Tuesday 6 December 2016

Hillary Clinton: The FBI cost me the US presidency

Lisa Lerer

Published 13/11/2016 | 08:08

'It turns out that love does not trump hate after all'. Photo: Getty Images
'It turns out that love does not trump hate after all'. Photo: Getty Images

Hillary Clinton has blamed the FBI's decision to revive its examination of her email accounts for her devastating defeat in the presidential election.

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During a phone call with senior campaign donors, Mrs Clinton said she was winning until FBI director James Comey sent a letter to Congress announcing that the FBI had uncovered emails possibly related to its earlier probe into her use of a private server as secretary of state.

US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton makes a concession speech after being defeated by Republican presidential-elect Donald Trump, in New York
US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton makes a concession speech after being defeated by Republican presidential-elect Donald Trump, in New York

The new examination was sparked by an unrelated investigation into former New York politician Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of one of her senior aides.

The surprise announcement by the FBI on October 28 came after three debates in which Republican Donald Trump was widely criticised for his performance.

Mrs Clinton told the donors that her campaign was leading by large margins in nearly every battleground state and was tied in Arizona, a traditionally Republican stronghold, until Mr Comey released his letter.

Mr Trump's campaign and Republican supporters seized on the news, even though it was unclear whether Mrs Clinton's correspondence was tied up in the probe.

Donald Trump and Barack Obama held a meeting at the White House Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Donald Trump and Barack Obama held a meeting at the White House Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Mr Comey told politicians on the Sunday before the election that the bureau had found no evidence to warrant criminal charges.

His "all clear" message only served to further motivate Trump supporters, Mrs Clinton told donors on the call.

In the nine days between Mr Comey's initial statement and his "all clear" announcement, nearly 24 million people cast early ballots. That was roughly 18% of the expected total votes for president.

While Mrs Clinton accepted some blame of her loss, said donors who listened to her call, she made little mention of the other factors driving Mr Trump's victory.

Democrats have spent much of this week reeling from their loss, with many in the party beginning a process of soul-searching designed to sort out what exactly went wrong.

Liberals like Vermont senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren say Democrats must embrace a more aggressive economic message - one Mrs Clinton largely shied away from during her campaign.

Tens of thousands of people marched in streets across the US on Saturday, staging the fourth day of protests against Mr Trump's surprise victory.

The protests - held in big cities like New York and Chicago as well as smaller ones, such as Worcester, Massachusetts, and Iowa City, Iowa - were largely peaceful, although two police officers were slightly injured in Indianapolis.

Protesters rallied at New York's Union Square before taking their cause up Fifth Avenue towards Trump Tower, where they were held back by police barricades.

The Republican president-elect was holed up inside his tower apartment, working with aides on the transition to the White House.

Among those railing against him was filmmaker Michael Moore, who tweeted a demand that Mr Trump "step aside".

Fashion designer Noemi Abad, 30, agreed.

"I just can't have Donald Trump running this country and teaching our children racism, sexism and bigotry," she said. "Out of his own mouth he made this division. He needs to go - there's no place for racism in society in America."

Mr Trump's comments - particularly a 2005 recording of him making lewd comments about women - sparked outrage during his campaign.

That spilled over into demonstrations following an election that ended with half of US voters choosing Mrs Clinton.

Demonstrators in Indianapolis threw rocks at police, slightly injuring two officers, said Police Chief Troy Riggs. Some protesters began chanting threats including "Kill the Police," and officers moved in to arrest seven demonstrators.

Police briefly fired pepper balls into the crowd during the confrontation.

"We believe that we have some instigators that arrived in our city," trying to start a riot, Mr Riggs said.

Rowdy demonstrators marched through Portland, Oregon, again on Saturday night despite calls from the mayor and police chief for calm.

Several hundred took to the streets and authorities reported at least one arrest after people in the crowd threw items at police in riot gear.

The gathering came after a news conference on Saturday in which Mayor Charlie Hayes and Police Chief Mike Marshman urged restraint after several days of violent marches that damaged property and left one person shot.

On Friday night, police used flash-bang grenades to disperse a crowd of hundreds, and 17 people were arrested and one man was shot and suffered non life-threatening injuries in what police described as a confrontation with gang members. Two people were arrested on attempted murder charges.

In Los Angeles, several thousand people marched through city streets on Saturday to condemn what they saw as Mr Trump's hate speech about Muslims, pledge to deport people in the country illegally and crude comments about women.

In other parts of the country, spirited demonstrations on college campuses and peaceful marches along city streets have taken place since Wednesday.

Demonstrations also took place internationally, including in Mexico City, while about 300 people protested against Mr Trump's election outside the US embassy near the landmark Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

President Barack Obama travels to Berlin next week to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel and several other European leaders, and is expected to confront global concerns about Mr Trump's election.

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