We don’t always agree with Hillary, but hey, when she’s right, she’s right
Putin’s puppet and acting like a tinhorn dictator
Hillary Clinton responded on Wednesday to news that the Trump administration is considering appointing a special counsel to investigate her alleged ties to the Uranium One deal, calling the move “a disastrous step into politicizing the Justice Department” and “such an abuse of power.”
In an exclusive interview with Mother Jones, Clinton said such an investigation would have devastating consequences for the justice system in America. “If they send a signal that we’re going to be like some dictatorship, like some authoritarian regime, where political opponents are going to be unfairly, fraudulently investigated, that rips at the fabric of the contract we have, that we can trust our justice system,” Clinton said. “It will be incredibly demoralizing to people who have served at the Justice Department, under both Republicans and Democrats, because they know better. But it will also send a terrible signal to our country and the world that somehow we are giving up on the kind of values that we used to live by and we used to promote worldwide.”
The New York Times and Washington Post reported this week that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had asked top prosecutors to examine whether to appoint a special counsel to probe the sale of a uranium company to Russian interests while Clinton was secretary of state. Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have alleged links between the sale of the company and donations to the Clinton Foundation, even though nine different federal agencies signed off on the deal in 2010.
“I regret deeply that this appears to be the politicization of the Justice Department and our justice system,” Clinton said on Wednesday. “This Uranium One story has been debunked countless times by members of the press, by independent experts. It is nothing but a false charge that the Trump administration is trying to drum up to avoid attention being drawn to them.”
She said the Trump administration was trying to change the subject from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government. But she said she was not personally worried about being prosecuted.
“I’m not concerned, because I know that there is no basis to it,” she said. “I regret if they do it because it will be such a disastrous step to politicizing the justice system. And at the end of the day, nothing will come of it, but it will, you know, cause a lot of terrible consequences that we might live with for a really long time.”
Election flipped by Russians
A year after her defeat by Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton says “there are lots of questions about its legitimacy” due to Russian interference and widespread voter suppression efforts.
In an interview with Mother Jones in downtown Manhattan, Clinton said Russian meddling in the election “was one of the major contributors to the outcome.” The Russians used “weaponized false information,” she said, in “a very successful disinformation campaign” that “wasn’t just influencing voters—it was determining the outcome.”
Republican efforts to make it harder to vote—through measures such as voter ID laws, shortened early voting periods, and new obstacles to registration—likewise “contributed to the outcome,” Clinton said. These moves received far less attention than Russian interference but arguably had a more demonstrable impact on the election result. According to an MIT study, more than 1 million people did not vote in 2016 because they encountered problems registering or at the polls. Clinton lost the election by a total of 78,000 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
“In a couple of places, most notably Wisconsin, I think it had a dramatic impact on the outcome,” Clinton said of voter suppression.
Wisconsin’s new voter ID law required a Wisconsin driver’s license or one of several other types of ID to cast a ballot. It blocked or deterred up to 23,000 people from voting in reliably Democratic Milwaukee and Madison, and potentially 45,000 people statewide, according to a University of Wisconsin study. Clinton lost the state by fewer than 23,000 votes. African Americans, who overwhelmingly supported Clinton, were more than three times as likely as whites not to vote because of the law.
“It seems likely that it cost me the election [in Wisconsin] because of the tens of thousands of people who were turned away and the margin being so small,” Clinton said.
She noted that this was the first presidential election in more than 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court gutted the law in a 2013 ruling, and 14 states had new voting restrictions in effect for the first time. “So many places have really tried to make it as difficult as they possibly could for young people, for African Americans, the elderly, to vote,” she said.
For Clinton and others who question the legitimacy of the election results, particularly due to Russian interference, there’s not an obvious next step. “We don’t have a method for contesting that in our system,” she said. “That’s why I’ve long advocated for an independent commission to get to the bottom of what happened.” On Wednesday, Democrats in Congress introduced articles of impeachment against Trump, but Clinton thinks that’s the wrong approach. “I think we need the investigations to continue,” she said, “and I think that it’s premature.”
But Clinton stood by a claim she made during a presidential debate last year, that if Trump were elected president, he would be Putin’s “puppet.” Asked if she still felt that way, Clinton said, “I do.”
“I don’t know how the president of the United States, with all of the concerns about the integrity of our elections, could meet with Putin just recently and basically say, ‘Well, you know, he told me again he didn’t do it,’” she said. “I can’t believe that he’s so naïve. I think that he hopes or expects the rest of us to be naïve, or at least the people who support him to be naïve. But this is a serious cyberattack on America.”
The impact of Russian interference in the election can be measured in a few tangible ways. Operatives in Russia published about 80,000 Facebook posts that reached 126 million Americans, as Russia-linked Facebook ads targeted swing states like Michigan and Wisconsin. More than 36,000 Russia-linked Twitter accounts generated 1.4 million tweets about the election that had 288 million impressions. The constant drumbeat of stories based on Clinton campaign and Democratic Party emails obtained by Russian-backed hackers is one reason that then-FBI Director James Comey’s 11th-hour letter hurt Clinton so much.
Clinton admitted that her campaign had “shortcomings” that contributed to her loss, but she said the stakes of Russian meddling were bigger than just the election result. “If we don’t figure out what they did to us and take adequate steps to prevent it, they’re only going to get better,” she said. “This is the first time we’ve ever been attacked by a foreign adversary and then they suffer no real consequences.”
The interview came amid a slew of new allegations of sexual assault against prominent figures in politics and entertainment. Asked why the various sexual assault allegations against Trump haven’t stuck when similar ones have recently ended careers, Clinton said she couldn’t explain it. “I don’t understand a lot about how he got away with so many attacks and insults and behaviors that allowed him to win the presidency,” she said. “I think part of it is because a lot of people really saw him more as an entertainment figure.”
She added, “It’s something that people are going to be scratching their heads about a long time.”