Hillary Clinton blames FBI director, WikiLeaks for her election loss
Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton opened up Tuesday about her election loss in an interview at a Women for Women event in New York, admitting that her campaign made some mistakes while also taking jabs at President Donald Trump.
She poked fun at Trump’s tweets and his repeated comments about the election while saying she was on her way to winning the election if not for a last-minute letter to Congress from FBI Director James Comey and the release of campaign emails from WikiLeaks.
She took questions from CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour in the event hosted by Women for Women International, an organization that works for equality and higher standards of living for women in war-torn countries around the world.
Here are five takeaways from Tuesday’s interview with the former secretary of state:
1. Clinton points to Comey and WikiLeaks for her election loss.
Clinton said she thinks she would have won the election if not for two major events during the home stretch of the campaign.
“I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey’s letter on Oct. 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off,” Clinton said. “And the evidence for that intervening event is I think compelling, persuasive, and so we overcame a lot in the campaign.”
Clinton said the Trump campaign “quite coordinated with the goals” of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the election, adding that Putin “certainly interfered in our election — to hurt me and help my opponent.”
When asked whether misogyny was also to blame for her election loss, she replied, “I do think it played a role.”
President Trump took issue with Clinton’s Comey comment, taking to twitter late Tuesday night. “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!” he wrote. “The phony Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?”
2. But Clinton also takes personal responsibility for defeat.
Clinton said she also took some responsibility for losing the 2016 election. “I take absolute personal responsibility,” she said. “I was the candidate. I was the person who was on the ballot.”
She added, “I am writing a book and it’s a painful process, reliving the campaign.”
She said she was “very aware of the challenges, the problems, the shortfalls that we had.” Did her campaign make mistakes? “Of course,” she said.
3. On the attack against Trump.
Clinton told supporters in attendance that Trump “should worry less about the election and my winning the popular vote,” adding, “I did more than 3 million votes than my opponent.”
She also jabbed Trump over his strategy on North Korea and negotiating with its leader, Kim Jong-un.
“The [talks] have to be part of a broader strategy, not just thrown out on a tweet that hey, let’s get together and see if we can’t get along,” she said.
Clinton won the popular vote by roughly 2 percentage points, but lost the electoral vote.
4. Clinton says she’s “part of the resistance.”
The interview didn’t sound like one from a politician who was done being in the spotlight, raising questions from pundits about whether she is leaving the door open to a third presidential run in 2020.
“I’m now back to being an activist citizen and part of the resistance,” Clinton said to cheers from the audience. She also chimed in on current policy issues, such as China’s role in clean energy development, the North Korean crisis, the Syrian airstrikes and women’s issues.
5. Clinton says she’s not going to change.
“I can’t be anything other than who I am. I spent decades learning about what it would take to move our country forward,” she said, touting her experience and deep grasp of complicated policy issues at multiple points in the interview. She also pushed the importance of a comprehensive strategy in economic policy — calling it a “boring word.”