In an interview Tuesday afternoon, former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton cited FBI Director James Comey's letter to Congress and WikiLeaks emails as reasons why she lost the 2016 election to President Donald Trump.
Clinton, who was speaking at a Women For Women International charity luncheon in New York on Tuesday, note that her campaign had its shortcomings, but still felt she was on a winning course just a week before the election.
"But I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28th 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,” Clinton said, according to a transcription from Politico.
Clinton also added, “I was the candidate. I was the person on the ballot. And I am very aware of, you know, the challenges, the problems, the, you know, shortfalls that we had.”
Tuesday's comments were the first time Clinton had assessed blame for her loss to the FBI and WikiLeaks.
Just 10 days before the 2016 Presidential election, most polls had Clinton leading Trump by about five or six points. But on Oct. 28, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress, telling lawmakers that the bureau was looking in to additional emails that could have been sent from an unsecured email serves that contained sensitive information. The FBI announced in the hours before the election that it had not found any evidence of wrongdoing, but not before Clinton's lead had shrunk to an average of two to three points.
Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta, had his email account hacked during the 2016 campaign. In the days leading up to the election, WikiLeaks dumped thousands of his personal messages on its site, revealing potentially damaging information to the public.
President Trump responded to Clinton's comments in a series of tweets on Tuesday evening, saying Comey gave Clinton "a free pass for many bad deeds."
FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds! The phony...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2017
...Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2017
Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.