GOP consultant Michael Caputo on James Comey, Clinton’s emails and Trump’s chances

Michael Caputo
Michael Caputo

Michael Caputo, a political consultant and former adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, has been watching the presidential race closely. With election day looming, City & State chatted with the Buffalo-based observer about his former boss’s chances in New York, the scandal surrounding Hillary Clinton’s email and the outlook for the general election.

C&S: One recent poll paid for by the Trump campaign had him 12 points behind Hillary Clinton in New York. Does Trump have a chance at an upset win in his home state?

MC: I don’t know that it’s possible for Donald Trump to take New York, but I do think it’s very possible that he’ll do better here than any Republican nominee has done in decades. That speaks to the frustration of the electorate more than anything else. In the state of New York, you would think that Hillary Clinton would be doing a lot better as the former U.S. senator from New York state. She’s polling out worse than past candidates who barely even set foot here. The reason why New York is probably not a victory in the making is there’s been no investment here. There’s been no strategy implemented. There’s virtually no effort from the national campaign and the RNC.

C&S: Some Republicans applauded FBI Director James Comey for updating Congress on the criminal probe into Clinton’s private email servers after new evidence was uncovered in a separate investigation into the actions of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who is married to Clinton adviser Huma Abedin. But others say Comey broke protocol and may influence the election results by releasing that information so close to the election without any clear evidence of wrongdoing. Did he do the right thing?

MC: Comey was put into a very bad spot by one thing: Bill Clinton on the tarmac meeting with Attorney General Lynch. From that moment forward Director Comey was doomed, because Lynch impugned her own credibility, exposed what appears now to be DOJ intransigence on the investigation into Clinton’s foundation emails. She can no longer go before the press. She can no longer go before the nation. She was not a credible voice. All we have left is Comey. When he found out from his refers at the FBI at the situation had fundamentally changed he was faced with two choices: make an announcement and perhaps affect the election or make no announcement and perhaps affect the election. There’s a longstanding tradition or policy at the DOJ not to do anything that would affect the democratic elections. But, there is also a longstanding tradition at the DOJ to cover up for Hillary Clinton. We now have the most politicized Department of Justice. I think Comey rejected the advice of Barack Obama’s political appointees because he knows their tradition for covering for the Clintons.

C&S: While many polls have the race too close to call, Trump will have to take a number of key states to become president. How are his prospects?

MC: Even though he has pulled even or ahead in national polls and even though Hillary Clinton’s campaign is burning down, the Trump campaign still faces significant challenges in battleground states, challenges that have been exacerbated by being outspent by the Clinton forces. There is very little time left to fix that, but I think they are doing a solid job. Donald Trump’s path to the presidency got significantly wider when Americans were reminded that Hillary Clinton has been under an FBI criminal investigation. If this thing is close and Donald Trump loses, it’ll be the fault of the “Never Trump” operatives that the Republican Party is in Siberia and they will pay. They’re the most nervous cats out there today.