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Bernie Sanders’ new speechwriter attacked Democrats as unofficial employee



Sen. Bernie Sanders’ new speechwriter for his 2020 campaign has been attacking other 2020 Democratic candidates nonstop for months as an unofficial employee.

David Sirota, a journalist known for his unabashed progressive politics and vicious Twitter-takedowns, has been slamming candidates like Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Beto O’Rourke, on social media, his website, and in columns for the Guardian. All the while, he was advising Sanders’ campaign in an unofficial capacity while helping him write early campaign speeches, The Atlantic reported.

Sanders’ campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, confirmed to The Atlantic that Sirota was working for the campaign in an undisclosed role in a test trial of sorts to see how the journalist and senator got along.

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The Sanders campaign on Tuesday announced a slew of new hires, including Sirota as a senior communications adviser and speechwriter.

Sirota, who reportedly deleted up to 20,000 tweets on Monday prior to the big announcement, often defended his incendiary attacks on prominent Democrats by citing his position as a journalist.

He is not the first Sanders 2020 campaign hire to raise eyebrows on social media.

Belén Sisa, the campaign’s deputy national press secretary, recently sparked uproar when in a Facebook discussion she suggested American Jews have “dual loyalty” to Israel. Sisa has since apologized for these comments. Her Facebook page is no longer publicly viewable.

Read more: Bernie Sanders hits the 2020 campaign trail with rockstar status, a far cry from the start of the 2016 campaign

Meanwhile, old tweets from Sanders’ new press secretary Briahna Joy Gray on Russian election interference, a journalist whose role with the campaign was also announced Tuesday, have gained attention on social media. In one such tweet from September 2016, Gray said, “@realDonaldTrump is right. The dems pushed the “Russia did the hacking” angle b/c it was politically advantageous for them. #debatenight.”

This tweet came amid a presidential debate in which then-candidate Donald Trump suggested China or a person who “weights 400 pounds” could’ve been responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee. The US intelligence community has concluded the Kremlin, under the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was responsible.

Some reporters have interpreted Gray’s tweet as suggesting the hacks were an “inside job,” implying there was a conspiratorial element to her statements at the time.

When asked about Gray’s tweet, Shakir told INSIDER he “didn’t read it that way.” In his view, Gray was being critical of the “preponderance” of attention that was granted to Russia at the time and felt it was “distracting from other arguments that could be used to defeat Donald Trump.”

“What’s past is in the past. We don’t own a lot of the views she’s articulated in the past,” Shakir said.

“Now, going forward, we are all on one team. I have zero doubt she will be a full team player,” he added.

When asked for a comment about the general narrative surrounding some of these new hires and some of the immediate criticism, including toward Sirota, Shakir said, “I welcome people digging into Twitter profiles if that’s what they want to do with their time.”

Read more: Before he was a Democratic Socialist, Bernie Sanders pushed for nationalizing major industries in the 1970s

“We’re honored to have Briahna on this campaign,” Shakir said, adding that the campaign has tried to “put together” a team that “looks like and reflects America.”

“We feel good about the diversity of thought in this campaign,” he said, contending that Sanders is “doing his part to enlarge his tent” with his campaign hires.

As of Tuesday, 70% of Sanders’ national leadership team for his 2020 campaign is comprised of women. The Vermont senator has prioritized diversity in both his rhetoric and campaign staff in 2020 after facing criticism for having a mostly male and white staff in 2016.

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