Hillary Clinton’s aides were so sure she would win that they reportedly popped champagne on the campaign plane on Election Day.
Hours later, instead of becoming the nation’s first female president as polls had predicted, Clinton suffered one of the most stunning political defeats in history, and Donald Trump became the new president-elect.
The New York Times reported the champagne element on Saturday, as part of a story that detailed Clinton’s comments echoing a memo from her campaign that blamed her shocking loss on FBI Director James Comey.
A mere 11 days before the election, Comey sent a letter notifying Congress that the FBI was looking into new emails related to Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state. The agency discovered the emails while investigating former congressman Anthony Weiner. But the Sunday before Election Day, Comey announced the emails didn’t warrant additional investigation, and again cleared Clinton.
The Clinton campaign and prominent Democrats slammed Comey for his timing, accusing the Republican FBI director of trying to sway the election.
And the campaign doubled down on that accusation in an email sent to senior staff on Thursday. Navin Nayak, the director of opinion research on the campaign, wrote that Comey’s bombshells depressed Clinton’s support among college-educated white voters in the suburbs and galvanized Trump’s base.
“There is no question that a week from Election Day, Sec. Clinton was poised for a historic win,” Nayak wrote. “In the end, late breaking developments in the race proved one hurdle too many for us to overcome.”
Nayak also acknowledged anger at global institutions, a desire for change after a two-term Democratic president, votes for third-party candidates, and the “unprecedented task” of electing the nation’s first female president as hurdles to the campaign’s success.