* Democratic U.S. congresswoman (Florida)
* Chaired the Democratic National Committee from April 2011 to July 2016
* Co-chaired Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign
* Supporter of J Street
Deborah Wasserman Schultz was born September 27, 1966 in Queens, New York, and was raised on Long Island. She received a BA degree in 1988 and an MA in 1990, both in political science, from the University of Florida. From 1989-92 Wasserman Schultz worked as an aide to U.S. Congressman Peter Deutsch, who represented Florida’s heavily Democratic 20th Congressional District and became a mentor to the young woman.
From 1992-2000, Wasserman Schultz served in the Florida State House of Representatives. During that period, she was also an adjunct instructor of political science at Broward Community College, and a public-policy curriculum specialist at Nova Southeastern University. In 2001 Wasserman Schultz was elected to the Florida State Senate, where she served until 2004. When Peter Deutsch in 2004 gave up his Congressional seat in order to make a bid (unsuccessfully) for the U.S. Senate, Wasserman Schultz ran for, and won, Deutch’s vacated seat in the House of Representatives. Since then, Wasserman Schultz has been reelected to Congress every two years.
From 2004-2010, Wasserman Schultz received political donations from numerous left-wing groups and labor unions, including AFSCME, the American Association for Justice, the American Federation of Teachers, Planned Parenthood, and EMILY’s List. To view a list of additional supporters, click here.
Beginning in 2007, Wasserman Schultz was a national co-chair for Senator Hillary Clinton‘s campaign for the Democratic Party’s 2008 presidential nomination. When Barack Obama became the presumptive Democratic nominee in mid-2008, Wasserman Schultz enthusiastically endorsed him; she later seconded his nomination at the Democratic National Convention.
In May 2009, Wasserman Schultz co-hosted a J Street event on Capitol Hill, praising that organization for its “worthy goals” and its efforts to “advance the interests of Israel.” Five months later, she addressed a closed-door VIP reception at a J Street gala event in Washington, DC.
In February 2011, after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (a longtime diplomatic partner of the U.S. and Israel) was deposed (in the Egyptian revolution) and imprisoned by Islamists affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, Wasserman Schultz sided with the Islamists. Lauding their “truly momentous grassroots call for democracy from the streets and squares of Egypt,” she stated that “the voices of the people of Egypt were finally heeded.”
In May 2011, when President Obama called for Israel’s pre-1967 borders—adjusted by certain land exchanges—to serve as the geographical basis of an independent Palestinian state, Wasserman Schultz said the president had merely “reiterated long-standing American foreign policy” while “demonstrat[ing] his stalwart dedication to the safety and security of our friend and ally, Israel.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, by contrast, said that Obama’s proposal, if adopted, would leave the Jewish state “indefensible,” placing its very “existence” in peril. Five months later, Wasserman Schultz told an audience of mostly Jewish senior citizens in Coconut Creek, Florida that certain parts of Israel are simply “not important.”
In a June 5, 2011 interview with CNN, Wasserman Schultz was asked about Republican calls for measures requiring photo identification at polling places, to cut down on voter fraud. Portraying the proposal as “very similar to a poll tax” designed to “thro[w] a barrier in the way of someone who’s trying to exercise their right to vote,” Wasserman Schultz accused Republicans of wanting “to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally—and very transparently—block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates.” When reporters subsequently asked Wasserman Schultz to elaborate on the “Jim Crow” reference, she angrily denied ever having said it, despite video evidence of the comment.
During a May 29, 2011 appearance on Face the Nation, Wasserman Schultz said: “The Republicans have a plan to end Medicare as we know it. What they would do is they would take the people who are younger than 55 years old today and tell them, ‘You know what? You’re on your own. Go and find private health insurance in the health-care insurance market. We’re going to throw you to the wolves and allow insurance companies to deny you coverage and drop you for pre-existing conditions.’” Four non-partisan fact-checkers judged Wasserman Schultz’s claim to be false.
In March 2012, Wasserman Schultz canceled a keynote speech she was scheduled to deliver at an April 21 fundraising banquet for a Florida-based organization known as EMERGE USA. The cancellation came shortly after a number of media sources had reported on that organization’s radical Islamist ties. Wasserman Schultz’s spokesman subsequently claimed that the congresswoman had never actually agreed to appear at the event. EMERGE USA’s vice chairman, however, said that Wasserman Schultz had indeed “agreed to speak at the banquet,” only to change her mind following the negative publicity.
A former board member of two Planned Parenthood chapters, Wasserman Schultz has frequently criticized Republicans for seeking to end taxpayer funding for that organization, and for opposing the notion that all employers, including religious institutions, should be required to provide their workers with health insurance plans that cover contraception and abortion services. At various times in 2012, Wasserman Schultz accused the Republican Party of being “callous and insensitive … towards women’s priorities”; promoting “extreme policies” that would “tur[n] back the clock for women”; and waging a veritable “war on women.”
In August 2012, Wasserman Schultz described Republican criticisms of President Obama’s welfare policy as part of a “shockingly transparent” appeal to white racism—“a dog whistle for voters who consider race when casting their ballot.”
In September 2012, Wasserman Schultz characterized the Republican Party as a “homogeneous” entity that “treat[s] disparate groups in a superficial way, [and] what that means is there’s not a lot done for Hispanic Americans, for African Americans, for LGBT Americans, for poor Americans.”
On September 4, 2012, Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner reported that Wasserman Schultz, at a recent training session “aimed at teaching Jewish Democrats how to convince their fellow Jews to vote for Obama,” had said: “We know, and I’ve heard no less than Ambassador Michael Oren [Israeli Ambassador to the United States] say this, that what the Republicans are doing is dangerous for Israel.” When a Fox News reporter later questioned her about the quote, Wasserman Schultz, accusing “a conservative newspaper” of having “deliberately misquote[d]” her, replied: “I didn’t say he [Oren] said that.” But Philip Klein subsequently released an audio recording which proved that the congresswoman had in fact said exactly what Klein had quoted her as saying. Ambassador Oren, for his part, said: “I categorically deny that I ever characterized Republican policies as harmful to Israel.”
Also in September 2012, the Democratic Party came under fire for having eliminated, from its official platform, any reference to “God” as well as any statement identifying Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. To defuse the controversy, Democrats, during their National Convention, amended the platform to restore both of the omitted references. Wasserman Schultz thereafter claimed that a “technical oversight” had led to the omissions, and that the subsequent amendments reflected President Obama’s personal views as well as those of the Party.
In a May 28, 2014 interview with the Miami-based, comedy-radio duo Paul and Young Ron, Wasserman Schultz made some noteworthy remarks regarding the case of U.S. Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi, an Afghanistan War hero who had been incarcerated in a Mexican prison for the past 58 days and counting. While driving to meet friends in a border town on March 31, Tahmooressi had accidentally missed an exit and ended up in Mexico, where authorities arrested and jailed him. At the time, the American had with him all of his belongings, including three firearms, which triggered the response from Mexican authorities.
“The Mexican government has not done anything wrong here, so let’s be clear,” Wasserman Schultz told her radio interviewers on May 28. She then began to speak about how Mexico has laws, which Tahmooressi “appears” to have violated. When asked if Mexican authorities were treating Tahmooressi well, Wasserman Schultz replied: “As far as I know, yes they are.”
The following day—May 29, 2014—Tahmooressi was interviewed via telephone on Fox News’ On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. There, he spoke of the nightmare he had gone through in Mexico. He said that his fellow inmates had threatened to rape and kill him; that he had been chained to a bed on three separate occasions as a form of “punishment”; that he had been punched in the stomach “to the point that I couldn’t breathe”; and that his jaw had been knocked out of place as a result of a multitude of blows from prison guards.
In early August 2014 — in the midst of a sudden, massive influx across America’s southern border by more than 50,000 unaccompanied, illegal-immigrant minors hailing from Central America — Wasserman Schultz condemned her Republican colleagues in Congress over their opposition to granting amnesty to those minors. Citing “their callous indifference to the plight of children streaming across the border, fleeing horrific circumstances in their own country,” Wasserman Schultz charged that “Republicans are simply strangled by extremism.” “There is no more establishment, or middle or moderate wing” of the Republican Party, Wasserman Schultz continued. “… These people are out of control. It’s stunning.”
In a July 2015 appearance on Hardball with Chris Matthews, Matthews asked Wasserman Schultz, “What is the difference between a Democrat and a socialist?” In response, the congresswoman laughed. Matthews pressed on: “I used to think there was a big difference, but what do you think it is?” Again, Wasserman Schultz was unable to answer and attempted to change the subject: “The relevant debate that we’ll be having over the course of this campaign, is what’s the difference between a Democrat and a Republican.”
When Meet The Press host Chuck Todd again asked Wasserman Schultz, on August 2, to answer Matthews’s original question, she replied:
“You know, Chuck, it’s always fun to be interviewed by Chris Matthews, and I know that he enjoys that banter. The important distinction that I think we will be discussing, I’m confident we’ll be discussing in this campaign, is the difference between Democrats and Republicans. The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats want to make sure that people have an opportunity to climb the ladders of success and reach the middle class, have a good education, have a secure retirement. Look at the Republican field, what they stand for is the extremism that you’ve seen on full display over the last few weeks, which is why Donald Trump is their frontrunner. Donald Trump is essentially a reflection of where the Republican party is today. Limiting a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions, shifting to a more privately focused education system, ending Medicare as we know it … that’s the important and relevant contrast …”
As the Democratic National Committee’s presidential nominating convention got underway on July 24, 2016, Wasserman Schultz abruptly announced that she was resigning her post as DNC chair, in light of a trove of DNC emails that had recently been made public by WikiLeaks — emails proving that Wasserman Schultz and other party officials had conspired to sabotage the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, who was battling Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. “I know that electing Hillary Clinton as our next president is critical for America’s future,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. “I look forward to serving as a surrogate for her campaign in Florida and across the country to ensure her victory. Going forward, the best way for me to accomplish those goals is to step down as party chair at the end of this convention.”
DNC vice chairwoman Donna Brazile was named as an interim replacement for Wasserman Schultz. Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign hired Wasserman Schultz to serve as honorary chair of its 50-state program to elect Democrats to key political offices nationwide.
In 2016, Wasserman Schultz’s longtime noteworthy connections to a suspected Pakistani spy whom she employed made national headlines. The controversy centered around an Information Technology (IT) worker named Imran Awan, who was born in Pakistan in 1980 and first came to the United States in 1997, when he and his family members were awarded green cards through a federal lottery system. Awan subsequently earned an IT degree at Johns Hopkins University and became a U.S. citizen. In 2004, he landed his first job as an IT technician, working part time for then-Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Florida). Before long, Awan became one of Capitol Hill’s leading IT specialists, doing work for more than a dozen House Democrats, most notably Debbie Wasserman Schultz, for whom he began working in 2005. Though the median annual salary for Capitol Hill staffers at that time was approximately $43,000, Awan was paid approximately four times that amount.
Imran Awan then used his Washington connections to get IT jobs on Capitol Hill for five people who were very close to him: his younger brother, Abid Awan (who began working there in 2005); Imran Awan’s wife, Hina Alvi (2007); Abid Awan’s’s wife, Natalia Sova (2011); Imran Awan’s best friend, Rao Abbas (2012); and Imran Awan’s youngest brother, 20-year-old Jamal Awan (2014).
By 2016, Imran Awan and his five recruits had done work for at least three-dozen House Democrats. Notably, they ranked among the highest-paid staffers on Capitol Hill, each earning between $157,000 and $168,000 per year. It is estimated that between July 2009 and March 2017, these six IT staffers were paid a combined $4 million in taxpayer funds. According to National Review Online, “a few of these arrangements appear to have been sinecures,” given that “some Awans were rarely seen around the office.” They generally worked as “shared employees,” meaning that they were commissioned to perform work for dozens of House Democrats at various points in time.
This type of working arrangement had come under scrutiny in 2008 by then-House Inspector General James J. Cornell, who warned that “inadequate oversight” tended to be a problem wherever staffers were utilized as shared employees. “In most instances, they have all the freedom of a vendor and all the benefits of an employee without the accountability one would expect with an employee,” Cornell testified at the time. “[They] present an additional risk in that they often have access to multiple office’s data outside of both the oversight of congressional office staff and the visibility of House security personnel.” In addition, Cornell stated that a “growing number of shared employees are working in illegal teaming arrangements where,” in violation of House rules, “they pass the work off to other shared employees not on the payroll of the congressional office they are serving.”
Reflecting on the matter of Imran Awan and his five IT recruits, former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy noted how strange it was that the six had been paid such high salaries, and that they had been given security clearance by the government, even though they had been implicated in a number of ethical transgressions. Wrote McCarthy:
“Why were they paid so much for doing so little? Intriguing as it is, that’s a side issue. A more pressing question is: Why were they given access to highly sensitive government information? Ordinarily, that requires a security clearance, awarded only after a background check that peruses ties to foreign countries, associations with unsavory characters, and vulnerability to blackmail. These characters could not possibly have qualified…. [T]he family, which controlled several properties, was involved in various suspicious mortgage transfers. Abid Awan, while working ‘full-time’ in Congress, ran a curious auto-retail business called ‘Cars International A’ [CIA], through which he was accused of stealing money and merchandise. In 2012, he discharged debts in bankruptcy (while scheming to keep his real-estate holdings). Congressional Democrats hired Abid despite his drunk-driving conviction a month before he started at the House, and they retained him despite his public-drunkenness arrest a month after. Beyond that, he and Imran both committed sundry vehicular offenses. In civil lawsuits, they are accused of life-insurance fraud.”
While they worked for the federal government, the Awan brothers frequently traveled back to their native Pakistan, spending “significant portions of the year” there, according to The Daily Caller. Moreover, other IT staffers on the Hill noted that the Awans were regularly absent from weekly meetings and from inter-office correspondences.
In March 2016, auditors from the House’s Chief Administrative Office noticed invoices for numerous pieces of computer equipment whose purchase prices had been falsely recorded as $499.99 each; this was significant because it was mandatory that all items valued at $500 or more be inventoried and carefully tracked. Some of these items eventually ended up in the homes of the Awan brothers.
In October 2016 the Inspector General’s Office tracked the computer login activities of Imran Awan and his five recruits, and found what investigators described as “massive” amounts of data that was being accessed, some of which was being stored outside of the House of Representatives’ computer network. Imran Awan’s wife, Hina Alvi, was the only person in the group who had been given security clearance to access the Democratic Caucus’s computer server. But over a period of seven months, she had logged in to that server fewer than 300 times, while Imran Awan and his brothers had logged in more than 5,700 times, combined.
While Debbie Wasserman Schultz was chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Imran Awan was on her payroll, the DNC’s computer network was breached by hackers who mined and released a plethora of data – including evidence that the DNC had done everything in its power to rig the presidential primary race in favor of Hillary Clinton, and against Bernie Sanders. Wasserman Schultz refused to help the FBI in its subsequent investigation of that security breach, and she refused to allow forensic experts to gain access to the server so they could examine it. At the end of July 2016, the congresswoman stepped down from her post as DNC chair.
In December 2016, Imran Awan’s wife, Hina Alvi, began arranging a fraudulent $165,000 loan from the Congressional Federal Credit Union (CFCU), and on January 18, 2017, she tried to complete a wire transfer of $283,000 (which included the $165,000) to Pakistan. An affadavit filed in a U.S. District Court indicates that: (a) when the CFCU called Alvi to inquire about the transfer, a “male” (Imran Awan) answered the phone and pretended to be Alvi; (b) when CFCU asked what the reason for the wire transfer was, the male voice answered: “funeral arrangements”; (c) when the male was told that this was not an acceptable reason for making such a transfer, he stated that he would search online for an acceptable response; and (d) after a long pause, the male voice returned and told the CFCU representative that the reason for the wire transfer was: “buying property.” With that, the credit union wired the money to Pakistan.
In early February 2017, House security services informed Members of Congress that Imran Awan and his wife were the subjects of a criminal investigation in which they were accused of having stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of computers and servers, and of having violated network security regulations. At that point, all five of Imran Awan’s IT recruits were fired from their Capitol Hill jobs, but Imran Awan himself was permitted to stay on Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s payroll. A spokesman for the congresswoman at the time explained that Awan – who was now blocked from using the House IT network by the House Sergeant-at-Arms – had been moved into an “advisory” role where he was “providing advice on technology issues.” Notably, Wasserman Schultz hired no other IT technician to cover the areas from which Awan had been barred.
Notwithstanding his lost access to the House IT network, Awan still had access to congressional members’ e-mail addresses, calendars, travel schedules, and private notes. He also had access to Wasserman Schultz’s congressional e-mails as well as those of the DNC, and was privy to the congresswoman’s iPad password. After federal authorities, during a search of a small room inside the Capitol Building, found and confiscated a laptop computer that Wasserman Schultz’s office had once issued to Awan, the congresswoman accused the Capitol Police chief of having violated House rules by taking property that belonged to a House Member. Moreover, Wasserman Schultz warned that there would be “consequences” if the computer – whose username was “RepDWS” (the congresswoman’s initials) – was not returned in a timely manner. Wasserman Schultz also used campaign funds to secure the services of lawyer Bill Pittard, who was commissioned to ensure that federal prosecutors were kept away from the laptop.
After the February 2017 announcement of a criminal probe into the activities of Imran Awan and his IT recruits, Awan quickly vacated the rental home where he had lived for some time. When a Marine vet subsequently moved into that same home, he found what he described as “wireless routers, hard drives that look like they tried to destroy, laptops, [and] a lot of brand new expensive toner.” “They left in a huge hurry,” the vet explained. “It looks like government-issued equipment. We turned that stuff over [to authorities].” In an effort to regain possession of the aforementioned equipment, Awan accused the Marine of stealing his property and threatened a lawsuit. The threat fell flat, however, because the FBI had already confiscated the equipment.
On March 5, 2017, Imran Awan’s wife, Hina Alvi, suddenly took her three children out of school (without informing Virginia education officials) and boarded a plane bound for Pakistan. An FBI affidavit revealed that Alvi also brought with her a large amount of luggage as well as $12,400 in American currency. (It is a felony to export more than $10,000 in currency from the U.S. without filing a currency transportation report, which Alvi did not file.)
Waiting for Alvi in Pakistan was the $283,000 that she and her husband had wired there three months earlier. By March 7, Alvi was no longer on the payroll at Wasserman Schultz’s office. No explanation was given as to why she had been fired two days into a trip that her employer presumably believed would be only temporary.
Following Alvi’s departure, Wasserman Schultz kept Imran Awan on her congressional payroll for another four months despite the fact that: (a) Awan was now blocked from the House computer network (essentially rendering him unable to do IT work), and (b) he was now the subject of an intensive investigation for fraud and data-security breaches.
In July 2017, Awan booked a round-trip ticket to Pakistan, with a projected return date of January 2018. Wasserman Schultz arranged to continue paying him during the six months he was expected to be away. But when Awan arrived at Dulles Airport on July 24 to board his flight, he was arrested by the FBI. When Wasserman Schultz learned of Awan’s arrest, then, and only then, did she finally terminate his employment.
Following Awan’s arrest, Wasserman Schultz defended her decision not to have fired the IT staffer sooner, saying that she “did the right thing” and “would do it again.” In early August 2017, the congresswoman elaborated: “I had grave concerns about his [Awan’s] due process rights being violated. When their investigation was reviewed with me, I was presented with no evidence of anything that they [Awan and his wife] were being investigated for. And so that, in me, gave me great concern that his due process rights were being violated. That there were racial and ethnic profiling concerns that I had.”
On April 1, 2018, the Daily Caller reported: “Every one of the 44 House Democrats who hired Pakistan-born IT aides [Imran Awan and his five recruits] who later allegedly made ‘unauthorized access’ to congressional data appears to have chosen to exempt them from background checks, according to congressional documents. All of them appear to have waived background checks on Imran Awan and his family members, even though the family of server administrators could collectively read all the emails and files of 1 in 5 House Democrats, and despite background checks being recommended for such positions, according to an inspector general’s report.”
For a list of all the House Democrats who used the IT services of Imran Awan and his five recruits, click here.
In a plea deal that was made on July 3, 2018, Awan pleaded guilty to federal bank fraud. Prosecutors said that they had “uncovered no evidence” that Awan had “violated federal law with respect to the House computer systems.” But as political analyst Lloyd Billingsley noted: “Observers of the case could find evidence that the outcome had been rigged. Since November, [a Fox News] report noted, ‘a judge [had] postponed Awan’s court hearing in U.S. District Court six times at the request of the prosecution and defense.’ As it turns out, prosecutor and defense are on the same side.” Explained Billingsley:
“Judge Tanya S. Chutkan was once a partner in the law firm of Boies, Schiller, & Flexner, which represented Huma Abedin in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server. In 2014 [President Obama] tapped Chutkan for the DC District Court. There Chutkan was a vocal opponent of President Trump’s travel ban and ordered the Trump administration to provide abortions to two false-documented illegals….
“One of the key players is California attorney general Xavier Becerra, a former congressman once on Hillary Clinton’s short list as a [2016 presidential] running mate. As head of the House Democratic Caucus, Becerra was in charge of the server that Awan accessed. When investigators requested the server, they got only false information. That likely prompted Becerra’s flight back to the sanctuary state of California. Chutkan conveniently delayed the previous hearing until after the June primary, which Becerra duly won. So judge Chutkan clearly had the mid-terms in mind.
Author Frank Miniter was likewise “flabbergasted” by the court ruling. Click here for his analysis.
On January 30, 2017, Wasserman Schultz and fellow U.S. Representative Ted Deutch (D-Florida) together held a press conference at Fort Lauderdale Airport — where where five people had been massacred in an ISIS-inspired terrorist attack just weeks before — to speak out against President Donald Trump’s recently announced executive order calling for a temporary moratorium on the issuance of visas for people seeking to travel to the United States from seven majority-Muslim nations that were known to be hotbeds of Islamic terrorism. Joining Wasserman Schultz and Deutch in the press conference was Khurrum Wahid, a South Florida attorney with a reputation for representing high profile terrorists, including operatives from al-Qaeda. Wahid was also the founder and co-chairman of the aforementioned EMERGE USA; a former legal advisor for the national office of the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); and a former director of CAIR’s Florida chapter. Wasserman Schultz and Deutch were also joined at the press conference by Ghazala Salam, who was a high-level official with EMERGE Florida and CAIR-Florida, and who helped run events for Islamic Relief, a group linked to the financing of al-Qaeda and Hamas.
Soon after special counsel Robert Mueller had issued a 448-page report which found no evidence whatsoever that President Trump had colluded with Russia to affect the 2016 presidential election, Wasserman Schultz told MSNBC on May 10, 2019, that, based on her interpretation of the Mueller report, there had indeed been collusion between Trump and Russia. Among her remarks were the following:
During a Democratic Weekly Address which she delivered on September 6, 2019, Wasserman Schultz derided President Trump for trying to “steal” some $3.6 billion in military funds and apply the money instead to the construction of a border wall, which she characterized variously as a “xenophobic vanity wall,” a “medieval fence,” and a “monument to intolerance.” Such a “boondoggle,” Wasserman Schultz added, would be an “ineffective, colossal waste of tax dollars” and would serve only to “fue[l]” the “nativist anxieties” of his political “base.”
In November 2019, Wasserman Schultz criticized Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, for having recently implemented a new rule under which immigrants receiving government assistance for a certain length of time could be designated as a “public charge” and consequently could be denied a green card by immigration officials. In Wasserman Schultz’s calculus, the new policy was evidence of the “white supremacist ideology” by which the Trump administration had been “persecuting people of color.”
In a December 13, 2019 appearance on MSNBC, Wasserman Schultz commented on the House Judiciary Committee’s passage of two articles of impeachment against President Trump for his alleged improprieties in dealing with Ukraine. She said:
“I think what this boils down to is we are here because the President of the United States has treated the Constitution like toilet paper, like nothing more than toilet paper. He has engaged in an unprecedented abuse of power. He engaged in a protracted shakedown scheme to try to coerce a foreign country into investigating his political rival to benefit his own campaign. He has engaged in unprecedented obstruction of Congress. There’s no president in history that has refused categorically to turn documents over to the United States Congress, to provide witnesses to give testimony. He has violated his oath of office, violated the Constitution and needs and must be held accountable as a result. No one is above the law…. [W]hat is particularly, particularly disturbing here is he put his own personal and political interests above our national security interests. And that is why Congress had to act.”
Shortly after President Trump had ordered the U.S. military to kill Qasem Soleimani — the longtime leader of the terrorist Quds Force division of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps — on January 3, 2020, Wasserman Schultz told CNN that the Democrats’ recent impeachment of Trump had “a lot to do” with the strike that killed Soleimani. By Wasserman Schultz’s telling, Trump “appears to shoot first, and then possibly the vital questions that lead up to action are asked later.” She later added:
“What I think is going on here, frankly, is that this action was taken more in President Trump’s self-interest rather than our national interests. We had damning developments in just the last day, where emails came out that made it very clear that they covered up the real reason behind the withholding of hundreds of millions of dollars to Ukraine. Donald Trump was just impeached a week and a half ago. And we need to get to the bottom of how and who helped him carry out this illegal cover-up to allow him to withhold aid to help him politically and personally, allowing Ukraine to interfere in the presidential election in 2020. That’s outrageous, and I think that has a lot to do with what this attack was about.”
After the February 17, 2021 death of conservative broadcasting icon Rush Limbaugh, Wasserman Schultz urged Florida mayors to defy Governor Ron DeSantis’ order that they should fly their flags at half-staff in honor of Limbaugh. In a letter to local mayors, Wasserman Schultz said:
“Rush Limbaugh spent his career normalizing and popularizing hatred and bigotry against people of color, immigrants, women, and the LGBTQ+ community. He built a brand around disgusting insults, bolstering rape culture, spewing lies about the AIDS crisis, and nonstop bullying. The targets of his attacks often received death threats from his sycophantic fan base. To the end, he stoked the environment that led to an insurrectionist attack on our Capitol, and dismissed calls to end such violence. American political discourse is in a dangerous state. Our country is the most divided it has been since the Civil War. As we work to heal the nation, we cannot elevate a person credited for fostering our divisions and emboldening the worst tendencies of human nature.”
After the multi-billionaire Elon Musk purchased the social-media platform Twitter in 2022, he permitted a small group of investigative journalists to access to a vast collection of internal and external communications that had been transmitted over the years among the company’s employees and officials. The journalists, in turn, distilled and presented those communications to the public in a series of separate installments starting on December 2, 2022. These so-called “Twitter Files” proved that Twitter – prior to being purchased by Musk – had actively cooperated with federal law-enforcement agencies to censor certain information that conflicted with the company’s leftwing political orthodoxy, and to create “secret blacklists” targeting prominent conservatives.
To investigate this improper collusion between a private-sector company and the federal government, House Republicans in January 2023 established a “House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.” Just prior to a March 9, 2023 hearing held by that Subcommittee, Matt Taibbi — one of the journalists to whom Elon Musk had granted access to the aforementioned Twitter communications — released a new installment of the Twitter Files. That installment revealed that the social-media giant had established a “Censorship-Industrial Complex” whereby Twitter leaders consulted on a regular basis with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and nongovernmental organizations like the Atlantic Council and the National Endowment for Democracy, to censor information – even if it was accurate – that might make some people reluctant to be inoculated with COVID-19 vaccination shots.
During the March 9 hearing, Wasserman Schultz impugned Taibbi’s integrity, alleging that, out of pure self-interest, he had allowed Twitter CEO Elon Musk to use him as a mouthpiece for the Twitter Files. The congresswoman’s exchange with Taibbi went as follows:
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Mr. Taibbi, I want to ask about journalistic ethics and information sources. The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics asserts that journalists should avoid political activities that can compromise integrity or credibility. Being a Republican witness today certainly casts a cloud over your objectivity. But a deeper concern that I have relates to the ethics of how journalists receive and present certain information. Journalists should avoid accepting spoon-fed, cherry-picked information if it’s likely to be slanted, incomplete or designed to reach a foregone, easily disputed, or invalid conclusion. Would you agree with that?
Matt Taibbi: I think it’s — I think it depends.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Really? You wouldn’t agree that a journalist should avoid spoon-fed, cherry-picked information if it’s likely to be slanted, incomplete or designed to reach a foregone, easily disputed, or invalid conclusion?
Matt Taibbi: Congresswoman, I’ve done probably a dozen stories involving whistleblowers. Every reported story that I’ve ever done across three decades involves sources who have motives. Every time you do a story, you’re making a balancing test between the public interest –.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Reclaiming my time. Thank you very much.
Matt Taibbi: Okay.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: I ask you this because before you became Elon Musk’s hand-picked journalists and, pardon the oxymoron, you stated this on Joe Rogan’s podcast about being spoon-fed information. And I quote: ‘I think that’s true of any kind of journalism–‘. And you’ll see it behind me here. ‘I think that’s true of any kind of journalism. Once you start getting handed things, then you’ve lost. They have you at that point and you got to get out of that habit. You just can’t cross that line.’
Do you still believe what you told Mr. Rogan? Yes or no? Yes or no?
Matt Taibbi: Yes.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Good. Now, you crossed that line with the Twitter Files. Elon Musk.
Matt Taibbi: No.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: It’s my time. Please do not interrupt me. Elon Musk spoon-fed — Elon Musk spoon-fed you his cherry-picked information, which you must have suspected promotes a slanted viewpoint, or at the very least, generates another right-wing conspiracy theory. You violated your own standard and you appear to have benefited from it. Before the release of emails, of the emails in August of last year, you had 661,000 Twitter followers. After the Twitter Files, your followers doubled. And now it’s three times what it was last August. I imagine your Substack readership, which is a subscription, increased significantly because of the work that you did for Elon Musk. Now, I’m not asking you to put a dollar figure on it, but it’s quite obvious that you’ve profited from the Twitter Files. You hit the jackpot on that Vegas slot machine to which you referred. That’s true, isn’t it?
Matt Taibbi: I’ve also reinvested–
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Some. No, no, no, no. Is it true that you have profited since you were you were this recipient of the Twitter Files? You’ve made money? Yes or no?
Matt Taibbi: I think it’s probably a wash, honestly.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: You have made money that you did not have before. Correct?
Matt Taibbi: But I’ve also spent money that I didn’t know. I just hired a group of people to—
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Patently obvious answer. Reclaiming my time. Attention is a powerful drug. Eyeballs, money, prominence, attention. All of it points to problems with accuracy and credibility. And the larger point, which is social media companies are not biased against conservatives, and if anything, they ignored their own policies by allowing Trump and other MAGA extremists to post incessant lies, endangering public safety and even our democracy. Hypocrisy is the hangover of an addiction to attention.
For an overview of Wasserman Schultz’s voting record on various key issues as a member of Congress, click here.