Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that Russia’s meddling in the presidential election was “probably bigger than Watergate” and that the Kremlin ran “a highly sophisticated influence operation.”
“It’s probably bigger than Watergate, because it is about the future,” the former Democratic presidential candidate told Anderson Cooper on CNN. “We no longer are worried about spies dressed in black stealing information.
“They do it sitting in the offices of the Russian military intelligence and other related venues and they get into the core of our life now through the computer networks.”
Cooper’s interview with Clinton was part of her book tour promoting her new memoir, “What Happened.”
Despite claims by Republicans that Moscow did not change any votes in the November election, Clinton told Cooper that “this was a highly sophisticated influence operation.
“It did affect people’s votes,” she said. “I think it cost me votes.”
She added that the stolen Democratic National Committee eventually published by WikiLeaks “were weaponized” by the Kremlin.
“They clearly knew that stories that were being made up trying to use the e-mails and were permeating Facebook and other sites,” she said of the Trump campaign.
“I think the influence did affect individual voters,” Clinton said. “What we don’t know yet – and we’re only beginning to get evidence of is why were the Russians intruding into our voter registration rolls.”
Clinton declined to say whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow, but did say that “I’m convinced there was communication.
“I’m convinced there were meetings and phone calls. I’m convinced that there were financial entanglements.
“Let’s wait to see what it’s called,” Clinton added. “I’m convinced that there was something going on.”
She expressed “a lot of confidence” in special counsel Robert Mueller. “He’s an honorable man.”
But Clinton slammed Trump on Moscow because “our president, whoever our president is, should be defending our country and standing up and saying: ‘Nobody messes with America. We are not going to tolerate that.’
“We don’t hear any of that coming from the White House.”
Clinton also said that former FBI Director James Comey’s reopening of the agency’s probe into her private email use late in the campaign provided “a perfect storm” that helped her lose the election.
“Reopening it caused people once again to be obsessed with e-mails and then [campaign manager John] Podesta’s e-mails being used to drive this negative story about me, I think it came together to really kind of make some people queasy – like, ‘What if she goes to jail?'”
“People would say things like: ‘You know, I like her and she’s done a good job, but what if she’s in jail?'” she told Cooper.
“I knew that was happening, but I thought we would ride it out.”
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