On Wednesday evening, Hillary Clinton invited the Chinese government and foreign intelligence communities to hack into President Trump’s tax records and to publicly release his returns.
The former Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump in 2016 made the comments to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and said she felt justified in making the comments as Trump similarly encouraged Russia to hack the Democratic National Committee email server, Politico reports. These servers were hacked in 2016 and their contents were published through WikiLeaks.
“Imagine, Rachel, that you had one of the Democratic nominees for 2020 on your show, and that person said, you know, the only other adversary of ours who is anywhere near as good as the Russians is China,” Clinton said to Maddow. “So why should Russia have all the fun? And since Russia is clearly backing Republicans, why don’t we ask China to back us?”
“And not only that, China, if you’re listening, why don’t you get Trump’s tax returns?” Clinton added. “I’m sure our media would richly reward you.”
Here’s more, from Politico:
Her phrasing echoed a statement by Donald Trump about Hillary Clinton’s emails during the 2016 campaign. “Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said at a July news conference in Florida. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Blasted for inviting a foreign power to interfere in an American election, Trump subsequently claimed he was not serious. However, the Mueller report indicated Russian hackers — clearly paying close attention to the U.S. campaign — did go after Clinton’s emails within hours of Trump’s remarks.
Clinton said the No. 1 thing she learned from reading special counsel Robert Mueller’s partially redacted report was that Russia conducted a “sweeping and systemic interference” in the 2016 election and has not been held accountable. And that she worries there is reason to believe they will do it again.
Clinton also said the most important thing she learned was “the Russians were successful” in sowing “discord and divisiveness” in the country, and helping Donald Trump.
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Clinton continued: “Let’s have a great power contest, and let’s get the Chinese in on the side of somebody else. Just saying, that shows how absurd the situation we find ourselves in.”
Here’s a partial transcript of the Maddow-Clinton conversation, via Breitbart:
MADDOW: But, I mean, as somebody who has confronted these things in a leadership position and somebody whose been on the sharp end of this as a target, do you feel like if the U.S. government really cared and was motivated and wasn’t intending to stop this from happening, there are things that we could do, we could be effective, we could stop this, and we’re just not choosing those policy options?
CLINTON: Absolutely. And we have evidence of that.
On Election Day in 2018, we know that our government used cyber tools to shut down a lot of the sites that they feared could be interfering. So, number one, that tells us they know. Two, they took action to stop them.
I think that’s just literally the tip of the spear, though. I think there is so much more that could and should be done.
And, you know, there are a lot of people. You can read them online. You can read their academic work. They have all kinds of ideas about what to do to protect our systems.
The Republicans in the Senate wouldn’t at all go forward with some of the bipartisan legislation that was meant to secure our elections under orders from the White House.
Now, why is that? Well, because they think it helped them. And the Republicans look at the Trump White House and say, well, you know, the Russians probably did help them, you know, just whatever extent we may not yet know, so we’re not going to go there. We’re going to do what they tell us.
Imagine, Rachel, that you had one of the Democratic nominees for 2020 on your show, and that person said, you know, the only other adversary of ours who is anywhere near as good as the Russians is China. So, why should Russia have all the fun? And since Russia is clearly backing Republicans, why don’t we ask China to back us.
MADDOW: I hereby tonight ask China —
CLINTON: That’s right. And not only that, China, if you’re listening, why don’t you get Trump’s tax returns. I’m sure our media would richly reward you.
Now according to the Mueller report, that is not conspiracy because it’s done right out in the open.
So, if after this hypothetical Democratic candidate says this on your show, within hours, all of a sudden, the IRS offices are bombarded with incredibly sophisticated cyber tools looking for Trump’s tax returns, and then extracts and them and then passes them to whatever the new WikiLeaks happens to be and they start being unraveled and disclosed — nothing wrong with that.
I mean, if you’re going let Russia get away with what they did and are still doing according to Christopher Wray, the current FBI director, who said that last week, they’re in our election systems. We’re worried about 2020, he said.
So, hey, let’s have a great power contest, and let’s get the Chinese in on the side of somebody else. Just saying that shows how absurd the situation we find ourselves in.
Later in the interview, Maddow asked Clinton about Attorney General William Barr and if she felt there should be repercussions for perceived bias in his handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report.
Barr attended a House Judiciary Committee hearing earlier in the day where he gave his defense amid the allegations.
“I think that the Democrats on the committee did a good job today in exposing that he is the president’s defense lawyer,” Clinton said. “He is not the attorney general of the United States in the way that he has conducted himself.”
“Calling for his resignation makes perfect sense,” she also said.
Barr was initially scheduled for a second day of the committee hearings on Thursday but announced he withdrew his voluntary participation and would not be attending.