Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Just hours before its candidates are set to debate each other, the Democratic Party finds itself in a state of civil war, thanks to a complex battle over a data breach, a debate schedule and the party hierarchy's overall handling of the race between frontrunner Hillary Clinton and her rivals.

The Bernie Sanders campaign sued the Democratic National Committee on Friday after the DNC suspended its access to a crucial voter database. That suspension came after the revelation that a software glitch had allowed some members of the Sanders team to look at confidential voter information gathered by the Clinton campaign. The suspension was lifted by Saturday morning, though the DNC said it was still going to investigate the breach.

Advertisement

The Sanders camp apologized and fired one of the staffers who accessed the data. But it also condemned the suspension as an overreaction and accused the DNC, which is supposed to be neutral in the race, of doing everything it could to stack the party's deck in favor of Clinton. (Sanders, along with fellow candidate Martin O'Malley, are already steaming about the DNC's decision to air several of the all-important debates on weekend nights, claiming that it is part of an effort to minimize the challenge to Clinton by ensuring not as many people will be watching.)

"The leadership of the Democratic National Committee is now actively attempting to undermine our campaign," Sanders campaign manager said in a statement.

In response, Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said that the data breach was more serious than the Sanders campaign was letting on.

All of this drama is neatly timed to coincide with the third Democratic presidential debate, which is airing on ABC News at 8 PM ET on Saturday night. (ABC News is a co-owner of Fusion.) It seems pretty likely that the data breach, and the DNC's conducting of the campaign, will be a big topic.

Advertisement