Bernie Sanders Leaves the Democratic Party

The Vermont senator will return to his roots as an Independent, but not as a protest over leaked information.

  • Published 28 July 2016

Claim

Sen. Bernie Sanders left the Democratic Party during the DNC (possibly as part of the #Demexit protest).

Collected via Twitter and e-mail, July 2016

Rating

Mostly False
About this rating

What's True

Sen. Bernie Sanders told reporters that when he returns to the Senate, it will be as an Independent; Sanders was elected as an Independent.

What's False

Sanders did not formally "leave" the Democratic Party, nor did he do so in protest.

Origin

On 27 July, during the Democratic National Convention, Conservative Outfitters published an article reporting that Bernie Sanders had formally left the Democratic Party:

BERNIE SANDERS IS NO LONGER A DEMOCRAT #DEMEXIT

PENNSYLVANIA – Another black eye for the Democratic Party as Bernie Sanders announces a huge change. In 2015 Sanders announced he was no longer an Independent and intended to run as a Democrat in all future elections. Sanders quickly changed his mind after leaked documents appear to show the Democratic Party unfairly worked to elect Hillary Clinton.

The story made it sound as though Sanders had left the party in protest over “DNCLeaks,” which revealed that the Democratic National Committee apparently worked to sabotage his candidacy.  A 26 July 2016 Wall Street Journal story provided more context:

Bernie Sanders said he plans to return to the Senate as an independent, despite winning 13 million votes in the Democratic Party’s presidential primary contest.

“I was elected as an independent; I’ll stay two years more as an independent,” Mr. Sanders said.

Speaking at the Bloomberg Politics breakfast on Tuesday, Mr. Sanders also said the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee doesn’t go far enough in fixing the situation and that more staff members need to leave following embarrassing disclosures of thousands of internal emails.

“We need a DNC which has as very different direction,” he said. “I honestly don’t know many of the people there. But my guess is we’re going to need new leadership, a new direction and new personnel.”

Asked after the event whether Mr. Sanders considers himself a Democrat or an independent, a campaign aide said, “He ran for president as a Democrat but was elected to a six-year term in the Senate as an independent.”

So while it’s true Sanders was returning to his Senate seat as an Independent, it is not true that he “left the party” to protest any leaked information.

Snopes.com
Since 1994
A Word to Our Loyal Readers

Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.

Editorial
  • David Mikkelson
  • Doreen Marchionni
  • David Emery
  • Bond Huberman
  • Jordan Liles
  • Alex Kasprak
  • Dan Evon
  • Dan MacGuill
  • Bethania Palma
  • Liz Donaldson
Operations
  • Vinny Green
  • Ryan Miller
  • Chris Reilly
  • Chad Ort
  • Elyssa Young

Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.

We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.

Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.

Team Snopes