Russian cyberattacks against Hillary Clinton’s campaign during the presidential election constitute an “attack against our country,” the Democratic candidate said in her first public remarks since last week’s reports that the CIA concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to sway the election in Donald Trump’s favor.
“This is about the integrity of our democracy and the security of our nation,” Clinton said to a group of campaign donors in Manhattan Thursday night, according to audio of her remarks obtained by The New York Times. “This is not just an attack on me and my campaign.”
Clinton’s comments follow reports that the CIA concluded that Russia orchestrated the hacking and leaking of emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee specifically to influence the U.S. election.
President Obama seemed to confirm at least some of these reports in an interview with NPR Thursday. “There are still a whole range of assessments taking place among the [intelligence] agencies,” he said. But “what the Russian hack had done was create more problems for the Clinton campaign than it had for the Trump campaign.”
Trump has dismissed these reports as unsubstantiated and the gripes of sore losers. Podesta, however, wrote in The Washington Post Thursday that “the administration should brief members of the Electoral College on the extent and manner of Russia’s influence in our election before they vote on Dec. 19.”
While partisan politics may be at play, evidence that Russia or Russia-affiliated hackers had a hand in the email hacks has accumulated in the weeks since the election. Russia, however, has vehemently denied any involvement.
In her remarks, Clinton claimed that Putin had a “personal beef” with her after she made comments in 2011 that Russia’s parliamentary elections were rigged. “Putin publicly blamed me for the outpouring of outrage by his own people, and that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this election,” she said.
“Make no mistake, as the press is finally catching up to the facts, which we desperately tried to present to them during the last months of the campaign,” she continued, casting aspersions on the political media.
Published by WikiLeaks during the general election campaign, the hacked emails became a regular source of embarrassment and controversy for the Clinton campaign. They showed Clinton Foundation donors had access to high-ranking members of the State Department and included excerpts from private speeches Clinton made to the ultra-wealthy in which she said she dreamed of “open borders” and a “hemispheric common market.”
The comments were at odds with the anti-globalization mood of many in the country and could have hurt her campaign in some of the swing states where the vote ultimately broke against her.