Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives for a signing of her new book 'What happened' at Barnes & Noble bookstore at Union Square in Manhattan, New York City, US. Picture: REUTERS/ANDREW KELLY
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives for a signing of her new book 'What happened' at Barnes & Noble bookstore at Union Square in Manhattan, New York City, US. Picture: REUTERS/ANDREW KELLY

Washington — Hillary Clinton said "the most important factor" in her loss of the 2016 presidential election was former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director James Comey’s letter to Congress a week before the vote, about new information found in the investigation of her use of a private e-mail server.

"The determining factor was the intervention by Comey on October 28," the former secretary of state told NBC on Wednesday in what was billed as her first live TV interview since the election. "It stopped my momentum. It drove voters from me."

"I was just dumbfounded. I thought, what was he doing?" said Clinton, who is promoting What Happened, her memoir of the campaign that went on sale this week. "He went way beyond his role in doing what he did."

Clinton also said Comey, who President Donald Trump has said he fired while thinking about the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russian meddling in the election, was terminated for the wrong reason.

"He should have been disciplined for the way he behaved on the e-mail investigation," she said, declining to say whether Comey should have been fired.

Clinton said she took responsibility for her loss to Trump. But she also blamed Russian interference, negative news coverage and misogyny. In the end, it was Comey’s intervention that cost her the election, she said.

"Absent that, I believe — and I think the evidence shows — I would’ve won," she said. "Were there headwinds? Yes. Were there lots of other issues and this whole interference by Russia is still an issue? Absolutely. But the role that he played historically was determinative."

The White House has criticised the book, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders describing it as "sad".

"I think it’s sad that after Hillary Clinton ran one of the most negative campaigns in history and lost, and the last chapter of her public life is going to be now defined by propping up book sales with false and reckless attacks," Sanders told reporters on Tuesday.

Bloomberg

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