WASHINGTON : At last Hillary Clinton is “out of the woods”, smugly telling Americans that had election been held 12 days earlier, “I would be your President” and not that brash billionaire Donald Trump.
She took “absolute personal responsibility” for her stunning loss to the political novice even as she claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin, FBI director James Comey and misogyny stole the election from her.
She was cruising to a victory before WikiLeaks started making embarrassing disclosures from her campaign chief’s emails hacked by Putin’s spooks and Comey reopened a probe into her own email saga, Clinton suggested.
But the former Secretary of State did not say why she did not campaign in the battleground states of Wisconsin and Michigan or woo Trump supporters whom she dismissed as a “basket of deplorables.”
She also did not say why she used a “f—ing insane” private server, as a top desi aide Neera Tanden called it, as President Barack Obama’s top diplomat that led to the FBI probe in the first place.
Nor would she say why in the midst of the investigation hubby Bill by “chance” went over to Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s plane last July to say hello and “chat about their grandkids” and golf.
That meeting was “the capper” for Comey, as he would tell senators a day after Clinton’s charge, when he decided that the Justice “department cannot, by itself, credibly end this”.
It was then that he publicly rebuked her for being “extremely careless” in guarding the nation’s secrets and yet letting her go scot free saying “no reasonable prosecutor” would charge her.
But Comey also told the Republican-controlled Congress that he would not hesitate to reopen the probe if and when new material turned up.
And so there was the “October surprise” just 11 days before the November 8 election when his team found thousands of “classified” Clinton e-mails on the computer of her trusted aide Huma Abedin’s husband, Anthony Weiner.
Clinton’s desi “second daughter” appears “to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails” to Weiner, under investigation for a sexting scandal, for taking out printouts for her boss, as Comey would later tell senators.
Faced with a bad or catastrophic decision to speak or conceal, he chose the former, Comey asserted, saying “concealment, in my view, would have been catastrophic” and “death of FBI”.
“It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election,” he testified. “But honestly, it wouldn’t change the decision.”
But the top cop, who has been retained in his job by Trump, also declined “to say another peep” about an investigation into Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia “until we’re done”.
“That’s the way we handled the Clinton investigation, as well,” Comey claimed, dismissing Democrats’ charge of using double standards for the two presidential rivals.
Trump himself brushed aside Clinton’s claim with a tweet: “Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!”
“The phony Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election,” he asserted, “Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?”
Trump might have already hit the nail on the head when he thanked the Abedins when Comey’s October surprise suddenly lifted his stock. “Good job Huma, thank you Weiner,” he then tweeted.
The President then returned to his favourite pastime of undoing the Obama legacy with his first major legislative victory with the House passing a bill to repeal and replace his predecessor’s “disastrous” signature healthcare law dubbed “Obamacare”.
Using “The Art of the Deal”, he also won Congressional approval for a $1.1 trillion budget to keep the government going until end-September by foregoing funds for that “big beautiful wall” on the border with Mexico.
Pundits dismissed his “Trumpcare” victory as “pyrrhic” suggesting the Republicans would pay a high political price as some House Democrats waved them farewell with a pop song: “Na na na na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye.”
But a victory may remain a distant dream for the Democrats until they can say “Na na na na” to Clinton who has now styled herself “part of the resistance”.
(With Inputs from IANS)