Debate commission: No questions were given ahead of time

Chris Wallace was the only person who knew the questions that would be asked at the debate in Las Vegas Wednesday, the commission that oversees the debates made clear Thursday.

“We can confirm that NO questions were given to the commission, the campaigns, or the candidates. Mr. Wallace was the only person who knew the questions in advance,” Peter Eyre, a senior adviser to the Commission on Presidential Debates, said in an emailed statement to USA TODAY.

Eyre’s statement came shortly after Donald Trump tweeted an accusation against Hillary Clinton Thursday morning that she'd been given questions ahead of the debate.

It's not clear, however, which debate Trump was referring to. In a recent WikiLeaks release of hacked emails, one message suggested Clinton’s team received a question in advance that was later asked in a town hall during the primaries.

The email was one of a trove of emails released by WikiLeaks that were hacked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's account. The campaign has not confirmed or denied the authenticity of the emails.

On March 12, then-vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee Donna Brazile emailed some of Clinton’s top aides with the subject line “From time to time I get the questions in advance.” At the time, Brazile was also a CNN contributor.

“Here's one that worries me about HRC.

DEATH PENALTY 19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?”

A very similar question ended up in the next day’s town hall:

“Since 1973, 156 who were convicted have been exonerated from the death row.  This gentleman here is one of them. This is Ricky Jackson, wrongfully convicted of murder in 1975, he spent 39 years in prison.  He is undecided.  Ricky, what is your question?”

On Wednesday night, Brazile was asked by Fox News’ Megyn Kelly where she got the question.

“I did not receive any questions from CNN. Let’s just be very clear,” Brazile said. "As a Christian woman, I understand persecution but I will not sit here and be persecuted because your information is totally false,” she continued.

When Kelly pointed out that she had gotten the information from Podesta’s emails, Brazile responded: “Well, Podesta’s emails were stolen. You’re so interested in talking about stolen material. You’re like a thief that wants to bring into the night the things that you found that was in the gutter.”

Trump posted the interview on his Facebook page and tweeted it out.

Brazile responded by bringing up the fight Trump had gotten in with Kelly earlier in the election cycle.

During a rally in Delaware, Ohio Thursday Trump brought up the Wikileaks email.

"Hillary Clinton as given the exact question to a previous debate by Donna Brazile who is now under tremendous pressure to resign from the DNC — as she should be, she should resign. How can a woman do that? That is cheating at the highest level," Trump said. He asked why Clinton hadn't announced she was given the question ahead of time.

Clinton has stayed mostly out of it — except to use Trump's accusation Thursday to fundraise.

 


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