A longtime Washington insider argues that former FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress, sent just before the presidential election in 2016 was a key determining factor in Trump’s win: “Compelling criticism…lapsed Trump supporters might well open their minds to this attorney’s scholarly, entirely convincing proof of the damage done” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
During the week of October 24, 2016, Hillary Clinton was decisively ahead of Donald Trump in many polls and, more importantly, in the battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Then FBI Director James Comey sent his infamous letter to Congress on October 28, saying the bureau was investigating additional emails that may have been relevant to the Hillary Clinton email case. In The Unmaking of the President 2016, attorney Lanny J. Davis shows how Comey’s misguided announcement—just eleven days before the election—swung a significant number of voters away from Clinton, winning Trump an Electoral College victory—and the presidency.
Davis traces Clinton’s email controversy and Comey’s July 2016 appearance before Congress, in which he said the Clinton email matter was effectively closed. From that moment until Comey’s late October letter to Congress, Davis says, Clinton was destined to be elected president by substantial popular and electoral vote margins. But the decision to send his October 28 letter, so near to the election, not only violated long-standing justice department policies but also contained no new facts of improper emails at all—just pure speculation. Davis shows state by state, using polling data before October 28, and on election day, how voter support for Hillary Clinton eroded quickly. He proves that had the election been held on October 27, Hillary Clinton would have won the presidency by a substantial margin.
Despite so many other issues in the closing days of the campaign—Trump’s behavior, the Russian hacking, reports of Clinton momentum in marginal states such as Georgia, Arizona, even Texas—after the October 28 Comey letter, everything changed. References to “Clinton emails” and “new criminal investigation” dominated media coverage virtually round-the-clock through election day November 8. Now Davis proves with raw, indisputable data how Comey’s October surprise cost Hillary Clinton the presidency and changed American history in the blink of an eye.
Lanny J. Davis is a lawyer who counsels individuals, corporations, and others on crisis management and legal issues. He served as special counsel to President Bill Clinton and was a spokesperson for the president and the White House on matters concerning campaign finance investigations and other legal issues. In 2005 President George W. Bush appointed Davis to serve on the five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, created by the U.S. Congress as part of the 2005 Intelligence Reform Act. He graduated from Yale Law School, where he won the prestigious Thurman Arnold Moot Court prize and served on the Yale Law Journal. He is the author of The Unmaking of the President 2016.
“Compelling criticism…surprisingly calming…Lapsed Trump supporters might well open their minds to this attorney's scholarly, entirely convincing proof of the damage done.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Anyone who cares about understanding the most startling election in US history must confront the analysis and evidence so skillfully deployed by Lanny Davis. Whether you're a Trump True Believer, or a Hillary Diehard, you'll never come to terms with the amazements and outrages of the 2016 campaign until you've confronted this indispensable book. Many readers will disagree with some of its explosive conclusions (as I did), but no one can disregard all of them.” —Michael Medved, nationally syndicated conservative talk show host, bestselling author, member of Board of Contributors for USA Today
“Lanny Davis details the full, horrifying story of how one man’s decisions to violate policy and common sense helped to upend an election and, as a consequence, change the course of American history. One of our keenest political observers, Davis lays out a meticulous case against James Comey, the former director of the FBI, whose repeated and unprecedented interference in the 2016 election transformed what is supposed to be a politically silent government post into that of a virtual third candidate…Davis’s book is at once disturbing, fascinating and informative. It is a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of democracy.” —Kurt Eichenwald, Contributing Editor, Vanity Fair and bestselling author
“Everybody wants to know how Hillary Clinton lost the election to Donald Trump. Lanny Davis has the answer, and it’s indisputable: the blame lies squarely on then-FBI Director James Comey and his ill-considered, ill-fated, and lethal letter of October 28. Lanny Davis and Donald Trump agree on one thing: James Comey should have been fired. The difference, as Davis proves conclusively, is that Comey should have been fired by President Obama for violating rules of the Justice Department, interfering in a presidential election, and throwing the election to Donald Trump.” —Bill Press, former moderator of CNN’s Crossfire, nationally syndicated columnist and progressive Democrat TV/radio talk show host