13 Nov 2016

Clinton blames FBI boss for election defeat

2:03 pm on 13 November 2016

Hillary Clinton has blamed the FBI director for her surprise loss in the United States presidential race.

James Comey and Hillary Clinton.

James Comey and Hillary Clinton. Photo: AFP

Mrs Clinton says James Comey's announcement shortly before election of a new inquiry into her use of a private server for emails while secretary of state stopped her campaign's momentum.

Hillary Clinton blamed Mr Comey in a conference call with her top campaign funders on Saturday, according to two participants who were on the call.

Clinton was projected by nearly every national public opinion poll as the heavy favourite going into Tuesday's race.

Instead, Republican Donald Trump won the election, prompting widespread protests.

Mrs Clinton has kept a low profile since delivering her concession speech on Wednesday morning.

Hillary Clinton accompanied by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, concedes the election.

Hillary Clinton accompanied by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, concedes the election. Photo: AFP

Mrs Clinton told her supporters on Saturday her team had drafted a memo that looked at the changing opinion polls leading up to the election.

She said Comey's decision to go public with the renewed examination of her email server eroded support in the upper Midwest, according to three people familiar with the call.

Mrs Clinton lost in Wisconsin, the first time since 1984 that the state favoured the Republican candidate in a presidential election.

Although the final result in Michigan has not been tallied, it is leaning Republican, in a state that last favoured the Republican nominee in 1988.

Mr Comey sent a letter to Congress only days before the election announcing that he was reinstating an investigation into whether Clinton mishandled classified information while secretary of state from 2009 to 2012.

Mr Comey announced a week later that he had reviewed emails and continued to believe she should not be prosecuted.

The political damage was already done.

Mrs Clinton told donors that Trump was able to seize on both of Comey's announcements and use them to attack her, according to two participants on the call.

While the second letter cleared her of wrongdoing, Mrs Clinton said it reinforced to Mr Trump's supporters that the system was rigged in her favour and motivated them to mobilize on Election Day.

The memo prepared by Clinton's campaign, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, said voters who decided which candidate to support in the last week were more likely to support Trump than Clinton.

"In the end, late breaking developments in the race proved one hurdle too many for us to overcome," the memo concludes.

A spokesperson for the FBI could not immediately be reached for comment.

On the phone call, Dennis Chang, who served as Mrs Clinton's finance chair, said her campaign and the national party raised more than $900 million from more than 3 million individual donors, according to the two participants who spoke to Reuters.

Chief of staff announcement 'imminent'

Kellyanne Conway, who served as Donald Trump's campaign manager, said on Saturday the announcement of a new chief of staff was "imminent."

Two candidates whose names have surfaced as contenders for the top White House job are campaign chief executive Steve Bannon and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

Trump hunkered down at Trump Tower with members of the transition team announced on Friday tasked with selecting the 15 Cabinet posts and thousands of political appointment jobs.

Trump will deliver a speech about his plans in the coming days and may undertake a national victory tour, Conway said, without providing further details.

Mr Trump will be sworn in on January 20.

In an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" that will air on Sunday, Mr Trump said he is not ready to give up his Twitter account, where he routinely posted controversial statements during the campaign.

"I'm going to be very restrained, if I use it at all, I'm going to be very restrained," Trump said.

- Reuters