Hillary Clinton. Photo/AP
Hillary Clinton launched an all-out assault on Donald Trump
Wednesday, claiming he must have “guided” Russian efforts to keep her out of the White House.
Openly saying that she believed he had “colluded” with Russia, she made an astonishing series of claims about the presidential election, including claiming that the “vast majority” of news
about her on Facebook was “fake”.
She even cited ‘Pizzagate’, claiming that claims she was involved in a child sex-trafficking network in a Washington D.C. restaurant had helped swing “low information voters”.
Clinton spoke at a tech conference in Silicon Valley to an audience which applauded repeatedly as she outlined her allegations against Trump – a man she described as having a “visceral grasp on America’s political underbelly”.
The loser began by saying: “I take responsibility for every decision I made but that is not why I lost.”The question and answer session is her latest return to public life after her defeat. It was unclear if she was paid for the appearance at the Codecon conference in Rancho Palos Verde.
Then Clinton spelled out a detailed theory that her campaign had been hit by the Russian hacking and that it used its agents to spread “fake news”.
But she added: “The Russians in my opinion – and based on intelligence and counterintelligence people I have spoken to – could not have known best how to weaponize that information unless they had been guided by a specific group of people. By Americans.”
Pressed by one of the two moderators, Kara Swisher, founder of tech website Recode, as to who it could have been that was doing the guiding she said: “Yes, I am leaning Trump. It is pretty hard not to.”
And she repurposed one of her most notorious claims, that in the 1990s she and Bill Clinton were the target of a “vast right-wing conspiracy”, claiming that the media had “ignored” her campaign’s warnings about it before the election.
“It was a vast right-wing conspiracy,” she said. “Now it is a vast Russian conspiracy – turns out we were right.”
Donald Trump giving his acceptance speech after defeating Hillary Clinton. Photo/AP
Clinton claimed that Facebook had been used to spread “fake news” about her and claimed that “the majority of news” about her on it was “fake”.
It is unclear where her figure comes from. She claimed there were “1,000 Russian agents involved in delivering those messages”.
She also alleged that the fact that “Wikileaks – the Russians, it’s the same” had published its hacked John Podesta emails within an hour of the notorious Access Hollywood tape in which Trump was recorded talking about grabbing women “by the p****”.
They could not have made that decision themselves, she suggested.
She claimed “low information voters” were persuaded by reading fake news on Facebook and said: “Some people were sucked in. Some people stayed home. Some people voted Trump.”
Clinton alleged there were “1,000 Russian agents” involved in the effort against her to create fake news.
There were, she claimed, “content farms” producing “lies” – but that the reason the Russians knew what to do was because they were being “guided”.
And then she claimed that her campaign had evidence of how the fake news had influenced the election.
“You had counties that had voted for Obama and were not particularly keen about voting for Trump, but worried that I was going to jail, worried that I was, you know, running a child trafficking operation in the basement of a pizzeria.
“The kind of things that were in WikiLeaks – you laugh, but people were obsessing over this stuff. Obsessing over it.
Donald Trump stands with Hillary Clinton. Photo/AP
“And you put yourself in the position of a low-information voter, and all of a sudden your Facebook feed, your Twitter account is saying, ‘Oh my gosh, Hillary Clinton is running a child trafficking operation in Washington with John Podesta!’
“Well, you don’t believe it, but this has been such an unbelievable election. You kinda go, ‘Oh, maybe I’d better look into that’.”
Swisher intervened to repeat a claim that a Facebook story had described Clinton as secretly being a lizard and said: “Yeah, and you are a lizard.”
Clinton replied: “Yeah! And then, well whatever I am. I’m everything.
“And you know, and so you begin to get sucked into it. So some people stayed home, some people voted for Trump, some people stayed with me and some people went third-party – because they wanted to vote, they thought it was their duty, but they didn’t like Trump and now they thought I was, you know, as bad as they were being told. So it was, it was a confluence of all kinds of things.”
She also took aim at Twitter and Facebook claiming that they were being pushed “towards conspiracies and lies”.
“What do you do to try to contain the weaponization and manipulation of that information? I don’t think we know yet,” she said.
“I have a lot of sympathy for people making those decisions. I just wish they’d hurry up.”
She seemed to advocate censorship saying that if it was a choice between allowing fake news and ‘curating’ to keep it out, “I’d rather err on that side”.
And she suggested that Russia or Trump were somehow behind a deliberate inflation of his numbers of twitter followers through the use of bots, because his European and Middle East tour had been a flop.
Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Photo/AP
“Who is behind driving up Trump’s twitter followers by the millions?” she said.
“We know they’re bots. Is it to make him look more popular than he is? Is it to influence others? What is the message behind this?
“You’re sitting in Moscow, in Macedonia, the White House, wherever you are and saying ‘that trip may not have worked out so well, pushing the guy, failing to express our support for Nato. How do we recover from that?’
“You can’t let Trump and his allies be a diversion. They are a threat.”
Clinton did not just blame the Russians and Trump for her defeat – she also advanced claims that she had been discriminated against because of her gender and unfairly kept off television.
The former Secretary of State had cashed in when she left office by giving speeches to Wall Street and other forums, charging as much as $400,000 a time.
They became a political liability – but she now claims it was sexism which was behind that.
“Men got paid for the speeches they made. I got paid for the speeches I made,” she said.
“It got used and I felt unfairly used. But it was part of the background message.”
In fact her two main opponents were first Bernie Sanders, who was clear that he had never been paid large amounts for a speech to Wall Street, and Donald Trump, who did not declare any earnings from comparable speeches.
She was asked by Mossberg why she took money from Goldman Sachs, and hit back by asking why the bank was at the Recode conference.
“They pay us
,” the host said.
“They paid me,” Clinton replied.
But her blaming of misogyny did not end there – even suggesting that Barack Obama had it easier because he was “an attractive man” when he became the first black president.
She said that voters were not ready to accept people who did not “look like or speak like” previous presidents.
“President Obama broke that racial barrier but he was a very attractive man,” she said.
She added: “I never said I ran perfect campaigns but I don’t know who did. At some point, it bleeds over into misogyny.”
Former President Barack Obama. Photo/AP
She also took aim at the “media” for what she suggested was systemic bias against her – using examples which are likely to be pushed back against by television executives in coming days.
Among her allegations were that Trump had got more air time because he “called in” to shows rather than appearing in studios, which had not generally been allowed.
“Network executives said ‘Trump may not be good for the country, but he’s good for business’,” she claimed.
Another aspect of her victimhood was that people thought she would win.
“I was the victim of a broad assumption that I was going to win,” she said, claiming that it had made things more difficult for her.
And there was also blame for the liberal New York Times which had endorsed her but which she claimed had covered her secret email server – and her subsequent lies about it, which she did not acknowledge – like it was “Pearl Harbor”.
“The overriding issue that affected the election that I had any control over… was the way that the use of my email account was turned into the biggest scandal since lord knows when,” she claimed.
“This was the biggest nothing burger ever. They way that it was used was very damaging.
“It was interesting – I know you had Dean Baquet from The New York Times yesterday [the paper’s most senior editor], and they covered it like it was Pearl Harbor. And then in their endorsement of me they said ‘this email thing it’s like a helpdesk issue.'”
Also getting hit in the media were Netflix. The on-demand video streaming service did not have a fair balance of political documentaries, she claimed.
“Eight of the top 10 political documentaries on Netflix were screeds against President Obama and me,” she claimed.
Democratic supporters were not making the correct sort of documentaries, she claimed.
She was not short of solidarity on the stage during the one hour and 17 minute session, as Mossberg, a veteran journalist, referred to the Democratic party as “we” then said “I’m retiring”.
Even her own party did not escape blame – as she said its voter data was riddled with errors and low quality.
“I had to inject money into it,” she said, going on to claim that the Republicans had made sure big data firms would not help her.