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Greenwald: Hillary is to Blame for Losing 2016 Election, Not James Comey

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Last week, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton claimed that FBI Director James Comey and alleged Russian hacking cost her the U.S. election, saying, “I was on the way to winning, until a combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28th and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off. If the election had been on October 27th, I’d be your president.” But does that claim reflect what actually happened in the 2016 election? For more, we speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, former Democratic presidential candidate—as you mentioned, both Democrats and Republicans are not terribly fond of Comey—Hillary Clinton claimed that FBI Director Comey and Russian hacking cost her the U.S. election, during an interview last week.

HILLARY CLINTON: I was on the way to winning, until a combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28th and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off. If the election had been on October 27th, I’d be your president.

AMY GOODMAN: So that’s former Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton speaking last week. Glenn, your comments?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, the election was not on October 27th. The election was in November. And I think that one of the important points to underscore about what she said there—and you could do a whole show just on that little snippet, and I’d probably be overjoyed to do it. But just to focus on one point about it, it isn’t just that the Democrats lost this election, despite outspending Donald Trump two to one, despite facing the most unpopular political candidate in history, somebody who broke every norm. The Democrats, across the board—and I think this is so important when we think about how to oppose Donald Trump—have collapsed as a political force in the United States. They’re the minority in the House and Congress. They have lost huge numbers of governorships in statehouses under President Obama. Obama was a successful president, but the Democratic Party underneath him has completely collapsed.

And you would think and hope that when we think about how to stop this movement of white nationalism and extreme nationalism, that we think about how to fix the Democratic Party, how to fix the problems with its messaging and its inability to reach voters and the perception that it only serves the interest of corporate donors. So when you have Hillary Clinton constantly shifting the focus and blaming everything else and everyone else besides herself and her own party for this defeat, I think it’s incredibly counterproductive to the principal task that lies in front of all of us, which is to figure how we’re going to construct a viable alternative to the political movement in the United States that is ascendant right now.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you have, Glenn, this remarkable chronology. You have the Comey speech in July, that President Trump hailed at the time right through the election—well, he hailed the fact that Comey was investigating Hillary Clinton. He doesn’t fire him when he comes into office. AG Sessions recuses himself from any investigations, being involved in any investigations to do with Trump and Russia. And then you have the firing, which Sessions also pushes. At this point, the question, among them, is: Who will Donald Trump replace James Comey with? James Comey is supposed to testify tomorrow in Congress. Could he still testify? Do you think that this is equivalent to or the beginning of a new Watergate? You had Nixon who fired the special prosecutor, not the FBI director, but it’s extremely significant.

GLENN GREENWALD: Extremely significant. I mean, there are parallels, certainly, that you can draw with the Saturday Night Massacre, when Nixon ordered the firing of the special prosecutor. It was a little bit different there, because it was an actual special prosecutor focused exclusively on those Watergate investigations. And remember, Watergate did not really become a first-rate political scandal that threatened the [Nixon] administration until there started emerging evidence of actual wrongdoing, of underlying criminality, which, to this day, I think it’s important to note, we still don’t have.

AMY GOODMAN: And remember, that Nixon re-election, he won by a landslide.

GLENN GREENWALD: And Watergate really was not a significant issue in the outcome of the voting for exactly that reason, which is, people hadn’t seen evidence of the underlying criminality. We do not yet have evidence—and it may not exist, or it might exist—that the Trump campaign, meaning not Carter Page but people high up in the Trump campaign, colluded with the Russians to hack into the DNC or John Podesta’s email. James Clapper, Obama’s national security official, has said he’s never seen any such evidence during his time in government. Dianne Feinstein just last week on CNN, after she got back from a CIA briefing, was asked by Wolf Blitzer if she is aware of any such evidence, and she said she isn’t. And so—

AMY GOODMAN: But Clapper also said he wasn’t aware that the FBI was investigating the Trump administration.

GLENN GREENWALD: Right, but he’s still the national security official and has said, “You would think, if there were intercepts, if there were sensitive national security information showing it.” So it’s not dispositive, you’re absolutely right. It’s just that, as the public, we haven’t yet seen that evidence. And that’s the evidence that we need to see for, I think, this to really escalate into a scandal that threatens the Trump presidency. But, obviously, the firing of Comey raises the specter that he must perceive something significant at stake in order to fire Comey. Maybe he just wanted a loyalist in the FBI. Maybe he just doesn’t like Comey. That is the kind of impetuous decision-making Trump is known for. But it certainly seems like this was a concerted effort to remove Jim Comey. Knowing it would create a political scandal, there must be a good reason for that.

AMY GOODMAN: So, we’re going to break, but when we come back, you talked about—well, who could he choose? I mean, names are being floated, like the former mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, like the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, and others. Glenn Greenwald is with us, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, founding editor of The Intercept. We’ll be back in a minute.

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