Two operatives who were working with the Democratic National Committee to help elect Hillary Clinton are no longer working in that role after an undercover video appeared to show them plotting to incite violence at Donald Trump’s rallies.
The creatively edited video (which contains profane language) was the work of James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas Action, a right-wing organization that sends researchers around the country to spy on the inner workings of Democratic campaigns. The footage showed Robert Creamer, of Democracy Partners, and Scott Foval, formerly of People for the American Way and Americans United for Change, appearing to talk about plans to plant people outside of Trump rallies and instigate fights.
“It doesn’t matter what the friggin’ legal and ethics people say, we need to win this,” Foval said in one clip of the video that describes how to get Trump’s supporters to start punching the people that they plant in line at his rallies.
Violence at Trump’s rallies was widespread over the summer, as Trump was widely blamed for riling up his fans with bombastic language. At one point, he promised to pay the legal fees of supporters who roughed up protesters.
The Democratic National Committee said in a statement that it contracted Creamer in June to do counterprogramming in cities where the Trump campaign was holding events. While the committee said it opposed the incitement of violence of any kind, it was also investigating any potential illegal activity by O’Keefe.
“The practices described in the video by this temporary regional subcontractor do not in any way comport with our longstanding policies on organizing events, and those statements and sentiments do not represent the values that the committee holds dear,” Donna Brazile, interim DNC chairwoman, said in a statement. “We do not believe, or have any evidence to suggest, that the activities articulated in the video actually occurred.”
Creamer, who was portrayed by the narrator in the video as the “diabolical” mastermind of a team of Democratic consultants, said that Foval was no longer working with him and that he was stepping away from the campaign to avoid being a distraction.
“We regret the unprofessional and careless hypothetical conversations that were captured on hidden cameras of a temporary regional contractor for our firm, and he is no longer working with us,” said Creamer, who is not seen on tape endorsing the plans to create chaos. “While none of the schemes described in the conversations ever took place, these conversations do not at all reflect the values of Democracy Partners.”
Foval could not be reached for comment.
The Clinton campaign denounced the tactics discussed in the video while expressing doubts about the measures employed by O’Keefe.
“While Project Veritas has been known to offer misleading video out of context, some of the language and tactics referenced in the video are troubling even as a theory or proposal never executed,” said Zac Petkanas, a spokesman for Clinton. “We support the Democratic National Committee’s appropriate action addressing this matter and look forward to continue waging a campaign of ideas worthy of our democratic process.”
O’Keefe’s organization put campaigns on notice last year that his investigators, who he considers to be journalists, would be aggressively working to infiltrate their operations this election cycle.
While O’Keefe has been a thorn in the side of campaigns over the years, he has also had legal problems of his own.
In 2010, O’Keefe pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and was fined for posing as a repairman to gain access to the office of former Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Three years ago, O’Keefe paid $100,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a former ACORN member after he posed as a pimp during an investigation of the activist group.
In his latest video, O’Keefe said that he planned to release more damaging evidence of wrongdoing before the election.