Oct. 27, 2016, is the day before FBI Director James Comey alerted members of the Senate that investigators had discovered a new batch of Clinton emails during the agency’s probe into disgraced former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, husband of longtime Clinton aide and confidant Huma Abedin.
Comey’s letter, released just 11 days before Election Day, ignited a firestorm of speculation and misreporting that the FBI had reopened its case into Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. An analysis by FiveThirtyEight found that a significant number of voters flipped to Trump in the final weeks of the campaign, and Clinton cited FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver during Tuesday’s interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour at the Women for Women event in New York.
“There is no such thing,” Clinton continued. “But 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 but got scared off. And the evidence for that intervening event is, I think, compelling, persuasive.”
U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously agree that Russia’s government fed emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta to WikiLeaks, which published the emails throughout much of the final stretch of the 2016 campaign. As Clinton notes, WikiLeaks’ publication of the Podesta emails began just hours after a damning 2005 Access Hollywood tape of Trump bragging about his ability to “grab” women by the genitals was released.
“Within an hour or two of the Hollywood Access [sic] tape being made public, the Russian theft of John Podesta’s emails hit WikiLeaks. What a coincidence,” Clinton said. “So, I mean, you just can’t make this stuff up. So, did we make mistakes? Of course, we did. Did I make mistakes? Oh my gosh, yes. You know, you’ll read my confession and my request for absolution.”
Nearly six months after Election Day, the FBI continues its investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia’s government. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are also investigating. Next Tuesday, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general fired by the Trump administration, will testify publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Clinton’s blame of Comey, Russia, and WikiLeaks comes with little surprise—and may be another example of Clinton staying on message. In their newly released book about the 2016 Clinton campaign, Shattered, journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes report that Podesta and campaign strategist Robby Mook hatched a plan “less than 24 hours after her concessions speech” to blame Russian hacking for Clinton’s loss.
“Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up,” Allen and Parnes write. “For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.”