Barack Obama 'told Hillary Clinton to concede' on election night

The revelation is contained in a forthcoming account of the Democrat's defeat

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Monday 28 November 2016 14:42
Hillary Clinton urges supporters to give Donald Trump a chance to lead

The chaos - and sheer bewilderment - within Hillary Clinton’s camp on election night was on public display. Even as losses in vital states such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania trickled in, the campaign refused to admit defeat.

“They’re still counting votes and every vote should count. Several states are too close to call, so we’re not gonna have anything more to say tonight,” campaign chairman John Podesta told supporters. Yet shortly afterwards, Ms Clinton called her rival Donald Trump to concede.

The trigger for that move, according to a new report, was a call to Ms Clinton from President Barack Obama. “You need to concede,” Mr Obama told his former secretary of state.

Shortly afterwards, sitting in a room at the Peninsula Hotel in New York, she picked picked up the phone to call the man with whom she had been engaged in probably the ugliest presidential fight in modern US history.

The details are contained forthcoming book on Ms Clinton’s defeat and revealed on Monday by The Hill. The book by Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen, cites three sources from the Clinton camp who were familiar with the way the election night defeat played out.

The report said that Mr Obama’s call left a bad taste in the mouths of some Ms Clinton’s supporters, who thought she should have clung on.

Clinton campaign not admitting defeat

“There was a lot of discussion about Michigan and Wisconsin and whether the numbers could flip it,” said one of the sources.

Yet after receiving Mr Obama’s call, Ms Clinton decided to take the momentous decision to aknowledge the loss, and call Mr Trump.

“Just give me the phone,” she reportedly said. “I’m calling him.”

There was apparently also disagreement between Ms Clinton’s camp and the White House on whether to support a ballot recount effort launched by Green Party leader Jill Stein.

On Saturday, Ms Clinton’s campaign confirmed that it was supporting the effort to recount some votes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Ms Stein officially filed a recount request in Wisconsin on Friday afternoon, and her campaign has said she hopes to also push through recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania. The Wisconsin Elections Commission said it has a December 13 deadline to complete the recount of more than 2.9m votes.

Writing on Medium, the Clinton campaign’s chief legal advisor, Marc Elias, said a decision had been taken to participate even though it had found no evidence itself of any hacking of the voting systems in any of the states, as some have suggested.

“Because we had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology, we had not planned to exercise this option ourselves, but now that a recount has been initiated in Wisconsin, we intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides,” he wrote.

Mr Trump has denounced the recount effort and accused Ms Clinton, who beat him in the popular vote by more than two million votes, of hypocrisy. Early on Sunday, he took to Twitter, to repeat his condemnation of the move.

“Hilary Clinton conceded the election when she called me just prior to the victory speech and after the results were in,” he wrote. “Nothing will change.”

Later, Mr Trump said - without providing any evidence - that he would have won the popular vote as well, but for the “millions of people had voted illegally in the election”.

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