BREAKING: Debbie Wasserman Schultz Resigning As Party Leader

BREAKING: Debbie Wasserman Schultz Resigning As Party Leader

(CNN) Debbie Wasserman Schultz is stepping down as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee at the end of the party’s convention, which is set to begin here Monday.

The Florida congresswoman’s resignation — under pressure from top Democrats — comes amid hackers’ release of emails that show DNC staffers favoring Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the party’s 2016 nominating contest.

Wasserman Schultz announced her resignation in a statement Sunday afternoon, saying she remains committed to seeing Clinton elected president. She talked with both President Barack Obama and Clinton before making her announcement.

“Going forward, the best way for me to accomplish those goals is to step down as Party Chair at the end of this convention,” Wasserman Schultz said in her statement.

“As Party Chair, this week I will open and close the Convention and I will address our delegates about the stakes involved in this election not only for Democrats, but for all Americans,” she said. “We have planned a great and unified Convention this week and I hope and expect that the DNC team that has worked so hard to get us to this point will have the strong support of all Democrats in making sure this is the best convention we have ever had.”

Wasserman Schultz had faced intense pressure Sunday to resign her post, several Democratic leaders told CNN, urging her to quell a growing controversy threatening to disrupt Clinton’s nominating convention.

DNC Vice Chair Donna Brazile will serve as interim chair through the election, it was announced Sunday.

Separately, a Democratic operative said Hispanic leaders close to Clinton and her high command were discussing Housing Secretary Julian Castro as a possible successor to Wasserman Schultz at the DNC helm.

Chants of “Debbie resigned” broke out at a pro-Sanders rally in Philadelphia after the news was announced.

Party officials decided Saturday that Wasserman Schultz would not have a major speaking role or preside over daily convention proceedings this week.

The DNC Rules Committee has named Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, as permanent chair of the convention, according to a DNC source. She will gavel each session to order and will gavel each session closed.

“She’s been quarantined,” another top Democrat said of Wasserman Schultz, following a meeting Saturday night.

David Axelrod, a former top adviser to Obama’s presidential campaigns and a CNN senior political commentator, said Wasserman Schultz should resign.

“I would ask her to step aside. I would ask her to step aside because she’s a distraction in a week that is Hillary Clinton’s week,” Axelrod told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

After she announced she was resigning, Axelrod tweeted, “I find this quibbling over whether @DWStweets leaves now or Friday silly. What difference does it make? She’s out. She’s leaving. Move on!”

Obama issued a statement saying, “For the last eight years, Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has had my back. This afternoon, I called her to let her know that I am grateful.”

“Her leadership of the DNC has meant that we had someone who brought Democrats together not just for my re-election campaign, but for accomplishing the shared goals we have had for our country,” the president added.

DNC hack: What you need to know

Wasserman Schultz reluctantly agreed to relinquish her speaking role at the convention here, a sign of her politically fragile standing. But party leaders are now urging the Florida congresswoman to vacate her position as head of the party entirely in the wake of leaked emails suggesting the DNC favored Clinton during the primary and tried to take down Sanders by questioning his religion.

Democratic leaders are scrambling to keep the party united, but two officials familiar with the discussions said Wasserman Schultz had been digging in and not eager to vacate her post until after the November elections.

“She seems oblivious to the volcano that will erupt if she walked into that [convention] hall,” said a veteran Democratic operative, who added that as of Sunday morning, Wasserman Schultz believed the uproar would pass. “Forty percent of the people in that hall didn’t like her to begin with. She was going to get booed before all this.”

While Wasserman Shultz may be in danger of losing her job soon, she originally had no plans to seek re-election to her post as party leader when her term ends in January 2017.

Her stewardship of the DNC has been under fire through most of the presidential primary process, but her removal from the convention stage comes following the release of nearly 20,000 emails.

One email appears to show DNC staffers asking how they can reference Sanders’ faith to weaken him in the eyes of Southern voters. Another seems to depict an attorney advising the committee on how to defend Hillary Clinton against an accusation by the Sanders campaign of not living up to a joint fundraising agreement.

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