Hillary Clinton 'convinced' of Russian collusion with Donald Trump's aides

The former secretary of state blames lots of people for her defeat, including herself 

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Tuesday 12 September 2017 14:41 BST
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Ms Clinton blames a lot of people for her defeat, including herself
Ms Clinton blames a lot of people for her defeat, including herself (Getty)

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Louise Thomas

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Hillary Clinton has claimed Vladimir Putin had a “personal vendetta” against her and that she is convinced Russia colluded with members of Donald Trump’s campaign team during last year’s president election.

Ms Clinton, who suffered a stunning, surprised defeat to the former reality television star, said she believed the Russian leader held her responsible for Nato’s expansion into eastern Europe when her husband was president. Asked if she believed Moscow colluded with her rival’s campaign to defeat her, she said: “I’m convinced of it.”

“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,” she said.

“But if you look at what we’ve learned since [the election], it’s pretty troubling.”

Ms Clinton’s comments in an interview with USA Today, at her home in upstate New York, come as she promotes a new book, What Happened, in which she discusses the campaign and reflects on why she lost to Mr Trump.

In the aftermath of her defeat last November, many who disliked him, faulted her for a campaign that lacked a clear message, failed to generate excitement among young people and included basic tactical errors such as failing to visit Wisconsin, which some believe reflected hubris and complacency among her team.

Ms Clinton has sought to accept responsibly for some of the failings. “I go back over my own shortcomings and the mistakes we made,” she writes.

“I take responsibility for all of them. You can blame the data, blame the message, blame anything you want - but I was the candidate. It was my campaign. Those were my decisions.”

Bernie Sanders: "Hillary Clinton ran against the most unpopular candidate in history and lost"

Yet she also takes aim at plenty of others, including Bernie Sanders, her rival in the Democratic primary.

In the book, she claims that the Vermont senator resorted to “innuendo and impugning my character”.

“His attacks caused lasting damage, making it harder to unify progressives in the general election and paving the way for Trump’s Crooked Hillary’ campaign,” she writes.

Asked about her comments, she told the newspaper: “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 added: “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.”

She also claimed that former FBI Director James Comey dealt her campaign a deadly blow when he announced, 11 days before before election day, that new emails had been uncovering during the probe of her use of a private email server. She wrote that he “shivved” her.

“My first instinct was that my campaign should hit back hard and explain to the public that Comey had badly overstepped his bounds,” she said in the interview. “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.”

Ms Clinton’s willingness to drag over old ground and what many will see as her refusal to point the finger of blame at others, will add fire to the debate within the party as to what direction it should head as it prepares for the 2018 midterms and the presidential election of 2020. At the moment, it is progressive figures such as Mr Sanders and senator Elizabeth Warren who appear to have more momentum when compared to centrist figures within the party.

Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham University in New York, told The Independent that the book may be cathartic, both for Ms Clinton and her supporters. It may be her chance to be genuinely raw, she said. Yet she said she feared it publication was a little too early. "I'd have preferred another year of reflection before she wrote it," she said. "That way, there may more useful analysis."

Mr Sanders, who urged his supporters to get behind her during an impassioned speech at the Democratic National Convention, has already dismissed her criticism of her.

“Look, Secretary Clinton ran against the most unpopular candidate in the history of this country and she lost and she was upset about it and I understand that,” he told CBS News. “I think it’s a little bit silly to keep talking about 2016.”

Democratic congressman Jared Huffman of California, recently tweeted of Ms Clinton’s comments about Mr Sanders: “Please Hillary, don’t go there. I supported you. Bernie showed restraint and class and ran aspirational campaign. Politics is rough sometimes.”

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