Hillary Clinton had kept a purposely low profile in the wake of her stunning 2016 defeat at the hands of President Donald Trump. Until Tuesday, that is.
In a sit-down interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour as part of a “Women for Women International” event in New York City, Clinton let rip on Russian interference in the election, FBI Director James Comey, misogyny, the media and, last but certainly not least, Trump.
“He should worry less about the election and me winning the popular vote and more about other things,” Clinton said.
“Remember, I did win more than 3 million votes than my opponent,” she said.
“I’m back to being a private citizen, and part of the resistance,” she said.
It was a remarkable moment for Clinton — fierce, unapologetic and even sarcastic. It was a striking reversal from the measured public persona she had cultivated throughout her career.
What came through loud and clear — despite her assertions that she made a number of mistakes in the course of the campaign — was that Clinton believes that the election was taken from her. And that she’s still mad as hell about it.
“I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me and got scared off. And the evidence for that intervening event is I think compelling, persuasive and so we overcame a lot in the campaign,” Clinton said at one point, citing analysis by 538’s Nate Silver suggesting that up until those twin events, she was winning.
She sarcastically noted the “coincidence” that an hour after the story of Trump’s lewd comments on an “Access Hollywood” taping broke, WikiLeaks revealed it had more than 50,000 private emails sent by her campaign chairman John Podesta. (Here’s a timeline of that day, via PolitiFact.)
And, in an even more stunning statement, Clinton seemed to suggest some level of coordination between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Trump campaign.
“He certainly interfered in our election and it was clear he interfered to hurt me and helped my opponent,” Clinton said of Putin, adding: “If you chart my opponent and his campaign’s statements, they quite coordinated with the goals that leader who shall remain nameless had.”
Clinton also attacked the mainstream media. She argued that in her three presidential debates, none of the moderators asked Trump what, specifically, his plans were to “make America great again” and to create jobs.
That’s not accurate. In fact, in the first question in the first presidential debate by NBC’s Lester Holt to both candidates was about how to create jobs and get the economy whirring again. (You can read the transcript yourself here.)
The question going forward is what Clinton’s willingness to engage in the blame game — and her clear belief she didn’t really lose the election — means for her political future.
Read one way, Clinton’s stark tone is a result of the fact that she now knows she will never seek office again and can speak her mind without considering the political fallout.
Read another, Clinton’s comments on Tuesday were a call to arms — a pledge to resist Trump and the agenda he represents at every turn. That’s just the sort of thing someone who might actually be mulling another presidential bid in 2020 would do.
“She is not running for anything — but she’s just not hiding,” a Clinton confidante told CNN’s Jeff Zeleny shortly after the speech.
No, she isn’t.