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Hillary Clinton blames Russian hackers and FBI's Comey for 2016 election loss

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 2/05/2017 Philip Rucker

Hillary Clinton today attributed her defeat in the 2016 presidential election to interference by Russian hackers and FBI Director James Comey, and declared herself to be “part of the resistance” to Donald Trump’s presidency.

“If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president,” Clinton told moderator Christiane Amanpour, the CNN anchor, at a Women for Women event in New York.

After spending the past six months in relative hibernation, Clinton made a rare public appearance today and ruminated extensively for the first time on her loss. She said she has been busy writing a memoir, a process she described as a “cathartic” yet “excruciating” and “painful.”

While Clinton said she takes “absolute personal responsibility” for losing to Trump, she did not assign any blame to her strategy or staff. Nor did she point to her own weaknesses as a candidate or the struggles by her and her team to understand the angry mood of key parts of the electorate.

Hillary Clinton. © Reuters Hillary Clinton. Instead, Clinton said a range of external forces were responsible for her surprise defeat. She said she was a victim of misogyny and unfair treatment by the news media. And she said she was confident that she was on track to winning the election until two things reversed her momentum: the release of campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails, which were allegedly stolen by Russian hackers, and Comey’s October 28 letter to Congress that he had reopened the bureau’s investigation into her use of a private email server.

“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 and got scared off,” Clinton said.

Hillary Clinton. © The Washington Post Hillary Clinton. Clinton talked about “the unprecedented interference” by a foreign leader “who is not a member of my fan club” — a reference to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, with whom she tangled as secretary of state.

When Amanpour asked whether she thought misogyny contributed to her loss as the first female presidential nominee, Clinton said, “Yes, I do think it played a role.”

Clinton repeatedly ribbed Trump in the interview, leaving no doubt that she disapproves of both his policy decisions and personal conduct in office. She suggested that Trump should tweet more about her than about foreign affairs, saying she would rather be “the diversion.” And Clinton said she intends to speak out in the public arena.

“I’m back to being an activist citizen — and part of the resistance,” she said.

Aaron Blake contributed to this report.

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