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Bill Clinton blames Russians, FBI for assisting in wife's defeat

ALBANY – Showing the loss of his wife’s campaign still stings, former President Bill Clinton Monday afternoon lashed out at “Russians and the FBI” for contributing to the defeat of Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump.

After casting his vote as one of 29 members of the New York electoral college, Clinton briefly spoke with reporters as he headed out of the state Capitol.

Asked if it was a bittersweet day for him, Clinton said, “Yeah, but I never cast a vote I was prouder of.’’

Clinton said he watched “her work for two years” to try to win the White House. “I watched her battle through that bogus email deal,’’ Clinton said.

He added, “Then at the end, we had the Russians, the FBI deal, which she couldn’t prevail against that,’’ the former president said of his wife.

Clinton then invoked Nate Silver, the statistician who analyzes elections and sports. Silver said the late October letter from FBI Director James Comey influenced the presidential outcome; he has written that Clinton would have won had the election been held in October.

“The finest vote counter in America is Nate Silver. He told you what cost her the election,’’ Clinton said.

Clinton’s remarks put an exclamation mark on an otherwise procedural gathering of the New York electoral college. All 29 of New York’s electors cast their votes, as expected, for Hillary Clinton. The former president, a resident of New York, cast the first vote. He did not speak during the 50-minute gathering, saving his comments about reported computer hacking by Russia and the FBI’s end-of-campaign reopening of questions about Hillary Clinton’s emails until after the voting was done.

Applaud and celebrate as they did during the gathering, the New York delegates’ votes came on the day states across the nation were meeting in their own electoral college proceedings, which formally elected Trump as the 45th U.S. president.

Clinton was first to rise from his seat in the ornate, H.H. Richardson-designed State Senate chamber to deposit two pieces of paper into two wooden boxes casting his vote for president and vice president. He then worked his way below the rostrum signing documents to make the vote official.

Given the outcome of the state’s vote in November, in which Clinton captured 59 percent of the vote, the 58th meeting of the New York electoral college had little drama. It came, though, on a day New York Democrats believed, in the weeks leading up to the election, that they would have been heading to Albany to elect Hillary Clinton.

The gathering was highly scripted to meet the legal requirements of electors casting their votes for president and vice president. Mundane details – from approving that the proceeding’s record be bound and printed and the repositories where those records would be sent – were the order of the day.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke for five minutes in tribute to Bill Clinton, who hired Cuomo as federal housing secretary during his presidential administration, and Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and ex-U.S. Senator from New York.

“We’re honored to call you a friend and we’re honored that you call New York home,’’ Cuomo said to Clinton.

After the meeting, Cuomo told reporters that Clinton had been “very gracious” on a day that had to be “a personally difficult position” for the former president.

Cuomo served as president of the proceedings. It was noteworthy, to anyone who calls themselves an Albany observer, that Cuomo stood at the rostrum of the Senate – a chamber where Democrats have been calling upon the governor to unite Democrats in the Senate to force a takeover from Republicans. Democrats have a 32-31 edge over Republicans after the November elections, but at least one Democrat – and possibly a half-dozen more in the coming weeks – is keeping an alliance going to help keep the GOP in control.

The electors included a number of Democratic elected officials, including state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. Local officials casting votes included Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. The cast of players also included a number of Democrats with whom Cuomo has been openly battling, including DiNapoli, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner.

Four of the 29 delegates, including Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, did not attend and were represented by alternate electors.

Heastie expressed the mood of many of electors, all Democrats, who gathered in Albany. "We were all supporters of Secretary Clinton. We're all disappointed. It wasn't the most jovial of times,'' Heastie said of the gathering.

Dan Clark of the News Albany Bureau contributed to this report.

email: tprecious@buffnews.com

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