Following the latest indictment handed down by Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, some analysts now think Russian operatives might have had a better understanding of the U.S. election process than Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
The latest development from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election included indictments against 13 individuals and three entities within the former Soviet Union.
With details from those documents indicating Russian operatives seemed to focus on swing states in their attempt to impact the election, CBS News’ Nancy Cordes pressed Clinton’s former campaign chairman regarding why the former secretary of state did not use the same tactics.
“It does beg the question: How is it that these Russian operatives knew to focus on purple states like Michigan and Wisconsin and your campaign didn’t?” she asked John Podesta on Sunday’s installment of “Face the Nation.”
Podesta shot back, insisting the Clinton campaign “spent a lot of time and energy and effort in all those states.”
Cordes clarified her point, putting the emphasis on appearances by the nominee rather than the campaign as a whole.
“Hillary Clinton herself did not spend much time,” she said.
The political consultant, who also served as former President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff and counselor to former President Barack Obama, argued that other top Democrats spent significant time in states that turned out to be the deciding force in the 2016 election.
“We had (Clinton running mate) Tim Kaine was there, Barack Obama was in,” he said. Focusing on other important swing states, Podesta added that Clinton “spent enormous time in Pennsylvania and Michigan.”
As far as staff in some of these states, he added that the size compared favorably to prior Democrat presidential campaigns.
“We spent a lot of effort,” he said. “We had more staff in Wisconsin that even President Obama had in 2012.”
In the end, he acknowledged that the campaign “focused on the places we thought that were in contest,” but that “at the end of the day we fell short in those states.”
He stuck to familiar talking points when he suggested external forces might have had enough influence to make the ultimate difference.
“Efforts by the Russians could have tilted the election in Donald Trump’s favor,” he said.
Clinton was widely criticized in the wake of the 2016 election by pundits who felt she sealed her own fate by avoiding certain states.
She addressed the controversy in a memoir published last year.
“If just 40,000 people across Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania had changed their minds, I would have won,” she wrote. “With a margin like that, everyone can have a pet theory about why I lost. It’s difficult to rule anything out.”
Clinton also referred to a popular argument among Democrats, writing that “every theory needs to be tested against the evidence that (she) was winning until October 28, when (then-FBI Director) Jim Comey injected emails back into the election.”
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