Joel Benenson Blames Comey for Clinton Defectors

Hillary Clinton's former chief strategist Joel Benenson appeared Friday morning on CNN with host John Berman where he blamed FBI Director James Comey for voters defecting away from Clinton in the final days of the presidential campaign.

After previously recommending in July that no criminal charges be brought against Clinton for her private email server, Comey sent a letter to Congress on Oct. 28 informing them that the FBI was reopening the case after learning about the existence of emails that appeared to be pertinent to the case.

The emails were discovered during an unrelated FBI investigation into disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner (D., N.Y.), who was being investigated for allegedly exchanging sexually explicit text messages with an underage girl. Weiner recently separated from top Clinton aide Huma Abedin as a result of the sexting incident.

Berman asked Benenson whether he thought Comey was a decisive factor in Clinton losing to President-elect Donald Trump.

"I think Comey made a difference. We always knew there were third-party voters because we always asked head-to-head race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump first. We always know there were a group of Trump defectors and Hillary defectors we called them. People who went from our vote in the two-way to third-party voters in the four-way race," Benenson said.

Benenson said that after the third and final presidential debate, the campaign thought it was consolidating and that they had a comfortable lead over Trump.

"What we saw after Comey's first statement on that Friday was our defectors drifted right back to third-party candidates. We were not able to get them back in the last 11 days and I think it was a significant factor," Benenson said.