A Democratic operative distanced himself from the Democratic National Committee on Tuesday and another operative was fired from a progressive organisation, following the release of a pair ofundercover sting videos from controversial conservative activist James O’Keefe.
The two videos, released on Monday and Tuesday, appeared to show Democratic operatives discussing how they paid people to incite violence at Republican nominee Donald Trump’s rallies, among other claims.
Democratic organisations said the activities discussed in the videos do not appear to have ever taken place and were investigating the practices of O’Keefe, who has been criticised in the past for selectively editing videos to create false accusations.
One man in the videos, Scott Foval, the national field director of Americans United for Change, a progressive non-profit organisation, was heard discussing how he helped get protesters to stir up violence at Trump’s events.
“I mean honestly, it is not hard to get some of these a——- to pop off,” he said of Trump supporters in the undercover video. “It’s a matter of showing up, to want to get into the rally, in a Planned Parenthood T-shirt. Or, ‘Trump is a Nazi,’ you know.”
“You can message to draw them out, and draw them to punch you,” Foval continued. “The whole point is that we know Trump’s people will freak the f— out, his security team will freak out, and his supporters will lose their s—.”
Foval said that if an individual were to protest at a Trump rally, he or she would likely be “attacked.”
“That’s what we want,” he said. “We have to be really careful because, because what we don’t need is for it to show up on CNN that the DNC paid for X people to [attend], that’s not going to happen.”
Foval said in the video that he’s paid “mentally ill” and “homeless” people to “do some crazy stuff before.”
“I’ve also taken them for dinner, and I’ve also made sure they had a hotel, and a shower,” he said. “And I put them in a program. Like, I’ve done that.”
Neither Foval nor Americans United for Change responded to multiple requests for comment on Tuesday, but CNN reported Foval had been fired. In a statement to Fox News, Brad Woodhouse, the organisation’s president, said the operative was no longer with the organisation.
“Americans United For Change has always operated according to the highest ethical and legal standard,” Woodhouse said. “Scott Foval is no longer associated with Americans United for Change.”
Also shown in the videos was Bob Creamer. He ran the group Democracy Partners, which contracted Foval. Creamer is also the husband of Democratic Rep. Jan Shakowsky of Illinois.
“And the Democratic Party apparatus and the people from the campaign, the Clinton campaign and my role with the campaign, is to manage all that,” Creamer said to an undercover reporter in a video. “Wherever Trump and [Mike] Pence are gonna be, we have events.”
In addition, two of Creamer’s staffers, Aaron Black and Zulema Rodriguez, were seen on video claiming credit for coordinating protests outside of a Chicago Trump rally earlier this year that turned violent. Trump had to cancel the event.
In a Tuesday statement, provided to Business Insider by O’Keefe’s group, Project Veritas, Creamer said he was stepping aside from his work with the DNC.
“I am unwilling to become a distraction to the important task of electing Hillary Clinton, and defeating Donald Trump in the upcoming election,” he wrote. He added he was “enormously proud of the work we have done over the last months to sound the alarm about the danger Donald Trump would present to American democracy.”
“Contrary to the outrageous claims of the notorious right wing blogger James O’Keefe, we have always adhered to the highest standards of transparency and legality in our work for the DNC,” Creamer continued. “Democracy Partners regards our nation’s election laws and the integrity of our democratic institutions with utmost seriousness. And we have only ever-engaged in legal and nonviolent methods to demonstrate how Donald Trump is unfit to be President.”
Creamer said that he regretted the “unprofessional and careless hypothetical conversations that were captured on hidden cameras of a temporary regional contractor [Foval] for our firm.”
“While, none of the schemes described in the conversations ever took place, these conversations do not at all reflect the values of Democracy Partners,” he said. “James O’Keefe, the discredited individual behind this well-orchestrated spying scheme directed at our firm uses methods that would make Richard Nixon and the Watergate burglars proud.”
Creamer lambasted O’Keefe for using false identifications, disguises, and “elaborate false covers” to infiltrate his and other firms.
“Those of us who are involved in political work because we believe deeply in progressive values are saddened that those on the right are using dirty tricks in order to pursue their political agenda rather than engage in an honest debate about ideas,” he said. “I will not aid Mr. O’Keefe’s despicable efforts to distract from the critical choice American voters face November 8th.”
Of note, the Chicago rally prominently featured in the film occurred months before Creamer was contracted by the DNC.
DNC interim chair Donna Brazile provided a statement to Business Insider on Tuesday evening, condemning the remarks made by Foval in the videos, while simultaneously criticising O’Keefe.
“The practices described in the video by this temporary regional sub-contractor do not in any way comport with our long standing policies on organising events, and those statements and sentiments do not represent the values that the Committee holds dear,” she said. “We do not believe, or have any evidence to suggest, that the activities articulated in the video actually occurred.”
“The discredited source of these videos, James O’Keefe, is a convicted criminal with a history of doctoring video to advance his ideological agenda,” Brazile continued. “We are in the process of conducting an internal investigation to determine whether he and his cohorts committed any illegal activities in this well-funded operation. We know this campaign will be won on the issues and solutions offered by the candidates and Hillary Clinton is the only person in this race with the experience and steadiness to bring people together and get real results.”
O’Keefe has a history of publishing similar undercover videos, but he has gotten into hot water for his practices. In 2010, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour for posing as a phone repairman to enter then-Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu’s New Orleans office. In 2013, he settled a suit for $100,000 after editing a recording with an ACORN employee who later lost his job.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas tweeted about the footage Tuesday afternoon, saying it showed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s “corruption” and “criminality … runs deep.”
In an interview with conservative radio host Mike Gallagher, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump praised O’Keefe.
“He’s done some very good work and I’ll tell you what, it was disgraceful to see that,” Trump said of the footage. “No, it’s a very unfair system. I’m telling you the election is rigged.”
During a rally in Colorado later Tuesday, Trump appeared to address the O’Keefe footage when his event was disrupted by a protester.
“So yesterday, there was a story that the DNC, Democratic National Committee, is sending protesters in here,” Trump said. “[Y]ou know it’s disgusting.”
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