Bernie Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver and Barney Frank clashed Wednesday on MSNBC. (screenshot via MSNBC)

As the Democratic National Convention draws closer, former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, who has become increasingly critical of Bernie Sanders over the past month, appeared on MSNBC with Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver on Wednesday to discuss the convention and its committee appointments.

Before diving into the hostile interview, it’s worth reviewing the history between Frank and the Sanders campaign. Sanders was recently given the power to make five appointments to the Democratic National Committee, which writes the Democratic Party platform. Politico reports that Sanders chose “Arab-American Institute President James Zogby; Cornel West; Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison; Deborah Parker, an activist on Native American rights; and Bill McKibben, an activist on environmental issues.”

But Sanders was not thrilled with co-chairmen of two standing committees, Barney Frank and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy. International Business Times recently explained that Frank’s position is an obstacle for the Sanders campaign, noting that Frank not only “sits on the board of directors of a major bank that was recently named in a lawsuit about an alleged Ponzi scheme,” but that he “has also publicly boasted about the money he has raked in from Wall Street, both as a lawmaker and now as a top Democratic Party power broker.” Essentially, Frank’s position in the party encapsulates what Sanders believes is wrong with the current political system.

Seen in this context, it’s perhaps unsurprising that last weekend Sanders sent a letter to the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee in which he made a “formal credentials challenge” to Malloy and Frank’s positions. Politico reports:

Malloy serves as co-chairman of the convention’s Platform Committee, and Frank is co-chairman of the Rules Committee. Both have been unsparing in their criticism of Sanders. Frank dismissed the Sanders campaign’s objections in an interview with POLITICO on Saturday. Miller and Roosevelt also rejected the letter’s criticism.

The Sanders letter to Roosevelt and Miller reads: “Governor Malloy and Mr. Frank have both been aggressive attack surrogates for the Clinton campaign. Their criticisms of Senator Sanders have gone beyond dispassionate ideological disagreement and have exposed a deeper professional, political and personal hostility toward the Senator and his Campaign.”

The Vermont senator has argued before that Malloy and Frank, both Hillary Clinton supporters, have unfairly and aggressively attacked his candidacy.

Frank was none too pleased at the publication of this letter. On MSNBC on Wednesday, alongside host Chris Matthews, Frank gave Weaver a piece of his mind. Salon summarizes the heated exchange:

“Sen. Sanders is disappointed that he hasn’t won,” Frank, who has been a vocal critic of Sanders, said during an earlier interview with MSNBC’s Kate Snow. “He’s losing not because anything was rigged or there was dirty trickery. He’s losing because Hillary Clinton has gotten more votes.” …

Noting that Sanders has taken to describing longtime liberal icons like California Governor Jerry Brown and Senator Barbara Boxer as the “establishment,” host Chris Matthews opened by asking Weaver, “are you guys still trying to remove congressman Frank as chair of the Rules Committee?”

Weaver said the campaign wanted people who “may have been Clinton supporters,” but “have played a less divisive role.”

“I am somewhat surprised to hear a Sanders representative complain about divisive rhetoric,” Frank responded. “It seems to me that both he and I, Senator Sanders and I, have been very willing to speak out and be critical of other people.”

It’s worth remembering that this is not the first time Frank has criticized the Sanders campaign. In an opinion piece published by The Washington Post in March, Frank argued that Sanders’ “too big to fail” argument on financial institutions did not include any policy recommendations. “I am not surprised that the vigor with which some insist that only breaking up the banks can defuse the ‘too big to fail’ bomb vastly exceeds their willingness to tell us even approximately how low we must go,” he wrote.

Then, in April, Frank took to MSNBC to accuse Sanders of “McCarthyite” tactics. “The thing that bothered me in that interview and elsewhere in the campaign is a kind of McCarthyite suggestion that the reason big banks and other institutions haven’t been criminally prosecuted is in part because people have taken financial contributions,” Frank said. “There were policy choices I disagreed with but Senator Sanders’ consistent suggesting that somehow people were persuaded not to do that because of campaign contributions is, as I said, it’s a kind of McCarthyism.”

This escalation does not help to quell the fears of Democratic Party leaders who are worried about chaos at the convention this summer. Added to the recent outrage over controversial DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, this recurring conflict between Frank and the Sanders campaign proves that the divisive nature of this election season is not a problem that’s restricted to the Republican camp.

Watch the full exchange between Frank and Weaver below.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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