Fighting Talk

Hillary Clinton Denounces Trump ‘Hurting So Many People,’ and Putin for Election Meddling

In her first major interview since the election, Hillary Clinton said she wants an independent Russia probe and that seeing Trumpcare fail was ‘gratifying.’

“As a person, I’m OK. As an American, I’m pretty worried,” Hillary Clinton said on Thursday in regards to the nascent Trump presidency.

At the Women in the World conference in New York City, Clinton said she did not understand Trump pursuing an apparent “commitment to hurt so many people.”

Blaming Russian president Vladimir Putin directly for meddling in the presidential election, Clinton said she favored “an independent, non-partisan investigation” into what had occurred. “If we don’t take action together to hold whoever it was accountable, they will be back again.”

Clinton also said FBI director James Comey’s decision to reopen investigations into her emails, and WikiLeaks, had had “a determinative effect” in her election loss.

“I do admit it was somewhat gratifying,” she said of the failure of TrumpCare to pass.

Clinton also voiced her support for “taking out” Syria’s air force, after a chemical attack killed more than 70 people in the country.

As part of her introduction to Clinton’s first major interview since losing the 2016 presidential election, the comedian and TV host Samantha Bee said to an as-yet-unseen Clinton, “It should have been you.”

The loud applause that greeted that pronouncement was nothing compared to the roar and standing ovation that greeted Clinton herself, as she took a seat opposite her interviewer, the journalist Nicholas Kristof.

See the full interview here.

Accepting “there are certainly enough condolences to go around” over her loss, Clinton said, in reference to the turmoil of the Trump presidency: “I hope we will be able to move on to positive developments in our country, but that’s going to take some time apparently.”

Asked how she was, she said, “You know what? I am doing pretty well, all things considered,” although “the aftermath of the election was so devastating. Everything that has come to light in the days and weeks since has been so troubling.”

She had been, she said, yes, going for long walks in the woods and spending time with her grandchildren and friends.

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On Comey’s decision to reopen an investigation into Clinton’s emails ten days before the election, only to close it eight days later, Clinton said drily, “Yes that was one of the high points. I am obviously concerned what went on with Russia. {We need to] start acting like patriotic Americans because a foreign power meddled with our election. We’re learning more about it every single day.”

The Russian hacking, Clinton said, “should give chills to anyone who cares about democracy. What was done to us was an act of aggression by foreign power” with the aim of damaging Europe and sending America “into a tailspin. And what Putin wanted to do was sow distrust and confusion as well as influence our election.” The Russian hackings appeared to be a “more effective theft even than Watergate,” Clinton added.

She said she favored “an independent, non-partisan investigation. If we don’t take action together to hold whoever it was accountable, they will be back again.”

Putin was, Clinton said, “somebody who plays the long game. He plays 3-dimensional chess. He is always trying to figure out how to advance himself, his oligarchic companions, and in his country in that order. He’s very much focused on the destabilization of Europe, Nato, the United States…democracies, real democracies.” She added, “He’s not exactly fond of strong women, although he did shake hands with me.”

Putin’s claim that Clinton had caused demonstrations to be held against him was “absurd,” Clinton added. The Russians demonstrating were merely doing so in favor of democracy, she said.

Asked about the 53 per cent of white women who had voted for Donald Trump, Clinton revealed she was writing a book “where I spend a lot of time wrestling with this. As you might guess, I have thought about it more than once. It is fair to say misogyny played a role. Why and what the underlining reasons were, I am trying to parse out for myself.

“There is a constant struggle—not just with women; women and men—in times of rapid change like the one we are living through between something that is different, and may hold out possible, positive consequences and something that is familiar, and the security of what we have right now.”

The election was “a very real struggle between what is viewed as change that is welcomed and exciting to so many Americans and change that is worrisome and threatening to so many others. You lay the first woman president over that and some people, women included, had real problems.”

The misogyny that Clinton endured during the election would not put her off encouraging women to go into politics and public service. The abuse was not new, “but it feels new and painful every time it happens to you.” She understood Eleanor Roosevelt’s observation that women entering public life needed to “grow skin as thick as a rhino… With men, success and ambition are correlated with likeability. The more successful a man is the more likeable he becomes. With a woman, guess what? It’s the exact opposite.”

Clinton pondered that she had a high approval rating as Secretary of State, but “by time they finished with me I was Typhoid Mary, and poor Mary, she didn’t deserve it either.”

Of the relentless attacks, she said, “I take it seriously, but don’t take it personally. Part of personal attacks, part of bullying and name-calling which has become more pervasive because of the internet, is to crush your spirit, and make you doubt yourself. And I refused to do that, and that infuriated them even more.”

Kristof asked if she assigned blame to “Bernie Sanders, the media, emails?”

“How much time do you need?” Clinton deadpanned.

Obama?

“Not him.”

Yourself?

“The combination of the Comey letter and WikiLeaks, which played a much bigger role than many people understand yet, had a determinative effect.”

“The weaponization of information—I didn’t fully understand how impactful it was,” Clinton added. “It created doubts in people, but then the Comey letter coming as it did 10 days before the election raised serious questions in a lot of people that I think were obviously unfounded and nevertheless happened. We’ve got to be really clear: Democrats, Republicans, whatever. What was done in that election what was unprecedented, and we need to be willing to say that cannot happen again.”

She didn’t want another candidate of any political hue to be “subjected to what I was. Communications were stolen, it was theft. We should have tough, aggressive campaigning. That goes with the territory. But we’re not going to let someone sitting in th4e Kremlin with a thousand agents, bots and trolls mix up in our election. And we’ve got to make sure that’s a bipartisan American commitment.”

Of the Trump administration so far, Clinton insisted she took “no pleasure” in seeing its “chaotic functioning.”

She had prepared “a really good transition operation,” while Trump was “going through some very public growing pains.”

However, Clinton added, “I don’t understand the commitment to hurt so many people that this administration this White House, seems to be pursuing.”

There had been “so many examples in just 100 days—the ban on people coming to our country…that really sent a chilling effect across the world not just to Muslims but to people who thought, ‘Don’t you still have Lady Liberty in New York harbor.’ It had a terrible impact.”

As for replacing Obamacare, she said the Republicans “had no clue, no idea” on what to replace it with after she had listened to them for seven years reciting “repeal and replace.” “I don’t think they had read the bill (Obamacare) and how it worked.”

However, “the targeting of women, which is what’s going on, is absolutely beyond any political agenda. There’s something else happening here. The policy-making around the “global gag rule” and stripping funding from the UN Population Fund, Clinton particularly denounced for endangering women and children’s lives. “The more we support women, the more we support democracy,” she said. “Women’s issues are national security issues around the world.”

“The things that come out of some of these men’s mouths!” she added. ‘Why do we have to cover maternity care?’ ‘Ooo I dunno, maybe you were dropped by immaculate conception. That classic picture of all of them sitting around table deciding how to defund Planned Parenthood and end maternity care, and end access to insurance for family planning and contraception— looking at that picture, I thought, ‘It’s got to be from a skit on Saturday Night Live. It can’t possibly be true.”

Clinton’s favorite current GIF, she said, was the one where the men around the table are substituted by discussing feline health.

On Syria, Clinton called on the United States to take out Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s Air Force.

“Assad has an air force, and that air force is the cause of most of these civilian deaths as we have seen over the years and as we saw again in the last few days,” Clinton said. “And I really believe that we should have and still should take out his air fields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them.”

Kristof asked if she would run for office again. Clinton replied, “The short answer is I am really focused on just doing some things that I can help make a difference with, like supporting young people, getting more women into politics, and I very much want to help Democrats take back the Congress.”

That didn’t sound like a definitive refusal, Kristof said.

“You know I am looking into doing interesting things. I don’t think that will involve running for office again. There are lots of ways to make a difference.” These might be profit and not for profit organizations that help people “to live own lives better, and tell their stories better. Rights and opportunities for women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st century. I think there’s a lot to do.”

A standing ovation, whoops, and cries of “We love you, Hillary” followed. Tina Brown, the founder of Women in the World--and formerly the founder and editor of the Daily Beast--told her that Clinton was still needed “to be out there bigtime. We need your leadership, we need your voice. It’s always going to be important.” More whooping and cries of “Love you” followed as Clinton shook audience members’ outstretched hands, and the hollering continued as she finally disappeared from the stage.