President Trump fired back at Hillary Clinton late Tuesday night, calling her excuse for losing the election “phony” and saying she should be grateful to FBI Director James B. Comey for not being harsher on her.
Earlier in the day Mrs. Clinton returned to the public stage, saying she was on track to win the election until Mr. Comey’s last-minute announcement that he was reopening a probe into her secret email account.
Mr. Trump, though, said Mr. Comey had actually gone easy on Mrs. Clinton during the campaign.
“FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!” the president tweeted at about 11 p.m. “The phony Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?”
The president struck a similar theme in an interview last week with The Washington Times, saying that Democrats have a built-in advantage in the Electoral College, so when he won they crafted explanations.
Mr. Trump said last year that he would have put Mrs. Clinton in jail for her email transgressions, which included sending top secret information from a personal account kept on a server at her home in New York, rather than through the secure State Department system. Mr. Comey last July cleared Mrs. Clinton of criminal wrongdoing, saying she was too inept to understand the risks she was running with national security.
Mr. Trump has had a curious relationship with Mr. Comey, blasting his work at times, and praising him other times.
The FBI is currently probing the conduct of Mr. Trump’s campaign associates, investigating whether they had illegal contact with Russia.