Clinton: Trump Was 'Aided and Abetted by the Russians'

2016 Dem nominee says Trump associates colluded with Moscow

Hillary Clinton makes a concession speech after being defeated by Republican president-elect Donald Trump / Getty Images
September 12, 2017

Hillary Clinton is convinced that associates of Donald Trump helped Russia interfere in the 2016 presidential election, arguing in a new interview that she has "no doubt" Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted her to lose.

"There certainly was communication and there certainly was an understanding of some sort," Clinton told USA Today in an interview published Monday night on her new book, What Happened. "Because there's no doubt in my mind that Putin wanted me to lose and wanted Trump to win."

"And there's no doubt in my mind that there are a tangle of financial relationships between Trump and his operation with Russian money," she continued. "And there's no doubt in my mind that the Trump campaign and other associates have worked really hard to hide their connections with Russians."

Clinton said she is certain that elements of then-candidate Trump's campaign helped the Russian government undermine her candidacy, though she refrained from using the word "collusion."

"I'm convinced of it," she said. "I happen to believe in the rule of law and believe in evidence, so I'm not going to go off and make all kinds of outrageous claims. But if you look at what we've learned since [the election], it's pretty troubling."

The two-time failed presidential candidate appeared to describe the alleged collusion as a criminal act, saying that the Kremlin "aided and abetted" Trump. She also warned that the Russians would be back to interfere in future elections.

When USA Today asked Clinton what is the main lesson for Democrats after the election, she responded, "I guess what I would say to whoever is going to run is, since it worked for Trump, and he was aided and abetted by the Russians, then get ready for something you have never seen before. Because as bad as it was in 2016, they will come back with new tricks."

During the wide-ranging interview, Clinton reflected on the campaign and said she will "always feel terrible" that she could not counter the opposition against her. She also took some blame for her surprise loss before projecting most of it on others outside her campaign.

Clinton called her pricey Wall Street speeches "bad optics" and the scandal over her use of a private email server as secretary of state a "boneheaded mistake." She also said her controversial comment that half of Trump's supporters could be put into "what I call the basket of deplorables" was an unintended "political gift" for Trump, though she does not regret or retract the statement.

But Clinton primarily blamed forces outside her campaign—including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), the media, sexism, Putin, former FBI Director James Comey, and former President Barack Obama—for contributing to her loss in various ways.

In her book, Clinton writes that Comey "shivved" her, arguing his announcement to reopen the FBI's email probe 11 days before the election cost her "last-minute momentum."

"My first instinct was that my campaign should hit back hard and explain to the public that Comey had badly overstepped his bounds," Clinton writes. "My team raised concerns with that kind of confrontational approach. In the end, we decided it would be better to just let it go and try to move on. Looking back, that was a mistake."

Beyond Comey, Clinton says the other key figure who contributed to her loss was Putin.

Clinton believes that Putin has a "personal vendetta" against her, dating back to NATO's expansion into eastern Europe during her husband's presidency and what he views as her efforts to encourage demonstrations against him in 2011. The former secretary of state wonders in her new book whether the future would have been different if Obama did more to address Russia's election meddling.

"I do wonder sometimes about what would have happened if President Obama had made a televised address to the nation in the fall of 2016 warning that our democracy was under attack," she writes. "Maybe more Americans would have woken up to the thread in time. We'll never know."

Clinton went on to discuss the role sexism played in the campaign, saying she "underestimated the staying power of sexism" in "society at large."

"I think part of the reason was because of who the candidate was on the other side," she said. "But I also think I may have underestimated the staying power of sexism and particularly the disparity in treatment not just in politics but in all kinds of businesses and academia and society at large."

USA Today noted that Clinton "visibly stiffens when asked whether Sanders' words ('She was upset') were patronizing, even sexist." She called her 2016 Democratic primary opponent "not a Democrat" and said he hurt her campaign.

"Look, I'm pretty clear in the book about what I think he did in the 2016 primary that was damaging to my campaign against Trump. And I contrast it with what I did at the end of the much closer, much more hard-fought 2008 primary," she said. "He's not a Democrat. That's not a slam on him; that's what he says. He's not a Democrat. So it's a little bit odd for him to be looked to by the press or anybody else as a major voice in the Democratic Party."

Clinton also acknowledged during the interview that she "misread the depth of anger and frustration of the electorate," USA Today reported.