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Obama breaks down Hillary's 2016 loss in off-record remarks to press

Obama blamed Hillary, Bill and Comey for her loss to Trump: Newly unearthed off-the-record comments from just days before he left office reveal he blamed her email scandal, Bill’s secret tarmac meeting and FBI Director’s press conference for loss

  • Obama spoke with reporters three days before he left office 
  • The comments were ‘off the record’ but DOJ handed over in response to FOIA
  • He spoke about Bill Clinton’s meeting, Hillary’s email scandal, and former FBI Director James Comey’s infamous press conference 
  • Also mentions Russia hack and how hacked material drove coverage 

President Barack Obama reflected just days before leaving office on the many causes of Hillary Clinton’s upset 2016 loss – and considered how things might have turned out had key actors including Bill and Hillary Clinton made ‘different decisions.’

Obama made the comments  off the record during a meeting with progressive columnists just three days before being succeeded by Donald Trump following the bitter election, where Clinton won the popular vote but Trump prevailed in the Electoral College. 

A transcript was included in a cache of documents the Justice Department provided to Bloomberg as part of a FOIA request –  apparently by accident.  

Obama expressed his general optimism about the country and said there were ‘multiple contingencies that resulted in Trump being elected and not somehow suggest that the country is invariably racist, misogynist, what have you,’ he said – following a campaign where candidate Clinton and many of her surrogates accused Trump of racism.

‘And the fact of the matter is, setting aside that Hillary Clinton got the substantially bigger share of the vote, I think it’s fair to say that a whole series of different things happening – how the email thing unfolded, and sort of the chain from Bill Clinton getting on that plane, to Comey making an announcement,’ Obama said.

Former President Barack Obama broke down Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss in off the record comments to reporters before leaving office

‘At a bunch of different junctures, people could have made different decisions that would have resulted in it playing differently.’

He was referencing several pivot points in the election. One was Clinton’s email scandal and how it ‘unfolded’ – a comment that could encompass elements from Clinton’s decision to maintain a private email server in her home, to her decision to have her team delete thousands of ‘personal’ emails, to her own public explanations that the candidate would offer. Clinton ultimately apologized and called it a ‘mistake.’

He also referenced Bill Clinton’s infamous June 2016 meeting with then-AG Lynch on a Phoenix airport tarmac in 2016. Clinton said the two spoke about grandchildren and other matters, but critics said it was inappropriate at the time the email investigation was underway. 

The third event he listed was former FBI Director James Comey’s decision to hold a July 2016 press conference where he said Clinton hadn’t committed crimes but had been ‘extremely careless.’ Then he held a second press conference announcing the investigation was being reopened after authorities uncovered additional emails on disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop.  

Obama also reflected on the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and former Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, which U.S. intelligence attributes to Russia. The documents started appearing on web sites during the campaign. 

He referenced a firehose of media reports based off the hacked information. 

‘I think the Russian leaks, how that played out, how all this stuff was reported – I mean, I’m just being honest with you, and many of you share this view. You guys weren’t necessarily the culprits, but how that played out,’ he told the opinion journalists.

He also pointed to widespread polling failures as well as strategic campaign errors by Clinton.

‘Some failures of polling and analytics leading a leading Democratic candidate never to appear in Michigan or Wisconsin, or show up in a union hall, right? I mean, there’s just a bunch of stuff that could have happened in which we wouldn’t be having this particular conversation.’

It is not clear why the government handed over the material. 

‘It’s a doc I didn’t specifically ask for,’ reporter Jason Leopold tweeted.

In other comments, Obama expressed faith in U.S. institutions, and the difficulty Trump would have trying to undo his legacy such as by trying to repeal Obamacare.

‘I think that four years is okay. Take on some water, but we can kind of bail fast enough to be okay. Eight years would be a problem. I would be concerned about a sustained period in which some of these norms have broken down and started to corrode 

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