Hillary Clinton told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour during a women’s event on Tuesday that she believes she was “on the way to winning” the 2016 presidential election until the FBI announced 11 days before the election that it was revisiting the investigation into her emails.
The former Secretary of State said that while she takes “absolute personal responsibility” for her defeat, “a combination of [FBI Director] 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.”
On October 28, Comey wrote a letter to Congress saying that the FBI had learned of “the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent” to the investigation into Clinton’s personal email server, which had originally been closed in July. The letter was promptly released by Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the chair of the House Oversight Committee, and dominated the headlines of major media outlets in the days leading up to the election.
“As Nate Silver has concluded, if the election had been on October 27, I would be your president,” Clinton said.
Silver, the editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight, has argued that the Comey letter cost Clinton the election. Clinton’s poll numbers dropped by three points after Comey published the letter, Silver has noted — a last-minute slip political scientists attributed to “the Comey effect,” according to The New York Times. He added that on Election Day, Clinton lost Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan by less than one percentage point each.
And in late July, months before the Comey letter was released, Wikileaks began publishing emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The self-described transparency organisation continued releasing the emails, believed to be hacked by Russian actors, in batches through October.
The US intelligence community concluded in January that the hacking campaign had been directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin to undermine Clinton’s candidacy and boost now-President Donald Trump.
“The evidence” that those two “intervening events” were carried out to harm her candidacy is “compelling and persuasive,” Clinton told Amanpour on Tuesday. But she said she is “proud” of her campaign for overcoming an “enormous barrage of negativity, of false equivalence, of so much else.”
Following Clinton’s earlier remarks about women’s rights being “the unfinished business of the 21st century,” Amanpour asked if Clinton believed “sexism, misogyny, and inequity” still exists in the United States, and if she believed that she was the victim of it during the election.
“I do think it played a role,” Clinton replied. “It is real, and it is very much a part of the landscape, politically, socially, and economically.” But she added that “other things” played a role as well.
“Every day that goes by we learn more about the unprecedented interference, including from a foreign power [Russia] whose leader is not a member of my fan club,” she said.
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