Hillary Clinton slammed President Donald Trump’s foreign policy Friday, saying his national security team is in “disarray” and that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hasn’t reached out to her for advice since taking over as the nation’s top diplomat.
“I don’t know who [Tillerson] has reached out to. He certainly hasn’t reached out to me,” Clinton, who led the State Department in President Barack Obama’s first term, told PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff. It’s common practice in Washington for new cabinet officials to reach out to predecessors for advice about their new jobs.
Clinton singled out Mr. Trump’s approach to North Korea, which fired a missile over Japan Friday morning, the latest in a series of recent threats, including North Korea’s sixth nuclear test earlier this month, that has raised alarms across the region. And she criticized Trump for making “diplomatic pronouncements on Twitter” and praising foreign adversaries like North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“He’s 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, Clinton said of Trump. “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.”
The United States and its allies have struggled for years to slow North Korea’s nuclear program, with little success. But Clinton said there were several options to deter North Korea and protect U.S. allies in the region.
They include a “full court diplomatic effort,” and strengthening Japan and South Korea’s missile defense systems, Clinton said, a move that could encourage China to put pressure on North Korea to rein in its behavior. For its part, China has starkly criticized the U.S. deployment of some missile defense systems to South Korea.
Clinton said Tillerson has been “largely invisible excepting for his obsession with cutting the budget at the State Department.” Tillerson has defended proposed cuts to the State Department included in the White House’s proposed budget, saying that his goal is to make the department run more efficiently while prioritizing hard power and that some cuts could be offset by private philanthropy.
Defense Secretary James Mattis, Clinton added, has filled the leadership vacuum on both defense and diplomatic issues for Trump, who was not well-versed on foreign policy when he entered office and surrounded himself largely with Washington outsiders.
Mattis “often acts like both secretary of defense and secretary of state because there’s a big void to fill there,” Clinton said.
Clinton also went after the Trump administration’s overall approach to national security, an issue she highlighted in the presidential election when she called out Trump’s inexperience on foreign policy.
Trump fired his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, less than one month after taking office, after news surfaced that Flynn — who advised the Trump campaign — had lied about his contacts with Russian officials.
The White House “has been in disarray over national security from the very first day,” Clinton said.
Clinton is back in the news this week following the publication of a new memoir, “What Happened,” where she explains why she thinks she lost the 2016 election.
In the book, Clinton admits to making several mistakes in the run up to the race and then during the campaign, including using private email as secretary of state and making paid speeches to Wall Street banks.
But Clinton also blamed other forces for her loss, including sexism among many voters, former FBI Director James Comey’s role in the race, and media coverage of the campaign that she argued focused too much on her private email server, instead of substantive policy issues.
See Judy Woodruff’s extended interview with Hillary Clinton on Friday’s broadcast, and more from the conversation online here.