Hillary Clinton blamed FBI director James Comey for her stunning defeat in Tuesday’s presidential election in a conference call with her top campaign funders on Saturday, according to two participants who were on the call.
Clinton was projected by nearly every national public opinion poll as the heavy favorite going into Tuesday’s race. Instead, Republican Donald Trump won the election, shocking many throughout the nation and prompting widespread protests.
Clinton has kept a low profile since her defeat after delivering her concession speech on Wednesday morning.
Clinton told her supporters on Saturday that her team had drafted a memo that looked at the changing opinion polls leading up to the election and that the letter from Comey proved to be a turning point. She said Comey’s decision to go public with the renewed examination of her email server had caused an erosion of support in the upper Midwest, according to three people familiar with the call.
Clinton lost in Wisconsin, the first time since 1984 that the state favored the Republican candidate in a presidential election. Although the final result in Michigan has still not been tallied, it is leaning Republican, in a state that last favored the Republican nominee in 1988.
Comey sent a letter to Congress only days before the election announcing that he was reinstating an investigation into whether Clinton mishandled classified information when she used a private email server while secretary of state from 2009 to 2012.
Comey announced a week later that he had reviewed emails and continued to believe she should not be prosecuted, but the political damage was already done.
Clinton told donors that Trump was able to seize on both of Comey’s announcements and use them to attack her, according to two participants on the call.
While the second letter cleared her of wrongdoing, Clinton said that it reinforced to Trump’s supporters that the system was rigged in her favor and motivated them to mobilize on Election Day.
The memo prepared by Clinton’s campaign, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, said voters who decided which candidate to support in the last week were more likely to support Trump than Clinton.
“In the end, late breaking developments in the race proved one hurdle too many for us to overcome,” the memo concludes.