It's Russian hackers, FBI and Wikileaks wot won it – Hillary Clinton on her devastating election loss

Oddly, fails to mention massive voter distrust, strategic failings


Hillary Clinton today gave her first full interview since dramatically losing the US presidential election – and has placed the blame for her downfall on Russian hackers, FBI director James Comey and Wikileaks.

"If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president," Clinton told CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour at a women's event in New York.

That was a reference to a letter sent from FBI director James Comey to Congress on October 28, 2016 which stated the federal investigator was looking into newly discovered messages that were linked to the private email server run by Clinton while Secretary of State.

The letter reopened a constant line of attack on Clinton less than two months after it had effectively been put to bed, with an FBI report saying it had found no wrongdoing and no hacking of her server.

The "new" emails, found on the phone of dick-texting former politician Anthony Weiner who was husband to Clinton aide Huma Abedin, turned out to be nothing at all, as the FBI officially noted two weeks later – just two days before the election. But by then the damage was done. It is understood Comey was required by law to disclose the probe to Congress.

Clinton also flagged the release of emails taken from the account of her campaign director John Podesta by Russian hackers and supplied to Julian Assange's vanity project Wikileaks as key to her defeat.

"I 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," she argued, noting the "unprecedented interference" by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Just for good measure, she also blamed the media and woman-hating for her failure to take the top job. Asked by Amanpour whether misogyny had played a role in the first female presidential candidate losing, Clinton replied: "Yes, I do think it played a role."

And then, somewhat bizarrely given the effort put into highlighting external forces as destroying her bid, she said that she took "absolute personal responsibility" for losing to Donald Trump.

Maybe not the whole story?

While there is little doubt that the hacks, Comey's completely unnecessary letter, and misogyny played a role in Clinton's defeat, the fact that the former first lady and senator was unwilling or unable to see the flaws in the performance of both herself and her staff is, ironically, one of the main reasons she lost.

A new book out last month, Shattered, dug into Clinton's campaign and reached some pretty damning conclusions about her team's election efforts – many of which were flagged but ignored during the long journey to the polls.

Although Clinton lost some states by very narrow margins (and easily won the popular vote) – which supports the idea of Russia/Comey tipping the balance – her team also took some states like Wisconsin and Michigan for granted and paid the price.

While those high up in the Clinton campaign kept playing to their core supporters, and even started talking up the possibility of turning Texas (Texas!) blue, those on the ground were complaining that she was failing to connect with working-class white voters, as well as undecided and young voters.

The book Shattered places a big part of the blame on the over-confidence of her campaign manager Robby Mook on a data analytics program he used that provided predictions of polls. Mook placed the program's insights above those of his local organizers and even her husband, former president Bill Clinton, and directed resources accordingly – and wrongly.

There is no way the program could have accounted for Donald Trump's wildly unorthodox and populist campaign. And it almost certainly was not capable of understanding the dueling personalities of a TV celebrity willing to say anything and a firm establishment figure that many voters had disliked for over a decade.

And the loss to Barry?

In addition, it seems that Clinton never learned the lessons from her failure to beat Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate at the previous election, and continued to surround herself with long-term supporters thanks to her habit of valuing loyalty over competence.

Even the sudden, unexpected success of Bernie Sanders as a potential Democratic candidate failed to wake up the Clinton campaign to the realities of what was happening.

In large part that's because Hillary Clinton has lived within a bubble of the super-rich and powerful for nearly 20 years. When you are paid over $200,000 just to give a speech, you have no meaningful connection to 99.9 per cent of voters.

Even now, having lost in the most spectacular fashion to probably the least-qualified US presidential candidate in history, Clinton is unable to see her and her team's own failings.

No doubt, she hopes that the ongoing investigations into the numerous and deeply troubling links between Vladimir Putin's intelligence services and senior members of the Trump campaign will exonerate her failed bid for the presidency.

But the truth is, dodgy email security aside, Clinton didn't win because not quite enough of America liked her or wanted her to be their commander in chief. ®

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