‘What Happened,’ according to Hillary Clinton (full interview)
Hillary Clinton criticized President Donald Trump on a number of fronts in a PBS NewsHour interview Friday, saying “he’s being played” by dictators like Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and also criticizing the president’s response to August violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Watch Hillary Clinton’s full interview with Judy Woodruff in the player above.
Clinton reflected on her loss to Mr. Trump and other political issues in her wide-ranging interview with PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, which comes as the former presidential candidate and secretary of state touts her new book about the 2016 election, “What Happened,” which was released this week.
Here are some highlights from our conversation.
President Trump’s national security team in “disarray.” Clinton said the White House has been “in disarray over national security from the very first day,” and that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hasn’t reached out to her for advice since taking over as the nation’s top diplomat, a position she once held.
Clinton said Trump’s “diplomatic pronouncements on Twitter” give “aid and comfort to people like Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin.”
“[Trump is] being played by these dictators in a way that undercuts our credibility and the capacity to come up with a diplomatic solution in that region” and around the world. “I’m deeply concerned, and I think in many ways the Trump presidency poses a clear and present danger to our country and to the world.”
Is President Trump racist? “I can’t tell you what’s in his heart,” Clinton told Woodruff when asked whether the president was racist, though she said “I believe that he has given a lot of encouragement and rhetorical support to the Ku Klux Klan,” and “I believe that he has not condemned the neo-Nazis and the self-proclaimed white supremacists in Charlottesville and other settings.”
(Here’s our own look at Mr. Trump’s history with race).
On Comey and her defeat. Clinton singles out former FBI Director James Comey in her book as part of the reason she lost the 2016 election. “What was really costly and what I believe was the proximate cause of my defeat was his Oct. 28 letter, which has never been adequately explained or defended,” she said. That letter to Congress said the FBI was reopening the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.
On getting a grip on sexism and misogyny in politics. Clinton said the United States has to “come to grips with the endemic sexism and misogyny” in politics as well other parts of American life, including the business and media worlds.
Clinton noted that she was often asked why she was running for president, whereas male 2016 candidates were rarely asked to explain why they wanted the Oval Office. “I didn’t hear Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz or Bernie Sanders asked that question,” Clinton said. It was “as though there was something hidden or so unusual about a woman stepping forward and saying, ‘you know I think I could be a good president, I hope you’ll support me.'”
The former First Lady, who devoted a chapter of her book to gender, said she wasn’t alone in facing sexism in politics. Clinton noted that Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have all spoken out about being treated differently because they were women.
Clinton’s candor in her book is surprising, syndicated columnist Mark Shields told NewsHour on Friday’s program; she’s more open and honest than she’s been previously when talking about her campaign.
“She does accept responsibility” for her loss, Shields said, “but doesn’t do it exclusively.”
Clinton’s institutionalism, particularly when describing what she called a White House national security team “in disarray,” shone through in her interview with Woodruff, New York Times columnist David Brooks added. “Let’s face it: This election was about anti-institutionalism,” so it’s not surprising voters put Trump in the White House, he said.
While Trump “clearly plays identity politics and white identity politics,” and race was a strong factor in 2016’s election, Brooks said he would be careful not to say Trump won the election because of race, as he thought Clinton came close to doing in her interview with Woodruff. The president “won for a lot of reasons,” Brooks said.
See Judy Woodruff’s extended interview with Hillary Clinton on Friday’s broadcast of the PBS NewsHour. Find more clips online, on Facebook, on Twitter and on Instagram.
Daniel Bush contributed reporting for this story.