With Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump doubling down on their efforts in the all-important state of Ohio, Clinton granted the press an extremely rare press conference and answered their questions for 25 minutes. The last time she made herself available to the press for questions was this past December.
In addition to answering questions about the never-ending email debacle, the Clinton Foundation, and her own health, she expressed concern that Russia was interfering in the United States’ election process in an effort to get Trump elected, saying:
‘The fact that our intelligence professionals are now studying this and taking it seriously raises some grave questions about potential Russian interference with our electoral process.’
She emphasized that everyone, Democrats and Republicans alike, should be worried about Russia’s interest in American politics and noted this is uncharted territory in the long history of America’s election process.
‘We are facing a very serious concern. We’ve never had a foreign adversarial power be already involved in our electoral process . . . We’ve never had the nominee of one of our major parties urging the Russians to hack more.’
Indeed, Trump did encourage Russia to hack Clinton back in July saying, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.” After intense scrutiny, Trump claimed he was only joking and was being sarcastic. When asked if she thought Russia was trying to help Trump, she answered:
‘I often quote a great saying that I learned from living in Arkansas for many years: “If you find a turtle on a fence-post it didn’t get there by itself.”‘
She also noted the coincidental timing of Russia’s increased interest in the digital activity of Clinton, her campaign, and the Democratic National Committee, saying, “I think it’s quite intriguing that this activity has happened around the time Trump became the nominee.”
Though Trump may joke about Russia’s delving into American cyber territory, Clinton expressed it was no laughing matter. After the group ThreatConnect uncovered the Russian connection to the DNC email hack and The New York Times revealed former Trump adviser and campaign manager Paul Manafort’s connection to Russia, U.S. agencies are now taking the possibility of Russian interference seriously. Clinton’s ease in tying Putin to the cyber attacks is much more bold than Obama’s, who has not named Russia specifically, despite the evidence. The Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty reported Clinton scrutinized Putin more harshly saying:
‘She called a Russian intrusion into the U.S. voting system “almost unthinkable,” and said that Putin, who recently denied the Kremlin was involved in the hacking though he thought the release of the Democratic e-mails was a “public service,” appears “quite satisfied with himself.”‘
Clinton’s “aggressive stance” on Russia also comes after over a month of staying “out of sight,” fundraising in Los Angeles and the Hamptons with the wealthy and influential. It may serve as an assurance to unsure voters that she is in fighting spirit — as Trump continually criticizes her health — and that she is more than capable of handling running the country.
With the 2016 presidential election sounding more and more like a conspiracy-theory-laced rant written by a skinny pale man who calls himself Rusty Shackleford, the fact remains that both Trump and Clinton alike are now hurling conspiracy theories at each other. Clinton now sees Trump’s email conspiracy theory and raises it with her Russian connection conspiracy theory. With both having crossed the border into conspiracy town, we can only wait eagerly for what will happen next.
Featured image via Getty/Justin Sullivan.