Sidney Blumenthal: Donald Trump won the election as a result of an FBI ‘coup d’état’

Sidney Blumenthal, former aide to President Bill Clinton and long-time confidant to Hillary Clinton, was interviewed on Friday on Nieuwsuur (News Hour) which is broadcast on Dutch public television. The introduction is in Dutch but the interview itself is in English.

Blumenthal says the decisive intervention in the election by FBI Director James Comey “was the result of a cabal of right-wing agents of the FBI in the New York office attached to Rudy Giuliani who was a member of Trump’s campaign and I think it’s not unfair to call it a ‘coup’.”


“Trump has positioned himself to be Vladimir Putin’s junior partner… His policy is consistently pro-Putin and I think that we will see, if his rhetoric is made into reality, that American foreign policy since the end of World War Two will be overthrown.”

The New York Times reports: Hillary Clinton on Saturday cast blame for her surprise election loss on the announcement by the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, days before the election that he had revived the inquiry into her use of a private email server.

In her most extensive remarks since she conceded the race to Donald J. Trump early Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton told donors on a 30-minute conference call that Mr. Comey’s decision to send a letter to Congress about the inquiry 11 days before Election Day had thrust the controversy back into the news and had prevented her from ending the campaign with an optimistic closing argument.

“There are lots of reasons why an election like this is not successful,” Mrs. Clinton said, according to a donor who relayed the remarks. But, she added, “our analysis is that Comey’s letter raising doubts that were groundless, baseless, proven to be, stopped our momentum.” [Continue reading…]

Suppose the Clinton campaign had stayed on track and there had been no FBI intervention. It seems much more likely than not, that Clinton would have won.

That campaign would now be a subject of analysis in which pundits were describing the keys to its success, alongside the reasons Trump had failed.

In other words, it’s easy to picture two versions of the Clinton campaign that are virtually identical, the only significant difference being on whether the FBI had stepped in.

Even though it’s reasonable to point out that the FBI would never have got involved in the first place had it not been for Clinton’s ill-judged decision to set up a private email server, that mistake itself didn’t appear to be an obstacle to her election until the FBI willfully reawakened it as a campaign issue.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 thoughts on “Sidney Blumenthal: Donald Trump won the election as a result of an FBI ‘coup d’état’

  1. hquain

    In centrist imagining (cf. Josh Marshall), Comey’s act was a ‘blunder’ because he is a ‘good man’. Somehow this ‘blunder’ was timed perfectly to take away the last M-F work week of campaigning and both adjoining weekends, leaving no time for the kerfuffle to settle and fade. And somehow both letters managed to strike a vaguely accusatory tone, despite the release of not one solid fact in either. As you’ve pointed out, similar remarks can be made about the timing Comey’s first intervention in July.

    Nevertheless, a heroic narrative is solidifying about a ‘populist revolt’ that swept Trump to power. A more plausible interpretation is that the same people who voted R then have voted R now. When asked, they say the things they’ve heard their leaders say.

    Trump got roughly the same number of votes as Romney. Turnout on the D side was depressed; Hillary’s lackluster persona had an effect, but it took more than that to beat her. Somehow the narrative has not yet connected this with vigorous, highly public voter suppression efforts, which have to account for some of it — and not much was needed to get Trump the key states. Take that with Comey’s successful assault and you may have all the proximate causes you need to explain the outcome.

    It seems likely that we’re witnessing an overwrought fictionalization of some rather mundane electoral realities. Of course this doesn’t mean that the Trump administration will be mundane, or that it will not pick the country clean in short order. But it’s worth trying to understand how it managed to work the system.

  2. Paul Woodward Post author

    I think the reason this narrative of a populist revolt has taken hold is because public and press alike view an election as though it was some kind of act of divination.

    It’s as though all the efforts to measure public mood prior to election day are inherently flawed (rather than simply being of varying accuracy) and the only true reading comes on that day.

    Instead of seeing election day for what it is — a comprehensive measure of mood on that day — it’s treated as a kind of distillation of everything that preceded it.

    This then leads to the sense that Trump’s election was written in America’s destiny. Trump’s victory then becomes seemingly inevitable, while Clinton’s victory was supposedly always impossible.

    On the surface, rational analysis might continue, yet beneath this there’s a stronger sentiment that Trump represents fate.

Comments are closed.