Clinton aides blame FBI director, media for devastating loss

Top aides to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBI Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father MORE are blaming FBI Director James Comey and the media for the Democrat’s devastating loss in the presidential election.

ADVERTISEMENT
Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, communications director Jennifer Palmieri and other Clinton aides sought to provide explanations during a private conference call Thursday with supporters of the Democratic nominee for a loss that to many came out of nowhere.

They were pressed on the call for answers and insight from supporters stung by the surprise loss.

At one point on the call, Podesta noted that Comey is the guy “who we think may have cost us the election,” according to one Clinton surrogate who relayed details about the call to The Hill.

Another unidentified aide also seemed to blame Comey.

“We saw turnout down and didn't do nearly as well as we thought. Something happened and it happened in a pretty steady way late in the race,” the aide said, according to the surrogate.

The surrogate said the clear message from the call was that Comey had contributed to the declining turnout.

 “That last week, it was just one too many things,” Palmieri added later, referring to the post-Comey final week of the campaign.

Comey on Oct. 28 shocked Washington and Democrats by telling Congress that the FBI had discovered new emails related to its investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of State. The FBI had decided against making criminal charges against Clinton over the summer for her handling of classified information on that server.

Polls between Clinton and Republican Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE had already tightened with the Comey news broke, and the race appeared to get closer over the next week.

On Nov. 6, Comey said the FBI had not found any information in the new emails that would change its original decision that Clinton should not be charged.

Aides also blamed the media for the loss.

“The media always covered her as the person who would be president and therefore tried to eviscerate her before the election, but covered Trump who was someone who was entertaining and sort of gave him a pass,” Podesta said. “We need to reflect and analyze that and put our voices forward.”

Trump during the campaign frequently criticized the media for being too hard on him.

Podesta, whose hacked emails were released by WikiLeaks over the campaign’s final stretch, said top Clinton aides will argue that the press created a “false moral equivalency” in its coverage of Clinton and Trump.

The campaign chairman blamed the press for “the dominance of the way they covered the email” controversy, saying it overlooked “the conflicts of Trump's businesses, the Russian contacts we are now learning to be true, the failure of the press following the 3-page leak to the New York Times to really dig into the income tax question.”

The Times in October published an explosive story that suggested Trump may not have paid income taxes for more than a decade. Trump had also been criticized for possible business dealings in Russia.

“We need to be mindful of the fact that they're going to continue, they won't quit, they're going to continue to throw mud,” he said of the press, adding that Clinton supporters need to “defend her and her legacy and the kind of person she is.”

Surrogates on the call who asked questions included donor J.B. Pritzker, Ready for Hillary co-founder Allida Black and strategist Maria Cardona. Black cried at one point during the call.

Palmieri also acknowledged the campaign is still looking for answers.

“Thirty-six hours after the most devastating loss in the history of American politics, we're looking at a white board right now with lots of ideas,” Palmieri said. “We're sort of figuring out what we need to do this week, and what we need Democrats to do in the next two months ahead of the inaugural.

“I don't have a real answer except to say we have ideas about what works needs to be done and hope there are people in a position to do that. We're trying to figure it out.”