Hillary Clinton has blamed the FBI's decision to revive an investigation into her email accounts for her devastating defeat in the US presidential election.
In a call on Saturday with top campaign donors, Clinton said her campaign was in the lead until FBI director James Comey sent a letter to Congress on October 28 announcing that the FBI had uncovered emails possibly related to its earlier investigation into her use of a private server as secretary of state.
The new examination was sparked by an unrelated investigation into former New York Representative Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of one of her top aides.
The surprise announcement by the FBI came after three debates in which president-elect Donald Trump, a Republican, was widely panned for his performance. Clinton told the donors that her campaign was leading by large margins in nearly every battleground state and was tied in Arizona, a traditionally Republican stronghold, until Comey released his letter.
Trump's campaign and Republican supporters seized on the news, even though it was unclear whether Clinton's correspondence was tied up in the probe.
Comey told politicians the Sunday before the election that the bureau had found no evidence to warrant criminal charges. His "all clear" message only served to further motivate Trump supporters, Clinton told donors on the call.
In the nine days between Comey's initial statement and his "all clear" announcement, nearly 24 million people cast early ballots. That was roughly 18 percent of the expected total votes for president.
While Clinton accepted some blame of her loss, said donors who listened to her call, she made little mention of the many other factors political analysts saw as driving Trump's victory.
Clinton told her supporters on Saturday that her team had drafted a memo that looked at the changing opinion polls leading up to the election and that the letter from Comey proved to be a turning point.
The memo prepared by Clinton's campaign, a copy of which was seen by the Reuters news agency, said voters who decided which candidate to support in the last week were more likely to support Trump than Clinton.
"In the end, late breaking developments in the race proved one hurdle too many for us to overcome," the memo concluded.
A spokesperson for the FBI could not immediately be reached for comment.
Democrats have spent much of this week reeling for their loss, with many in the party beginning a process of soul-searching designed to figure out what exactly went wrong. Liberals such as Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren say Democrats must embrace a more aggressive economic message - one Clinton largely shied away from during her campaign.
Source: News Agencies