who the DNC was hiring?
MOOK: They were. And if you look at the memo that came out this evening, it explicitly says in that memo that we as the Clinton campaign acknowledge that other campaigns were welcome to in turn an agreement with the DNC of their own. In fact, honestly, Anderson, we would have beyond welcomed that. More resources coming into the DNC, we would have loved to have partnered with the Sanders campaign, talking about, you know, all the issues of how to organize and prepare for the general election.
We had a very good working relationship with the Sanders campaign, particularly as the primary came to a close. I worked very closely with Jeff Weaver. We've got a lot done. We got the unity commission that Sanders set up. So, we would have welcomed that.
COOPER: Right. But, clearly, Jeff Weaver and the Sanders campaign believe that things were rigged against them.
MOOK: Well, here's what I'll say about this. You know, politics is politics. People have to go there -- you know, go out there and say what they need to say. I think it is -- I think it's dangerous to say this contest was rigged for the following reason --
COOPER: Because Elizabeth Warren, by the way, is also saying that now.
MOOK: Well, and Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are important part of our party. They're an important part of our politics. We can't make the case to working people in this country that we're going to be -- that we're going to stand up for them and we're going to fight for them, if we're fighting each other. We can't do that.
Hillary Clinton won this primary with almost 4 million votes. That's a bigger league that Barack Obama had over her when she lost and conceded in 2008. The idea that the DNC could rig a contest frankly is laughable.
And here's the thing I'll say. You know, the caucus contests within the larger primary are the contests that are run by the party. You know, the primary elections are run by secretaries of state. Those contests, the caucuses that were run by the party, Bernie Sanders won overwhelmingly. So, if we look at what the party actually in this process, Bernie Sanders won those contests. I think we only won three of them and we barely won Iowa.
So, there's just no evidence to back this up. I understand that it's convenient. Some people like -- you know, they want to be angry of what's going on. But we've got to focus our anger on Donald Trump and this outrageous tax plan that the Republicans are proposing.
COOPER: So, is this just about Donna Brazile trying to peddle a book? I mean, because as Brianna mentioned, you know, through somebody who didn't work at CNN, she gained access to one town hall question and she gave that or at least attempted to or in an email give it to somebody in the Clinton campaign, which is completely unethical. She lost her job. You know, she -- I mean, I frankly view it as a huge betrayal of everybody who work at CNN, the fact that she did that.
I don't see her attempting to -- in any of those e-mails attempting to give information to the Sanders campaign. It seemed like she was more than happy to cozy up to the Clinton campaign. And now, she has a book to sell, she's now spinning this yarn.
MOOK: I feel like all this is water under the bridge. And Donna Brazile has served our party for 30 years. She's been a champion for Democrats. It was my honor and my privilege to work with her as chair of our party. I look forward to working with Donna --
COOPER: Do you think it was appropriate for her to do that about a town hall question?
MOOK: I don't honestly know the specifics of it. It sounds like CNN looked into it and took action as they saw fit.
But again, Anderson, I'm not just interested in these things in the past. This is why we got to move beyond 2016. We have a governor's election less than a week away in Virginia. We've got critical midterm elections.
And I can't say it enough -- this tax plan the Republicans are proposing is outrageous.