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Democratic Hillary Clinton Blames FBI Director James Comey for Her US Presidential Election Defeat

Three people who took part in Clinton's telephonic conference recounted her analysis of the election outcome

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pauses as she speaks during a campaign rally in Raleigh, N.C., Nov. 8, 2016. VOA
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November 12, 2016: In a telephone call to her campaign donors, Hillary Clinton has blamed FBI Director James Comey for her defeat in the U.S. presidential election, saying his reopening of a probe into her use of a private email server broke the momentum of her campaign.

Nearly every national opinion poll showed Democrat Clinton leading Republican challenger Donald Trump in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s election, but he scored surprising wins across the country when vote counting began, and claimed victory less than 12 hours after most polls closed.

Clinton told donors Saturday that a review of national opinion polls showed Comey’s letter to Congress about new email discoveries, made public just 11 days before the election, was a bombshell development that proved too much to “overcome.”

Former President Bill Clinton applauds as his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks in New York where she conceded her defeat to Republican Donald Trump after the hard-fought presidential election, Nov. 9, 2016. VOA
Former President Bill Clinton applauds as his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks in New York where she conceded her defeat to Republican Donald Trump after the hard-fought presidential election, Nov. 9, 2016. VOA

Three people who took part in Clinton’s telephonic conference recounted her analysis of the election outcome, the Reuters news agency reported.

First detailed Clinton comment

Clinton’s conversation with her supporters Saturday was the first time she has discussed in detail the outcome of her unsuccessful campaign. She has kept a low profile since conceding the election to Trump in a speech to her supporters and staff in New York City on Wednesday morning.

Comey said in a letter to lawmakers on October 28 that he was revisiting an investigation into whether Clinton mishandled classified information by using a private email server instead of government computers while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2012. The new investigation, Comey said, was necessary because his agents had discovered additional emails that could be relevant to the case.

He was referring to the FBI’s accidental discovery of 650,000 Clinton emails during an unconnected investigation into potentially criminal activities by the now-estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. The emails were on a laptop computer used by both Abedin and her husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner.

Critics denounce Comey’s timing

Comey’s letter to congressional leaders contained few details about the newly discovered emails, which heightened media speculation. Sources with knowledge about the case suggested the emails were mostly or entirely copies of documents that the FBI had already reviewed, but Comey’s highly unusual and cryptic announcement threw the final week of the presidential campaign into turmoil.

FILE - FBI Director James Comey testifies before a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, July 14, 2016. VOA
FILE – FBI Director James Comey testifies before a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, July 14, 2016. VOA

Clinton’s defenders assailed the FBI director for disrupting the campaign by making his unexpected announcement without providing further information. A fuller disclosure, they said, would have exonerated the former secretary of state from any suggestion that she acted improperly.

Clinton’s opponents seized on the late-breaking FBI announcement and declared once again that they believed this could be evidence incriminating her. However, even some prominent members of the Republican Party rebuked Comey for inappropriately intruding into the presidential campaign and acting more like a prosecutor than an investigator.

Clinton cleared, but damage done

Nine days after disclosing his letter to Congress, Comey spoke out again, saying that his agents’ intensive study of the new emails showed no wrongdoing by Clinton, and thus there would be no change in his announcement more than three months earlier that she would not face any charges in connection with her handling of official email.

However, the political damage appeared to have been done.

Even though she was absolved of blame, Clinton said, the FBI director’s remarks eroded her support in the upper Midwest, in states such as Wisconsin and Michigan, which often are called a “blue wall” of support for Democratic presidential candidates.

A spokesperson for the FBI could not immediately be reached for comment, Reuters reported.

Trump’s unexpected victory in both Wisconsin and Michigan on Tuesday was a key part of his stunning defeat of Clinton, which shocked the nation and has since led to a series of anti-Trump protests by young activists in many cities. (VOA)

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President Donald Trump Key Force In Driving The Midterms Elections

Trump’s name will not appear on the Nov. 6 ballots, but, he will clearly be front and center in the minds of voters

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Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks at a rally endorsing the Republican ticket in Erie, Pennsylvania, VOA

Three weeks before a crucial U.S. midterm election, it would be difficult to find much that Democrats and Republicans agree on. Both parties, however, seem to agree on one thing: President Donald Trump will be the key issue in elections that will determine control of Congress for the next two years.

For many voters, the “Trump factor” could be a deciding consideration in this year’s midterms. And as the president campaigns on behalf of Republicans around the country, he is quick to remind his supporters that he has a huge personal stake in the outcome on Nov. 6.

“All of this extraordinary progress is at stake,” Trump told a recent rally in Southaven, Mississippi. “I’m not on the ballot. But in a certain way, I am on the ballot. So please, go out and vote. Go out and vote.”

Motivating Democrats

As much as Trump motivates his core supporters, he also energizes critics like Jenny Heinz, who helped organize a recent anti-Trump rally in New York City.

“There is an active resistance to this president, who is operating as if he is above the law.”

No question, Trump is the central figure in this year’s election, according to American University analyst David Barker.

“Yes, Democrats from the day after the election in 2016 have been waiting for this day, and it is all about Trump,” Barker told VOA. “Trump fully embraces that. He wants it to be all about him.”

Historically, midterm elections have been a mix of local issues, local candidates, and partly a referendum on the sitting president.

This year’s campaign seems to have accelerated a trend whereby midterm congressional elections have increasingly become nationalized.

“It really is now all national, and everyone is kind of looking at this as either a referendum for or against the president and his party,” said George Washington University expert Lara Brown.

Trump
supporters of President Donald Trump, wearing Mike Braun for Congress shirts, cheer as he arrives for a campaign rally at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind. VOA

In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, a majority of voters in both parties said a congressional candidate who shares their view of Trump is an important consideration as they assess the coming midterms.

Seizing the spotlight

Unlike some presidents who have tried to resist the idea that the midterms are a presidential referendum, Trump has willingly embraced it.

Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon told Associated Press Television that he favors the approach.

“I think if you make this a national referendum and nationalize this election on the success of President Trump’s program, it is a clear winner, and I think the Democrats get crushed.”

Others are skeptical, including former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

“All right, fine. You want it to be about you? Well, every candidate on the ballot now has to account for your behavior, has to account for your tweets,” said Steele, a recent guest on VOA’s Plugged In with Greta Van Susteren.

Climate Change, Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. VOA

Trump hopes to boost Republican turnout in November; but, Democrats argue he is likely to be just as effective in spurring their voters to the polls.

Maryland Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger also spoke on Plugged In.

“When all you do is care about yourself and not about people, not about what they need – like your seniors needing medical care. And you just want to look good and knock them out (politically), which is happening, this is hurting. And this is why, I think, a lot of people will come out (to vote).”

Tending the base

Trump has been aggressive on the campaign trail courting his base, especially in Republican-leaning states where many of this year’s closer Senate races are taking place.

“They are focusing on their base, and they are trying to make sure that they are going to show up and vote. And it could make some difference in close midterm elections,” said University of Virginia analyst Larry Sabato.

Trump, USA
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. administers the House oath of office to Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., during a mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, . VOA

Some Republicans have urged Trump to try and broaden his appeal beyond his base during campaign visits this year.

But Gallup pollster Frank Newport said the president has limited options.

Also Read: Obama On Why Its Important To Vote In This Midterm Elections

“He has kind of given up on attempting to broaden his appeal, it looks like. It fits more with his style,” said Newport. “He has, as we all know, a very combative style. He likes to have enemies because that gives him somebody to fight against. So, it would be hard for a president like Trump anyway to try and broaden his appeal.”

Trump’s name will not appear on the Nov. 6 ballots, but, he will clearly be front and center in the minds of voters, and the midterm results could determine the future of his presidency. (VOA)