Clinton campaign blames James Comey for election loss

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The Hillary Clinton campaign pinned blame on FBI Director James Comey for its stunning election night loss to Donald Trump.

Navin Nayak, the director of opinion research on the campaign, sent an email to senior staff Thursday evening outlining what it believed were the reasons for its loss. The email, which was first reported by Politico, was confirmed to Business Insider by a Clinton campaign staffer.

Nayak signaled in the email that the campaign believes two bombshells from Comey in the final days of the election helped swing the electorate toward Trump — an initial Comey letter to Congress that reactivated an investigation into Clinton's private email server, as well as a subsequent letter last Sunday that again cleared her of wrongdoing.

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Hillary Clinton speaks for the first time after losing the presidency
Hillary Clinton, former 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, arrives with Former U.S. President Bill Clinton to speak at the New Yorker Hotel in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Donald Trump, a Republican who has never held public office, defeated Clinton after a punishing campaign that exposed searing divides in the American public. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Hillary Clinton, former 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, arrives with Former U.S. President Bill Clinton to speak at the New Yorker Hotel in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Donald Trump, a Republican who has never held public office, defeated Clinton after a punishing campaign that exposed searing divides in the American public. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Hillary and Bill Clinton arrive to the New Yorker Hotel where she was to address supporters on November 9, 2016 in New York City. The former Democratic Presidential nominee conceded defeat to president-elect Donald Trump earlier in the morning. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: John Podesta, the campaign chairman of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waits for her to concede the presidential election at the New Yorker Hotel on November 9, 2016 in New York City. Republican candidate Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election in the early hours of the morning in a widely unforeseen upset. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (R) is embraced by Hillary Clinton beforeher address to her staff and supporters about the results of the U.S. election at a hotel in New York, November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Former President Bill Clinton applauds as his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Clinton conceded the presidency to Donald Trump in a phone call early Wednesday morning, a stunning end to a campaign that appeared poised right up until Election Day to make her the first woman elected U.S. president. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton makes a concession speech after being defeated by Republican president-elect Donald Trump as former President Bill Clinton(L) and running mate Tim Kaine look on in New York on November 9, 2016. / AFP / JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, accompanied by her husband former President Bill Clinton, concedes the presidential election at the New Yorker Hotel on November 9, 2016 in New York City. Republican candidate Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election in the early hours of the morning in a widely unforeseen upset. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton addresses her staff and supporters about the results of the U.S. election as former U.S. President Bill Clinton (L) and her running mate Tim Kaine applaud at a hotel in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton makes a concession speech after being defeated by Republican president-elect Donald Trump in New York on November 9, 2016. / AFP / JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton addresses her staff and supporters about the results of the U.S. election as her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, looks on at a hotel in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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"We believe that we lost this election in the last week. Comey's letter in the last 11 days of the election both helped depress our turnout and also drove away some of our critical support among college-educated white voters—particularly in the suburbs," Nayak wrote. "We also think Comey's 2nd letter, which was intended to absolve Sec. Clinton, actually helped to bolster Trump's turnout."

The campaign said Comey's first letter likely helped depress turnout among Clinton's supporters. That served as a shift in thinking, or at least posture, from last week, when the campaign's communications director had argued that the reactivated FBI investigation had actually helped excite Clinton's base.

But Nayak wrote that after seeing record early-vote turnout in several states, turnout lagged on Election Day in large, swing-states metropolitan areas like Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Raleigh-Durham.

Comey's second letter, Nayak subsequently wrote, "energized Trump supporters."

"There is no question that a week from Election Day, Sec. Clinton was poised for a historic win," Nayak wrote, adding, "In the end, late breaking developments in the race proved one hurdle too many for us to overcome."

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Additionally, Nayak pointed to anger at global institutions, a desire for change after a two-term Democratic president, the challenges of reassembling President Barack Obama's voting coalition, and the "unprecedented task" of electing the nation's first female president as hurdles to the campaign's success.

Nayak also suggested some blame lay at the feet of Green Party nominee Jill Stein, whose 130,000 votes in three key swing states were an "important reminder of the influence of 3rd party votes."

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