Hillary Clinton was not entirely serious last month when she suggested to Rachel Maddow that 2020 Democratic candidates should invite the Chinese to hack in to the IRS and release Trump’s taxes. But it’s an interesting hypothetical.
MADDOW: And in terms of flushing out that factual record about what actually happened, including what happened with the Russian attack in 2016 –
CLINTON: Yes, right.
MADDOW: – I wonder as you read the Mueller report, at least the parts of it that we can read, did you learn new things about what happened to you and your campaign in 2016 that you didn`t know before reading it?
CLINTON: I learned more, and I learned more detail.
CLINTON: But here`s the important thing to me. What I learned is that the Russians were successful. I don`t think there is any way to read that report and not conclude they accomplished what they set out to do. They had an objective to sow discord and divisiveness within our society at large, and to help Donald Trump. And they succeeded.
So let`s move our vision forward and say to yourself if you`re in the Kremlin, you`re Vladimir Putin who I`ve sat across. I understand his goal is to weaken America. I know that. He doesn`t like me because I stood up for America. I get it.
So if you`re sitting there and you`re saying this worked really well, Trump just foments divisiveness in America. He is helping to tear the country apart. People are so upset. What are we going to do to help him this time? How do we best accomplish that?
And because we have no real follow-up, and one of the things that concerned me in the Mueller report is when it`s written that they didn`t investigate whether or not the Russian active measures actually changed votes or affect (AUDIO GAP) because they assumed someone else was doing that. They assumed the FBI was doing that.
And then we learned that the former secretary of the Department of Homeland (AUDIO GAP) ordered not to talk about election interference in front of Trump. And then we learn that there is no concerted effort going on anywhere in our government to try to understand why it means that, for example, at least one county in Florida was breached, but not only that, the network of election machinery in one area. What does all that mean?
If you`re sitting in a secretary of state`s office in some state or in a county election commission, what are you supposed to do?
And I`ll tell you, Rachel, I met with most of the candidates who are running this time, and answered their questions. And I always tell them, you know, you can run the best campaign. You can be the person who gets the nomination, but unless we know how to protect our election from what happened before and what could happen again, because there is greater sophistication about it, you could lose.
And I don`t mean it to scare anybody, but I do want every candidate to understand that this remains a threat.
MADDOW: That they could lose at the hands of a foreign power, not that they could lose fair and square.
CLINTON: That`s right, that it wasn`t on the level. It wasn`t on a level in 2016. It could be once again (AUDIO GAP) really understood as (AUDIO GAP) to.
And I think the Mueller report didn`t go there. That wasn`t what they thought their charge was. And since there is no, you know, like 9/11 Commission to figure out what it is that happened. So how we prevent should be the priority of everyone.
I worry a lot that there`s a greater sophistication. They`ve learned some things that they now are going to deploy against us. And us means the country, not just Democrats.
MADDOW: The cyber world as a landscape for warfare and as a landscape for intelligence operations like the one that we saw that targeted you in 2016, military intelligence operation designed to make sure that you wouldn`t be president and that if you were, your presidency would be hampered.
That as the landscape of intercontinental battle –
MADDOW: – is overwhelming (AUDIO GAP) imagine myself like in a leadership role or in some sort of policy advisory role (AUDIO GAP) should do to stop that from happening. It feels both too big and too amorphous to hold on to.
MADDOW: But, I mean, as somebody who has confronted these things in a leadership position and somebody whose been on the sharp end of this as a target, do you feel like if the U.S. government really cared and was motivated and wasn`t intending to stop this from happening, there are things that we could do, we could be effective, we could stop this, and we`re just not choosing those policy options?
CLINTON: Absolutely. And we have evidence of that.
On Election Day in 2018, we know that our government used cyber tools to shut down a lot of the sites that they feared could be interfering. So, number one, that tells us they know. (AUDIO GAP) two, they took action to stop them.
I think that`s just literally the tip of the spear, though. I think there is so much more that could and should be done.
And, you know, there are a lot of people. You can read them online. You can read their academic work. They have all kinds of ideas about what to do to protect our systems.
The Republicans in the Senate wouldn`t at all go forward with some of the bipartisan legislation that was meant to secure our elections under orders from the White House.
Now, why is that? Well, because they think it helped them. And the Republicans look at the Trump White House and say, well, you know, the Russians probably did help them, you know, just whatever extent we may not yet know, so we`re not going to go there. We`re going to do what they tell us.
Imagine, Rachel, that you had one of the Democratic nominees for 2020 on your show, and that person said, you know, the only other adversary of ours who is anywhere near as good as the Russians is China. So, why should Russia have all the fun? And since Russia is clearly backing Republicans, why don`t we ask China to back us.
MADDOW: I hereby tonight ask China –
CLINTON: That`s right. And not only that, China, if you`re listening, why don`t you get Trump`s tax returns. I`m sure our media would richly reward you.
Now according to the Mueller report, that is not conspiracy because it`s done right out in the open.
So, if after this hypothetical Democratic candidate says this on your show, within hours, all of a sudden, the IRS offices are bombarded with incredibly sophisticated cyber tools looking for Trump`s tax returns, and then extracts and them and then passes them to whatever the new WikiLeaks happens to be and they start being unraveled and disclosed – nothing wrong with that.
I mean, if you`re going let Russia get away with what they did and are still doing according to Christopher Wray, the current FBI director, who said that last week, they`re in our election systems. We`re worried about 2020, he said.
So, hey, let`s have a great power contest, and let`s get the Chinese in on the side of somebody else. Just saying that shows how absurd the situation we find ourselves in.
MADDOW: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 2016 presidential nominee.
We`ll be right back with Secretary Clinton right after this.