© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Ohio U.S. Senator J.D. Vance Picked To Be Trump's Running Mate

Clinton Blames 2016 Loss On Comey Letter, Russian Interference — And Herself

Journalist Christiane Amanpour and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak during the Women For Women International's luncheon on Tuesday.
Ben Gabbe
Getty Images
Journalist Christiane Amanpour and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak during the Women For Women International's luncheon on Tuesday.

Updated at 11:20 p.m. ET

In her most frank remarks to date after her loss to President Trump, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton said that if not for a controversial letter from FBI Director James Comey and Russian meddling in the election, she would be sitting in the Oval Office right now.

Clinton told CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour during an interview at a Women for Women International luncheon Tuesday that she did take personal responsibility for her loss, because, ultimately, it was her name on the ballot. But she pointed to those key events that she said changed the trajectory of the race.

"I've been in a lot of campaigns and I'm very proud of the campaign I ran," the former secretary of state said. "It wasn't a perfect campaign — there's no such thing — but I was on the way to winning until a few things happened."

"If the election was on Oct. 27, I'd be your president," Clinton continued, pointing to an analysis by FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver showing that Comey's Oct. 28 announcement that the FBI was reopening the investigation into her private email server impacted her chances.

She also noted that within hours of the release of a damaging 2005 Access Hollywood tape of Trump making vulgar remarks about women, WikiLeaks had released emails from her campaign chief, John Podesta, intended to damage her and turn the focus off her opponent.

"[Russian President Vladimir Putin] certainly interfered in our election, and it was designed to hurt me and help my opponent," Clinton said. "And the opposing campaign took advantage of that as well."

"Did we make mistakes? Yes," Clinton said, teasing that she'd have much more to say about that in her upcoming memoir this fall. "The reason I believe we lost was because of events of the last 10 days."

And multiple times throughout the interview, she twisted the knife a bit more, noting that, "I did win 3 million more votes than my opponent" in the popular vote.

It was needling that seemed destined to eventually draw a pointed response from the president on Twitter, Amanpour noted, and Clinton said she was fine with that.

"Better that than interfering in foreign affairs" with his 140-character missives, she quipped.

Hours later, Trump would take that bait and responded on Twitter.

Clinton also acknowledged that misogyny did play a role in her loss and that she would elaborate on that in her book as well.

"I think it would have been a really big deal" to elect the first female president, Clinton said.

She criticized the media for not pushing Trump more for specifics on how he would keep his sweeping list of promises, including creating jobs. But she wouldn't apologize for her wonkiness and love of policy detail, even if that made it hard for her to connect with some voters.

"I can't be anything other than who I am," Clinton said.

She wasn't entirely dismissive of President Trump, though, revealing that she did support his decision last month to launch a missile strike in Syria after the country's president, Bashar Assad, used chemical weapons against his own people.

However, Clinton said she was "not convinced [the strike] really made much of a difference" and was concerned about possible backroom deals the Trump administration may have made with Russia, notifying Moscow beforehand of the strikes against their ally.

The former secretary of state also criticized cuts that Trump proposed for the State Department and foreign aid, noting that even his secretary of defense, James Mattis, said that strategy was unwise.

While Clinton didn't talk much about what she might do next — other than focusing on her memoirs — she did hint she wasn't through yet speaking out against the man who beat her last year.

"I'm back to being a private citizen — and part of the resistance," Clinton said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jessica Taylor is a political reporter with NPR based in Washington, DC, covering elections and breaking news out of the White House and Congress. Her reporting can be heard and seen on a variety of NPR platforms, from on air to online. For more than a decade, she has reported on and analyzed House and Senate elections and is a contributing author to the 2020 edition of The Almanac of American Politics and is a senior contributor to The Cook Political Report.