Hillary Clinton has blamed FBI director James Comey’s announcements about her use of a private email server just days before election for her stunning defeat in Tuesday’s presidential election.
In a conference call with her top donors on Saturday, the Democrat said Comey’s first letter on October 29 informing congressional leaders of new evidence “pertinent” to the investigation of her emails stopped her momentum.
Clinton, who was ahead of Trump in polls at that stage as she had been for most of the year, had planned to use the next few days to wrap up her case for herself on a positive note.
“There are lots of reasons why an election like this is not successful...Our analysis is that Comey’s letter raising doubts that were groundless, baseless...stopped our momentum,” a donor cited her as saying, The New York Times reported.
Instead of ending the campaign on an optimistic note as planned, the Clinton campaign found itself forced on the defensive and spent the next few days attacking Trump, continuing to portray him as unfit for office, citing his many character issues.
Comey’s second letter, just two days before election day, cleared her of any wrongdoing but had the opposite effect. Clinton aides have said many undecided voters were thrown off by that and may have gone with Trump convinced by his charge that the system was rigged.
“We believe we lost the election in the last week,” said an internal memo circulated by the Clinton campaign analysing the outcome. “Comey’s letter in the last 11 days of the election both helped depress our turnout and drove away some of our critical support among college-educated white voters, specially in the suburbs.
And Comey’s second letter, the note said, “which was intended to absolve Sec. Clinton, actually helped to bolster Trump’s turnout.”
Losing teams often find external factors outside their control to blame for their situation, as critics pointed out. In this case Comey didn’t ask Clinton to use a private email server, one said, arguing the original fault was Clinton’s.
Still stunned by Clinton’s defeat, her supporters have started an online petition to overturn Trump’s election, arguing he lost the popular vote, reigniting a case that last came up in 2000 when George W Bush, a Republican, lost the popular vote to Al Gore, a Democrat, but won the electoral college votes, and the presidency.
Clinton won 61.2 million votes to Trump’s 60.5 million — with postal votes still being counted, this is not the final tally — but lost the race for the electoral college votes 232-306.
The online petition, which has gathered more than 3 million signatures so far, is urging members of the electoral college to vote for Clinton on December 19 when they will poll to technically elect the new president.