Hillary blames FBI chief, Russia for 2016 defeat
Washington: Hillary Clinton has said she takes responsibility for her loss to Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential race, but blamed Russian interference and the timing of a letter from FBI Director James Comey as factors depriving her of an otherwise expected victory.
“If the election had been on October 27, I would be your President,” she told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour at a Women for Women International event in New York on Tuesday.
“I take absolute personal responsibility. I was the candidate, I was the person who was on the ballot. I am very aware of the challenges, the problems, the shortfalls that we had,” Clinton said.
She added that she was “on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me and got scared off.”
Clinton was referring to the decision by Comey to disclose — 11 days before election day — that the FBI was reviewing newly-discovered emails in relation to the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while at the helm of the Department of State.
Just days later, Comey concluded the emails were mostly personal or duplicates of what the government had already examined prior to clearing Clinton of any criminal charges.
Responding on Clinton’s comments, Trump in a series of late night tweets on Tuesday, both revisited his 2016 victory and seemingly slammed the judgement of his own FBI director.
“FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds! The phoney Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign,” Trump wrote in a series of messages.
Comey will appear before a Senate committee Wednesday, where he’ll face questions on Russian interference in the US election and why he decided to announce that the FBI was looking again at Clinton’s emails just days before the election.
Hours before Trump tweeted, Clinton welcomed the President’s ire after Amanpour predicted that the Twitter-focused President would respond to his former opponent.
“Fine. Better than the interfering in foreign affairs,” Clinton said of the prospect Trump would tweet about her.
She came back to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s role in the 2016 election and how he was able to tilt the scale in favour of Trump and against her.
Clinton also hung part of her 2016 loss on misogyny. “Yes, I do think it played a role. I think other things did as well,” she said.
The former Secretary of State also pledged to “publicly request” that the Trump administration “not end our efforts making women’s rights and opportunities” central to US policy.
And on North Korea, Clinton cautioned Trump against giving too much away by saying he would meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un under the right circumstances.
“I don’t believe that we alone are able to really put the pressure on this North Korean regime that needs to be placed,” she said.