Clinton: Comey liked to talk about my emails but not investigation of Russians

Andrew Bahl

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton opened up Wednesday in an appearance at a tech conference, arguing that reports of Russian interference in the election were ignored and that her campaign was plagued by sexism.

While Clinton has been largely reclusive since her November loss to President Trump, she has begun to make more public statements on her defeat, including an interview in New York magazine. She also gave the commencement address at her alma mater, Wellesley College, last week and criticized Trump’s leadership.

Clinton continued that trend with this week’s appearance at the Code Conference in San Francisco, discussing the current political environment with Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg. In the discussion, she hit out at former FBI Director James Comey and media members, who she said targeted her own scandals at the expense of potential Russian interference in the campaign.

“Comey was more than happy to talk about my emails, but he wouldn’t talk about investigation of the Russians,” Clinton said.

She added that Russian operatives would have had difficulty affecting the election outcome unless “they had been guided by Americans.”

During the campaign, Comey announced in the summer of 2016 that he would not recommend charges against Clinton or her top aides after investigating their use of a private email server for State Department business. In his public remarks at the time, Comey boosted GOP arguments against Clinton by calling her email setup “extremely careless.”

But in an eleventh-hour announcement, Comey said in late October that he was looking at additional emails, only to return to his initial stance of no charges on the eve of the election. Both Clinton and many of her supporters in part blame Comey for her loss. (Comey recently said he also tried to write a public statement in August addressing Russian election interference, but the offer was rejected by the Obama administration.)

FBI Director James Comey testifies before the House Oversight Committee about Hillary Clinton’s email investigation in July 2016. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

In her Wednesday remarks, Clinton argued that the email scandal was vastly overblown.

“The overriding issue that affected the election that I had any control over — because I had no control over the Russians — was the way the use of my email account was turned into the greatest scandal since Lord knows when,” Clinton said. “This was the biggest ‘nothing burger’ ever.”

Clinton also said that another scandal — paid speeches she gave to large banks and investment firms — was also a nonissue.

“Why do you have Goldman Sachs here,” Clinton asked the moderators.

“Because they paid us,” Swisher responded.

“They paid me too,” Clinton noted.

Clinton suggested that criticism stemming from the speeches was driven by sexism, a subject she returned to later.

“I never said I was a perfect candidate and I never said I ran perfect campaigns,” Clinton said. “But I don’t know who is or did. And at some point it sort of bleeds over into misogyny. … People who have a set of expectations about who should be president and what a president looks like, they’re going to be much more skeptical or critical of someone who doesn’t look like or talk like or sound like everyone else who has been president.”

Clinton even weighed in on Wednesday’s controversy du jour: Trump’s botched tweet discussing his “negative press convfefe.”

“I thought it was a hidden message to the Russians,” Clinton said, laughing.

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