A] person close to Clinton’s decision-making process told Slate that she had decided to drop out after hearing that Nielsen was also on the docket. “We work with a lot of activists who are trying to do their best to improve this horrible situation down at the border,” the person said, citing Clinton’s support of RAICES and other organizations that advocate for asylees and immigrants. “At the end of the day, it’s an easy decision. You have to side with them.”
The person said one of those activists alerted Clinton to Nielsen’s slot on the schedule earlier this week, after which Clinton’s team notified Fortune that she would no longer be attending the event. Friday evening, Clinton’s name and headshot were removed from the summit’s website.
Nielsen’s inclusion in the event has garnered blowback, resulting in over 51,000 people signing a petition demanding Fortune boot the former Trump cabinet member from the event. However, Fortune communications manager Alison Klooster signaled there are no plans to bow to the pressure campaign:
Fortune strongly believes that interviewing Nielsen—and other key figures from the private and public sector, however controversial—is important journalism and provides us an opportunity to ask substantive questions in front of our viewers and readers.
Nielsen served as head of the DHS from December 6th, 2017 to April 10th, 2019. The event will take place over October 21st-23rd.
In addition to Nielsen, 2020 presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) — whom Clinton attacked on Friday as “the favorite of the Russians” — is also scheduled to attend the Fortune event. Appearing on a podcast hosted by David Plouffe, President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign manager, Clinton claimed Gabbard was being “groomed” by the Kremlin as a potential third-party candidate.
Gabbard clapped back at Clinton in a series of tweets, branding her the “queen of warmongers” and the culprit behind a smear piece published by the New York Times ahead of this week’s Democrat presidential debate in Westerville, Ohio.
The Hawaii Congresswoman has also now released a video on Twitter, in which she revisits the source of the feud with Clinton and establishment Democrats; attributing this primarily to her 2016 support of Senator Bernie Sanders. She recalls in Sunday’s video: “People warned me in 2016 that my endorsement of Bernie Sanders would be the end of my ‘political career.’ They said, ‘Clinton will never forget,’ that ‘she and her rich and powerful friends, her allies in politics and the media, will make sure that you are destroyed.’”
Gabbard also repeated assertions she made during the most recent Democrat Presidential debate, referring in the video to the “countless hit pieces” against her in the mainstream media, the most recent of which was an Oct. 11 article in the New York Times painting Gabbard as a right-wing extremist. (The Times hosted the fourth primary debate just three days later, and the article — which lacked any evidence — was seen by some as an effort to marginalize Gabbard after she had attacked Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) effectively in the second debate.)
Per this Breitbart report: “Gabbard resigned from her post within the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in protest at the way then-chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) was treating Sanders. Her concerns were later vindicated by Wikileaks, which released emails showing that party leaders had conspired to help Clinton secure the nomination, forcing Schultz to resign.”