Top aides to Hillary Clinton believe the press and FBI Director James Comey contributed to her surprise election night loss, according to a Hill report out Thursday.
In a private conference call with supporters, Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, communications director Jennifer Palmieri and other senior staffers struggled to explain how their well-oiled campaign machine ultimately failed.
According to one Clinton surrogate who relayed the phone conversation to The Hill, Podesta said that Comey is the person “who we think may have cost us the election.”
The FBI director sent a letter to Congress eleven days before the election announcing the discovery of more emails that may have been related to their investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server as secretary of state. Though Comey announced the Sunday before Election Day that nothing new was found in the emails, the last week of the race was spent discussing them.
Donald Trump seized on the messages to burnish his campaign trail depiction of Clinton as corrupt and careless with national security information.
“That last week, it was just one too many things,” Palmieri reportedly said of the Comey letters.
Podesta reportedly took aim at the press for creating a “false moral equivalency” between the two major party candidates, focusing on Clinton’s emails while failing to sufficiently investigate Trump’s unpaid taxes and business dealings in Russia.
“The media always covered her as the person who would be president and therefore tried to eviscerate her before the election, but covered Trump who was someone who was entertaining and sort of gave him a pass,” Podesta said, according to The Hill. “We need to reflect and analyze that and put our voices forward.”
Trump targeted the media throughout his campaign for covering him too harshly, calling out individual journalists for their reporting and threatening to “open up” libel laws to make it easier to sue publications.