The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 9/14/17 Hillary Clinton interview
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: September 14, 2017
Guest: Hillary Clinton
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
My guest this hour is the former secretary of state, former presidential
candidate, Hillary Clinton. You might have heard she has a new book out.
It`s called, simply, “What Happened.”
Secretary Clinton, I usually start with a gigantic 17-minute monologue, but
tonight, we`re just going right into this. Thank you so much for being
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Let me start with something that just happened tonight. North
Korea tonight just shot another missile over Japan. They`ve done this
twice in two and a half weeks now.
MADDOW: You have said – since you`ve been talking about your book and
since people had the chance to talk to you about current affairs – you
said that President Trump is being played by Kim Jong-un, that Trump is
somehow playing right into his hand.
MADDOW: What do you mean by that?
CLINTON: Well, I mean, a couple things. One, we know we can`t get
anything done in this very threatening situation if we don`t work with our
allies, South Korea and Japan, and also bring China in.
The president has basically insulted and attacked South Korea. South Korea
is literally, you know, within miles of the border with North Korea. They
would be so at risk if something were done by Kim Jong-un. Japan, which
now has, as you said, two missiles flying over it is going to have to be
coaxed into a very intensive diplomatic effort because the alternative for
Japan is to say we`re going to defend ourselves. We`re not going to sit by
and let this happen.
So, what I`ve been advocating, which – you know, it`s not revolutionary
but it`s what we need, is intensive diplomacy and upping our missile
defense systems, both in South Korea and in Japan. Now, that won`t make
China happy. They don`t want us to put our THAAD system or advanced
missile defense into these two countries, but that should bring them to the
table, so that they are part of making it clear to Kim Jong-un that there
And the message has to be not hysterically, not delivered in a tweet, but
very clear and convincing that if you attack our allies or you go after any
territory, be it Guam or any part of the United States, we will have to
retaliate and we will do so with devastating consequences.
We don`t want to get there. That is not the preferred position. You don`t
start with that. You make it clear that`s where, if he does offensive
measures against us, we would end up.
But here`s my big concern: diplomacy with North Korea is complicated. It
requires people who know the language, the customs, the history.
We have decimated our State Department. Foreign service officers with
decades of experience have either been ignored or in some cases pushed so
hard that they have resigned. Right now, we need the best people we can
possibly muster to have in full court press on diplomacy and then we can
see realistically where we are.
But this missile test and it not clear yet from an earlier reports whether
it`s an intermediate range or an intercontinental ballistic missile, is
sending a message from Kim Jong-un that he is not deterred. And that`s
what I mean about all the tough talk that we hear from our president really
actually playing into Kim Jong-un`s hands. And that`s what I mean when I
say he`s been played.
And this is a clear and present danger, and if it`s allowed to go forward,
we will face even worse choices. That`s why, right now, we need smart
diplomatic intervention. If we don`t have it in the government, then bring
in some people from the outside with experience. We have experience
diplomats who have dealt with North Korea.
But this needs to be happening right now and get over the Twitter stuff and
get onto the diplomatic negotiations.
MADDOW: You have described, this week, you`ve said that it seems to you
that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis may be effectively operating as both
defense secretary and secretary of state. You, of course, are one of the
highest profile secretaries of state we`ve ever had. Rex Tillerson is
among the lowest, certainly the lowest in modern times.
He has advocated a 30 percent cut to his agency. He`s left dozens of senior
jobs unfilled as you said today. He told State Department staff that his
biggest goal for the State Department is efficiency and that`s why he wants
to shrink the State Department so much. They`ve even stopped doing daily
Given the risk of nuclear war with North Korea, given the sorts of
diplomatic challenges that we`ve got around the country and around the
world, why do you think they are hollowing out the State Department?
CLINTON: Well, I think they came in with preexisting conceptions about the
State Department and about diplomacy that were not particularly well-
founded. It`s not that you don`t want to be more efficient. I actually
had a process to try to make sure we became more efficient. But they came
in with a bias against diplomats and diplomacy.
Now, the good news, Rachel, is that the budget that Tillerson`s been
promoting has been rejected in the Senate Appropriations Committee on a
bipartisan basis. The members of the Senate had said, look, you know, we
traveled the world. We know what our diplomats do on the front lines and
we`re not going to give you a 30 percent cut and they basically came up
with about the same amount of money.
So, the Congress is even recognizing that there is no strategy. There`s no
real plan. What I hear from inside the department, because I still have a
lot of communication coming to me, is that there`s a very small group of
people around Tillerson, none of them experienced diplomats that he has
brought in to be his palace guard so to speak. They don`t even reach out
into the State Department to talk to the people who have studied North
Korea for years.
So, they`re not getting her expertise and experience that is still at the
State Department. And I think that`s a –
MADDOW: Because you think they`re disdainful event –
CLINTON: I think they`re disdainful. I don`t think – I think they don`t
know what they don`t know to be honest. I think that they had views that
were superficial, and I think the perspective of Secretary Tillerson was as
a chief executive officer, where you tell people what to do. You tell Kim
Jong-un what to do. You tell people that, you know, you have a different
You know, the world is a really complex place and it`s about a lot of
things that people in the State Department have had experience with and at
least should be brought to the table and listened to, which I don`t think
MADDOW: Do you think that there – that it was inherently a bad idea to
take somebody who had been a lifer at Exxon, somebody who only in his adult
life ever worked at Exxon, the immediate past CEO of Exxon, to put him
immediately in charge of diplomacy and the State Department. I mean, when
you were secretary of state in 2011, Rex Tillerson went to Vladimir Putin`s
MADDOW: – on the Black Sea to celebrate Exxon and Russia signing a half
trillion dollar oil deal. That`s probably the biggest oil deal in the
history of oil.
MADDOW: Putin later awarded him the Russian Order of Friendship, when
another part of that deal closed.
I mean, is – was he a strange choice for the job as being the CEO of Exxon
inappropriate experience to bring to the job that he`s trying to do now?
CLINTON: I think it`s very limited experience. You know, I think there
have been in our past people with extensive business experience, CEO
positions, other kinds of private sector work that I believe could have
gotten into this position and had a better understanding of what`s required
in the 21st century.
I don`t know that he was a particularly bad choice from the very beginning.
I mean, I didn`t know anything about him other than what you just said
basically, but he never reached out to anybody. He`s never asked people –
you know, there used to be a tradition, Republican, Democratic
administrations, you would come in and the prior secretaries of state would
all get together and have a dinner and talk. And often times, you would be
on the other end of a phone call saying, you know, what did you deal with
on this? Can you tell me some more about that?
I`ve talked to a few of the other secretaries of state that are still
around and nobody has heard anything, whether they were Republican or
MADDOW: And you haven`t had any communication with him?
CLINTON: No, none. I saw – I met him at the inauguration lunch and that
was it. And then you`ve got somebody like Steve Bannon who clearly is
wielding influence from the outside who recently just spewed contempt about
some excellent American public servants, including two prior Republican
secretaries of state and one prior Republican national security advisor.
So, the attitude was so negative and – you know, why take a job that
you`re not willing to really dive into and learn about? And you come in
with preconceptions and you have a model that you`re trying to put on top
of an institution that has so much inherent strength, even though, yes,
does it have problems? Everything in government does. That`s not a big
But then not to want to learn. I kept waiting for the aha moment where
you`d hear, you know, the secretary actually called in people and said,
hey, tell me what I don`t know. Tell me what I need to know. Let`s
But from what I hear, that doesn`t happen and, in fact, there is a
concerted effort to prevent that from happening.
MADDOW: Attorney General Jeff sessions, as you know, was less than
forthcoming in his confirmation process with the Senate about his own
contacts with Russian ambassador during the campaign and when that came to
light, he recused himself – he recused himself from any DOJ matters having
to do with the campaign.
MADDOW: Tonight, “The New York Times” has reported that President Trump
was so incensed about the attorney general recusing himself from those
matters and so angry about the appointment of Robert Mueller, the special
counsel who`s looking into Trump and Russia, that he berated the attorney
general and called him an idiot in front of a roomful of people. He told
the attorney general that he should resign. Jeff Sessions, according to
“The New York Times”, then submitted his resignation letter to the
president and the president would not accept it.
The Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said to have called this the most
humiliating experience of his professional life.
That`s all being reported tonight.
Here is my question for you: Having been through your own particular
version of the Trump ringer as his political opponent, do you have any
advice for his staff?
CLINTON: Well, look, this is a man who engages in humiliation and
domination as a tactic of control, and he acted out on the national stage,
first in the Republican primary, and then continuing into the general
election. And I think for a lot of people watching, the public and the
press, it was hard to turn away from. You haven`t seen somebody at that
high a level aiming for a job that`s the most important in the world who
behaves like that, who says what he says, who delights in mocking people,
attacking people. So, I think that`s pretty deeply embedded in his
And I think going forward, any effort to try to contain him, which I know
some in the White House and in the broader administration have been trying
to do is especially important when it comes to consequential decisions.
You know, as you just read this recent reporting, I think the goal might
well have been, psychologically, to really make Jeff Sessions, who is a
very proud man. I served with him in the Senate. Didn`t agree with him on
anything but I did serve with him – to make him just be more dependant on
pleasing the president. Whatever he could do delivering that speech about
DACA, only to have Trump a few days later say, hey, just kidding. We`re
going to do something that will keep these young strivers in our country.
It`s all part of his manipulation. That is who he is. That`s how he
So, I`m hoping that the people who have a mature view of the exercise of
power when it comes to something like North Korea, life or death, when it
comes to something that would be incredibly stupid, given North Korea,
pulling out of the Iran deal so we have a second nuclear crisis to contend
with, I`m hoping that on the really big issues, there is enough authority
to be able to restrain and contain the president. That`s what we all have
to hope because I think this president and some of the people around him
pose a clear and present danger to our country, domestically to our
institutions of democracy, our self-governance, our rule of law,
internationally in so many ways because of the unpredictability, then the
fact that there is no strategy plan. There is just a reactive, emotional,
visceral kind of behavior.
So, I can only hope and I think every American who thinks about this can
only hope that, you know, people who know better, who have experience and
who realize that, you know, this country of ours is really worth defending
and protecting will be able to prevent anything really bad from happening.
It`s a horrible thing to have to say about anybody in that office.
MADDOW: On the question of the challenge that this presidency and
president chose – posed (ph) for American norms, for the rule of law, I
want to ask you about the “lock her up” thing –
MADDOW: – which started off as sort of astonishing and became this
regular daily feature of the campaign, the president and his supporters,
you know, calling for your arrest and calling for you to be jailed. He`s
kept up his rallies as president and that is still a regular thing that
they chant when he mentions you derisively, as he always does.
Do you take that literally? Do you worry they might at some point try to
gin up a prosecution against you?
CLINTON: Well, I know there is nothing there, so I don`t take it
substantively as much of a worry.
But here`s what I do believe: I believe Trump admires authoritarians. He
doesn`t just like Putin. He wants to be like Putin. He wants to have that
kind of power that is largely unaccountable, unchecked.
And when I first heard that, especially at these rallies that, you know,
were exciting violence and insulting people and all the rest of it, I
thought it was bizarre, kind of, you know, really unbecoming of somebody
who`s running for president. Then we moved it into his convention and it
was being done from the platform and people were chanting it and screaming
it, I thought, wow, this is unlike anything I have ever read about or seen
in presidential conventions. Every kind of political barrier that should
have restrained this president and those urging him on was broken through.
And so, I don`t personally worry. I have no doubt that if he got into
serious political trouble, he`d try to gin something up, you know, about me
or President Obama. We are his two favorite targets.
But I worry that it is indicative of the kind of self-image that he has not
only of himself but of what the president should be able to do and that`s
why it`s really imperative that the Republicans in Congress rein that in.
That`s part of the reason I mentioned on the State Department, you know,
standing up to some of these very foolish plans that they have, why the
press has to hold him more accountable than it did during the campaign and
why the people around him have to be our first line of defense against him
doing something that could have serious repercussions.
MADDOW: Placing a lot of hope for the country in the wisdom of the people
who surround him.
CLINTON: Well, it`s not – we don`t have much else to place it on right
now. He is somebody who doesn`t listen and pursues his own interest as he
perceives them, and is very emotionally reactive.
So, on the small stuff, you know, they may not be able to stop him. They
may need to hold their fire until something is serious enough to intervene.
MADDOW: We`ll be back in just one moment with former Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton. Don`t go anywhere. Seriously.
MADDOW: We`re back with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
This week, two days ago, Vladimir Putin became the longest-serving Russian
leader since Stalin. The closest that Putin has come to a threat to his
grip on power was 2011 when elections in Russia did not go his way and his
party apparently had to rig that election so that he could stay in power
and there were huge protests against Putin in the streets as a result.
Secretary Clinton, I want to play you a little clip of this is your life.
This was you as secretary of state at the time of those troublesome Russian
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: We do have serious concerns about the conduct of the elections.
You know, the Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to
have their voices heard and their votes counted.
The preliminary report by the OSCE cites election day attempts to stop
ballot boxes, manipulate voter lists and other troubling practices. We
commend those Russian citizens who participated constructively in the
electoral process. And Russian voters deserve a full investigation of
electoral fraud and manipulation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was you speaking on behalf of the U.S. government.
MADDOW: Top diplomat taking Putin to ask for that rigged election. And
that apparently really made an impression on him. The intelligence
community says that, you`re confronting him over that election where he
came closest he`s ever come to losing his grip on power, that may be sort
of the origin story for why Putin has such a grudge against you and it may
have been his initial motivation for why he wanted to sabotage your
election or potentially sabotage your presidency as best he could.
Do you agree – do you agree with that assessment? Do you think the
intelligence community is right to look at it that way?
CLINTON: Well, I have a high regard for the intelligence community. I
worked with them for the last, you know, 15, 16 years in the Senate and
then in secretary of state times. I have no reason to doubt that that is
their conclusion based on much more evidence than I am privy to right now.
Here is my take on it: I think speaking on behalf of the United States
government at that time in 2011 really did infuriate him. Infuriated him
about the United States, which has been his principal motivating reason to
go after the country the way he has in this past election. The fact that I
was delivering it I think put a personal edge on it. The fact that I`m a
woman, something that, you know, is hard for him to deal with, as I write
in the book.
So, it was primarily about our country and where we stood as a nation. It
was about me and it was personal. And I think the intelligence community
calling it a grudge, maybe personalizes a little too much because it was
broader than that.
He wants to destabilize democracy. He wants to destabilize our democracy.
He wants to destabilize Europe, the European Union, NATO. He wants to do
everything he can to influence and intimidate the former Soviet Union
nations along his border, from the Baltics to Central Asia.
So, it`s much bigger than just me but I think he saw me as someone who
would stand up to him and would, you know, try to find a way to demonstrate
unequivocally that, you know, we were going to fulfill our NATO
responsibilities to those countries that have signed up, under whom we have
– with whom we have a mutual defense treaty and that we were going to
continue to speak out for human rights and democratic values. He just
doesn`t want to hear any of that.
And one of the reasons he was so attracted to supporting Trump and trying
to defeat me is because he knew that he could control Trump and he could
manipulate the Trump administration going forward – at least that was his
MADDOW: The Christopher Steele dossier –
CLINTON: Yes, yes.
MADDOW: – which is a controversial document for lots of reasons, quoting
from that, a lot of it has been proven now. One of the things the document
says is the Russian hope was that even if she won, meaning even if you won,
Clinton in power would be bogged down in working for internal
reconciliation in the United States rather than being able to focus on
foreign policy, which would damage Russia`s interests.
So, part of their motivation was that they expected you to win and they
thought they would interfere in the election to lay the groundwork for
trying to harm your presidency. Again, the U.S. intelligence echoed that,
came to the same solution, that Russian wanted to – yes, hurt your chances
in the election but also if you`d win, they thought they could undermine
your ability to govern as president.
Do you think the kind of tactics that I – that were reasonably effective
during the election against you, do you think they would have been
effective against your presidency? Do you think they could have also been
deployed in non-election year, in an ongoing way? Do you think that the
U.S. government could have combated those tactics if they wanted to if you
were running the government?
CLINTON: I absolutely do believe that.
You know, I thought about, what if the so-called shoe was on the other
CLINTON: Suppose I had won, a narrow victory in the Electoral College,
lost the popular vote, going in during our hyper partisan times as
president. I can tell you, Rachel, that if the intelligence community had
come to me in the Oval Office and laid out their evidence, much of which we
know but not all, I would have said, I want an independent commission
immediately establish, with subpoena power. We`re going to get to the
bottom of this, so that it never happens again. I would have stood up and
stood against it.
So, yes, the government right now could be doing more. I mean, look at
this administration for heaven`s (AUDIO GAP). I mean, transparency would
be the best way of undermining Putin.
We now know that they were sewing discord during the election with phony
groups on Facebook. They were running anti immigrant, anti-me, anti-
Hillary Clinton demonstrations. They were, you know, putting out all this
fake news, all these negative stories that were untrue to really divide
So, if your government were to say, you know what? We`re going to get to
the bottom of this. And we`re not – look, we may have our disagreements
among Americans, we`re not going to let the Russians come in and divide us.
And so, we`re going to make Facebook own up to everything. They just began
to own up. They have a long way to go before they get to where they need
to be, in my opinion.
Other tech companies, we`re going to go after these provocateurs, these
Russians posing as Americans, these content farms in Macedonia, these
thousand trolls, these tens of thousands of bots, because you know what?
We have every right to have a vigorous debate in America but we don`t want
it being interfered with and suborn by Putin and his allies.
So, I think if we had done that, and – you know, there would still be
some, you know, some naysayers, but we would bring the country together
around this. What`s the Trump administration doing? They have a phony
commission looking at voter suppression, which is not a problem and what
they are –
MADDOW: Looking at voter fraud.
CLINTON: Voter fraud, not a problem.
So, they want to suppress more votes and they want to suppress those votes,
particularly of African-Americans and young people, because they don`t
think they`ll vote for their kind of candidate.
So, this phony commission is trying to get all this voter data. We know
they`re in bed with big data companies like, you know, like Cambridge
Analytica and the like. What are they going to do with that? How are they
going to use it?
I am very concerned, a president who wanted to be a president of the
country would be investigating with the Russians did to us would be going
as far as possible to find out not just what they did to influence voters,
but what they did going into our voter rolls, going into the personal e-
mails of election officials.
I`m proud of Virginia for stopping to use the touch – you know, the
computer touch voting machines because they`re so vulnerable to hacking.
Everybody in every state should be asking themselves that, led by a
committed federal government. That`s not happening.
MADDOW: I know that you have spoken this week and you`ve written in the
book about the prospect that the Russians are – as you put it in the book
– that the Russians or their proxies may have – they had an usual, deep
knowledge and familiarity with our political scene and its players. The
timing of the disclosures of the documents they stole from the DNC, the
specific nature of the material that they promoted against you raises the
strong possibility that the Russians had gotten help from someone with
experience in American politics.
Obviously, there is a serious federal investigation led by the special
counsel into whether or not the Trump campaign was involved in the Russian
attack. You`ve been clear that you think there are reasons to be worried
that that was the case.
If it`s proven, if the Trump campaign did know this was happening, did
cooperate with it and did maybe participate in it, is that a criminal
matter? Should that – should people go to jail for that or is that
something that requires a political response or potentially something for
the Congress like impeachment?
CLINTON: Well, it`s too soon to know. Look, I think that laws may have
been broken. Campaign finance laws, for example. The federal agent
registration laws. I mean, there are specific laws that might well have
been broken and then, of course, obstruction of justice is a separate
But this will ultimately be decided even if some people are charged with
crimes in the political arena because Americans have to decide –
regardless of your party affiliation, do you want to condone the kind of
behavior that we have been learning about, which puts a political campaign
in the control of people who are either communicating with, maybe
coordinating with our foreign adversary? You have a chance to stand up and
say no in the 2018 midterm election, which ultimately will be the final
And if there are legitimate questions or charges to be made in the House on
impeachment or anything else, that is – it`s too soon to say if that`s
even a possibility.
But unless Americans are outraged, unless Americans of all political
persuasions say, you know what? I want to win a fair fight. You know, I`m
going to stand up and argue for tax cuts for the top 1 percent and I`m
going to take my argument to the people and somebody else says I`m going to
argue against it because it will just make inequality worse, that`s what we
should be arguing about.
But you shouldn`t be putting, not just one thumb, but tens and hundreds of
thumbs on the scale in favor of, you know, Putin. So, I think this will
have legal ramifications, but also ultimately political ones.
MADDOW: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will you please stay
one more moment?
MADDOW: We`ll be back with former Secretary Clinton talking about her book
“What Happened” right after this.
MADDOW: Welcome back.
My interview with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is now subject
to a brief interruption because of this important video of a sneezing
All right. So, the mom panda is in the corner, baby panda chilling right
in front of her, and then, and then baby has to sneeze. And mom – and mom
Here is a little loop of the mom reacting to the sneeze.
You have seen this before. I know. I know you`ve seen this before
because, statistically speaking, we all have. It been viewed over 200
Madam Secretary, one of the things that you deal with in a surprisingly
straightforward way in your new book is that people are obsessed with your
MADDOW: Everything from the deep thing you point out, which is that people
needed to be told again and again, why, why truly do you want to be
president, when nobody ever asked Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz that question,
exactly that same way. But, also, you know, the really human stuff.
In the book, you called it the panda principle –
MADDOW: – which is why we were visited by the sneezing panda. This is
what you write in the opening of chapter five in the book: What I ate, who
did my hair and makeup, what my mornings were like. It may seem strange,
but I get asked about these things constantly. Philippe Raines, who played
Trump in our debate prep sessions, has my favorite explanation why. He
calls it the “Panda Principle”.
Pandas just live their lives. They eat bamboo. They play with their kids.
But for some reason, people love watching pandas, hoping for something,
anything to happen.
So, you`re sort of marveling at people having that interest in you, but
then you also basically concede that you have now learned that that`s what
people want to know and chapter five of the book is literally, here`s what
time I get up. Yes, I hit the snooze button. Here is what I eat for
breakfast. Here`s where I exercise.
Yes, I love my husband. Here`s some mystery novels I like. Yes, I like
I mean, do you wish people didn`t want to know you in that way and do you
understand why they do?
CLINTON: Well, you know, I`ve stopped asking both questions because I`ve
concluded that it`s just a part of our lives now. And I think I was slow
to accept that and I believe that I`m pretty straightforward and pretty
ordinary in most of my human existence.
And so, I think, though, that people were a little bit intrigued, maybe
even obsessed because of when I burst into the public awareness. You know,
Bill was the first baby boomer president. I was the first professional
wife, first lady, and, you know, there was just this insatiable curiosity
and I have said many times before, I became like a, you know, a national
Rorschach test. You see what you want to see in you.
But I wanted in this book because it is true people ask me these questions
all the time and I thought well, you know what? I just want to embrace it
and go ahead and tell you what I have for breakfast and all the rest of it
and maybe it will give people a little bit of satisfaction that they know
me better than they thought they did.
MADDOW: Do you feel like it that sort of interest and almost that sort of
no-win situation about your privacy? Is something that is inherent – that
any woman who runs for president is going to face? Is it inherently gender
dynamic going forward? Did you face it more than anybody else will because
you were the one trying to break the glass ceiling twice?
CLINTON: I think there is a lot of truth to that. I think that just being
a woman at that high level of politics is still so unusual –
CLINTON: – and people are sorting it out.
I have some fascinating statistics in there about how there is a big
difference between Democrats and Republicans in terms of wanting to see a
woman be president. Lots of good research that I put into the book about
how difficult it is because as a man gets more professionally successful,
he becomes more likable. As a woman gets more professionally successful,
she becomes less likable.
I really wanted to pull the curtain back and talk about this because I hope
through my experience and the fact that I`m, you know, trying to have this
conversation with the American public, that people will begin to be more
self-aware, because also in that chapter I have on being a woman in
politics where I talk about endemic sexism and misogyny, I say, look, it`s
not just about me. There`s that, oh, I would have voted for another woman
but not this woman.
Well, I ran for the Senate. I was elected twice. I know, you know, how
people can get to know you and respect you and support you. But because we
never had a woman president, the barrier is so high. That glass ceiling is
And now that some of the potential 2020 candidates are starting to get
public attention, they are getting hit from both the left and the right,
and sometimes when it comes from the left, you`re not sure whether it`s a
Russian pretending to be an American from the left or not.
So, I want to raise the visibility of these issues so that if women run for
president in 2020 or 2024, whenever it might happen, you know, more
Americans will say, hey, you know, maybe I should actually listen to her
and see what she has to say rather than, oh, say, I don`t like her hair or
why is she wearing that color? You know, the kinds of things that get in
the way of giving women candidates the sort of serious consideration that
MADDOW: I hear your optimism about how that can get better.
CLINTON: I hope so.
MADDOW: By talking about it and naming it, you give people away to at
least discuss it and maybe combat it.
I also feel like the sexism that you faced as a political barrier in 2016
was considerably worse than the sexism you faced as a barrier in 2008. And
I know in 2016, you got further but I feel like what I saw directed as you
as a public figure was more vitriolic and frankly more rhetorically violent
than what I saw eight years earlier, which implies to me – I mean, maybe
that`s the general election versus the Democratic primary. But I like to
think that things get better over time, too, and I don`t see that as having
happened with you.
CLINTON: Well, but I think there were several different conditions that
had to be dealt with for the first time. The Internet was obviously up and
going but social media was not as unleashed in `08 as it was in 2016.
I ran against someone who demeaned women, degraded them, attacked them and
again, not just me but, you know, Miss Universe contestants and Republican
women who dared to run against them and interviewers who questioned him.
It was so rhetorically vile what he said about so many women and that kind
of lifted the top off of what had been much more restraint because I did
feel like in `08, there was a lot of it. It was out there.
But by the years that followed, I thought, OK, you know, people are coming
to grips with the fact that – you know, you don`t talk about women like
that. You may think it but you don`t talk about it anymore and you have to
at least try to give, you know, lip service to women being treated equally.
Trump threw all that out the window.
MADDOW: Do you think he changed the weather?
CLINTON: I think –
MADDOW: Do you think he changed what was possible in American politics?
CLINTON: I think he gave permission for people to be much more sexist and
misogynistic, which is much more generalized hatred of women. So – even
for me, I was taken aback by some of what he would say and the fact that
people would vote for him including women after the “Hollywood Access”
tape, it just had a different feel to it.
So, yes, I think he was in large measure the determinative factor that made
it so much worse in 2016.
MADDOW: Will you sit still for one more break?
MADDOW: And I will come back because I want to ask you a James Comey
question. I have a feeling you have something to say.
CLINTON: I might.
MADDOW: OK. All right. We`ll be right back with Hillary Clinton right
MADDOW: We`re back with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because
she wrote a book called “What Happened”. And among other things, that
gives me a reason to get you here to talk.
Thank you so much for doing this. I really appreciate it.
CLINTON: Glad to be here.
MADDOW: You have made no secret of your antipathy and frustration with
former FBI Director James Comey for his actions last year, immediately
before voting day. You spell it out in great detail in the book. We now
have a post election dynamic in which James Comey is the key witness in the
– in the part of the Russia investigation that has become a potential
obstruction of justice case against the president for firing him.
The president`s lawyers have made this very interesting case in recent days
that James Comey is an unreliable witness and, therefore, there`s no real
obstruction of justice case against the president because you can`t believe
a word that James Comey says.
Do you believe that James Comey is a reliable witness?
CLINTON: Yes. I do. And as I say in the book, you have to separate two
things. What he did to me in the e-mail investigation remains quite
mysterious to me. What his motives were. Why he came back at me again in
October which I do think was the proximate cause of my, you know, vote loss
and stopping my momentum.
So, I put in the book the very clear critique of how he behaved with
respect to me in the election. Keep that apart from the Russia
investigation. I mean, one of the mysteries about Comey is that he didn`t
tell anybody that there was an investigation going on of Trump, his
associates and the Russians because he said it was too close to the
MADDOW: But he was happy to talk about –
CLINTON: He was happy to talk about me and a lot of people say, well, he
thought you were going to win – whatever. I have no understanding of why
he did what he did.
But on Russia, I think that he is credible and that he has firsthand
information because of those conversations with the president. So, I
certainly think that he is a reliable witness and apparently has
contemporaneous notes that really memorialize what was said and how he
MADDOW: If you were president today, would he still be FBI director?
CLINTON: That`s a really good question. I don`t know the answer to that,
because once I wasn`t president, I didn`t think about it. I didn`t analyze
it at all. So, I don`t really know.
MADDOW: Last question for you. You have said that you are not running for
office ever again.
MADDOW: What do you want your public life to be like? Obviously, you have
a career in public service behind you. You have a life as a public
intellectual now, particularly with this book and the way that you tried to
approach this. What do you – what do you want in terms of your public
life from here on out?
CLINTON: Well, Rachel, I`m not going to leave politics, even though I`m
not going to be a candidate. I`ve started a group which I write about
called Onward Together aimed as supporting the new, young, grassroots
groups that have sprung up since the election.
There`s a really tremendous amount of energy out there. People who are
recruiting candidates, training candidates, supporting them, who are
teaching people about what to do at a town hall. I mean, all of the great
work that we have seen since the election my organization Onward Together
will be supporting. We will also support candidates and we will look for
opportunities to try to not only support candidates and individual
elections, but if there`s groups that are fighting the suppression of
voting, for example, we will come in and help them, as well.
So, on the political agenda, I`m going to be very active on that. I`m
working with Howard Dean. He`s an old friend of mine, and he and I are
having the best time interviewing these young people and getting all their
ideas and, of course, Howard has a million of his own ideas to share.
I`m also going to be a lot of not for profit work, primarily around women
and children, kind of the causes of my adult life. And I`ll be doing some
work with some universities, trying to, you know, spend time with young
people and find out what`s on their mind and, you know, speak out whenever
I think appropriate.
So, I see a really active future ahead of me and I`m excited about it.
MADDOW: That sounds like it might include talking on cable news every once
in a while.
CLINTON: Well, it might. Hey, you know, just saying. Just saying.
MADDOW: Hillary Clinton, the book is called “What Happened”. It`s a
pleasure to have you for this much time. I know you`re doing a ton of
interviews. I really appreciate you coming in tonight and spending this
much time here.
CLINTON: Thank you.
MADDOW: Good luck.
CLINTON: Thanks for what you`re doing.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Super happy to have had former secretary of state and presidential
candidate, Hillary Clinton, here for that long interview and when I read
you a long interview, everyone says, like, what was the takeaway from that?
May I suggest one takeaway? Which is something that she just surprised
with in this interview. And again, this was live, so it`s not like we did
this earlier and I`ve had time to reflect on it.
But those were very strong remarks that the secretary made about Facebook.
Sheryl Sandberg is somebody who get name-checked frequently in the book as
a friend of Secretary Clinton`s, but when she talked about the role of
Facebook in terms of the Russian intervention in our election and what they
should have to answer for in terms of the investigations, what the
investigators are needing to look at, the way Facebook was used, how they
may have allowed themselves to be used – those were very, very strong
remarks from the secretary and I didn`t necessarily expect those.
So, we will be watching – I mean, we`ll be watching in terms of response
from that, but one of the things that`s happened over the last week or so
is that there have now been three or four reports about things that have
happened on Facebook involving Russian-paid content, advertisement, Russian
fake accounts, on Facebook that didn`t just circulate information targeting
U.S. voters designed to affect U.S. voters` behavior in the election, but
that also tried to get Americans out protesting in the streets, out
participating in rallies, against Hillary Clinton, against immigrants,
against Muslims, for the secession for the state of Texas.
All of this stuff is emerging now, which is interesting to us who`d been
looking at what Russia did to try to influence our election, to try to hurt
Hillary Clinton`s chances, and as we discussed with the secretary, to
potentially hurt her presidency if she were elected.
The big unanswered question, though, about this stuff we are learning right
now is, why are we only learning this stuff right now? All of this stuff
happened last year. There`s been a ton of public information including
multiple intelligence community reports about American social media
companies being used by the Russians here. Until very, very recently, all
we had from Facebook on this was denials that any of it happened or that
any of it mattered. They`ve only now started to cop to it in a very small
level and they`re publicly resisting answering anything further about what
they did, basically claiming trade secrets, claiming that their own
algorithms and their operations preclude them from answering anybody else`s
Well, at this point, it`s a matter not just of international diplomacy,
it`s a matter of national security in terms of what Russia did and I think
the secretary`s comments tonight about Facebook – well, I`ll just say I
would like to underscore them.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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