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Former President Bill Clinton blames Russians, FBI for his wife's loss

Karen DeWitt
Former President Bill Clinton was the first elector in Albany to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton.

New York members of the Electoral College met Monday in the Senate chamber at the State Capitol to cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton.

First among them was former President Bill Clinton, who blamed the FBI and the Russians for his wife’s defeat in the presidential race.

The former president voted for his spouse, Hillary Clinton, as did Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and other elected officials and politically connected Democrats from around the state, for a total of 29 votes.

Afterward, Clinton said it was the “proudest” vote he ever cast. And he said the unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate was undone by events late in the campaign, even after she overcame what Clinton said were “bogus” charges about her emails.

“In the end, we had the Russians and the FBI deal, which she couldn’t prevail against that,” Clinton told reporters after the vote. “She did everything else and still won by 2.8 million votes.”

The CIA and FBI say the Russians meddled in the elections by hacking Democratic National Committee emails and other files to help President-elect Donald Trump in the campaign. In late October, FBI Director James Comey said he might reopen the case on Hillary Clinton’s emails. He did not fully clear her until three days before the elections.

Cuomo, who worked under former President Clinton as HUD secretary, delivered a kind of eulogy for the Clintons as he presided over the event in the Senate chamber, which included a choral group from Albany High School who sang “God Bless America.”

Cuomo said Hillary Clinton has been a “great friend” to New York, and has accomplished “tremendous good,” citing her efforts to get federal funds after 9/11 when she was a U.S. senator from New York, and helping capture Osama bin Laden when she served as secretary of state under President Barack Obama.

Afterward, Cuomo said the moment was “bittersweet” and that it could not have been easy for the former president.

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said she also found the day painful. But Stewart-Cousins, the first female legislative leader in New York, said she expects to see a female president in her lifetime.

“There are still tremendous glass ceilings to break,” Stewart-Cousins said. “But we will break those ceilings, there’s no question about it.”

Stewart-Cousins, who is African-American, said many people, even in her own family, never thought they’d see a black president, yet Obama was elected in 2008.

In a final gesture that seemed aimed at the person who won the election, the electors announced that they were donating their fees for the day to the New York Immigration Coalition.


Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.