Hillary Clinton gave her most extensive and candid remarks to date Wednesday concerning how she believes the Russians tilted the 2016 elections in favor of Donald Trump.
The Russians, she explained, have been hacking and stealing digital information for decades and using that intelligence for internal purposes. The difference in 2016 was that they figured out how to "weaponize" that information in the context of an American election.
“I think it is fair to ask," Clinton said at the Recode Conference in Southern California, "how did they know what messages to deliver? Who told them?"
The Russians had to have input into how to make the information they stole matter in the course of a U.S. election, she argued.
The Russians, in my opinion—and based on the Intel and counter Intel, people I've talked to—could not have known how best to weaponize that information unless they had been guided.
Clinton then offered a fascinating case in point, noting that the initial round of the now infamous Podesta emails were first posted to WikiLeaks "within one hour" of when news first broke about Donald Trump's "Grab 'em by the pussy" Access Hollywood tapes.
They had to be ready for that and they had to have a plan for that and they had to be given the go-ahead—Okay, this could be the end of the Trump campaign, dump it now.
Find a longer excerpt and video clip of Clinton’s remarks below
The best example, so within one hour, one hour of the "Access Hollywood" tapes being leaked, within one hour, the Russians, let's say Wikileaks—same thing—dumped the Jon Podesta emails. Now, if you've ever read the Jon Podesta emails, they are anodyne to boredom. [...] They were run-of-the-mill e-mails, especially run-of-the-mill for a campaign. Should she do this? What should she say today? The stuff that is so common, basic.
Within one hour they dumped them and then they began to weaponize them. And they began to have some of their allies within the internet world, like Infowars, take out pieces and begin to say the most outrageous, outlandish, absurd lies you can imagine.
And so they had to be ready for that and they had to have a plan for that and they had to be given the go-ahead—Okay, this could be the end of the Trump campaign, dump it now. And then let's do everything we can to weaponize it. And we know it hurt us. As I explain in my book, you know, the Comey letter which was, now we know, partly based on a false memo from the Russians—it was a classic piece of Russian disinformation—compromat—they call it. For whatever reason but I speculate, I can't look inside the guy's mind. He dumps that on me on October 28, and I immediately start falling. But what was really interesting, since the mainstream media covered that, as I say, Pearl Harbor, front pages everywhere, huge type, et cetera. All the Trump people go around screaming “Lock her up! Lock her up!”
At the same time the biggest Google searches were not for Comey, because that information was just lying out there. It was for Wikileaks.
So voters who are being targeted with all this false information are genuinely trying to make up their minds. What does it mean? And we know that the Google searches for this stuff were particularly high in places in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.