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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 9/14/17 Hillary Clinton interview

Guests: Hillary Clinton

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 here.


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 are consequences.

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 press briefings.

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 plan.

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 is happening.

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 house --


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 Democrat.

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 surprise.

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 listen.

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 character.

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 behaves.

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 elections.



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.


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 calculations.

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 foot.


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 people.

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 offense.

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 decision.

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 panda.

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 reacts.

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 million times.

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 human nature.


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 hot sauce.

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 so hard.

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 we deserve.

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 after this.


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 election.

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 responded.

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 questions.

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.


Good evening, Lawrence.



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