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Clinton: Russia Likely Had American Help to 'Weaponize' Campaign Leaks

A candid Hillary Clinton opened up Wednesday about the confluence of factors she believes cost her the 2016 presidential election.
Image: Hillary Clinton at Recode Conference
Hillary Clinton speaks at Recode Conference at the Terranea Resort on Wednesday in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.Courtesy: re/code

Hillary Clinton provided a lengthy and in-depth deconstruction Wednesday about the confluence of factors she believes cost her the 2016 presidential election, arguing that some in the United States must have helped Russians "weaponize" information to use against her.

The former Democratic nominee stopped short of saying President Donald Trump or one of his associates colluded with Moscow, but she said there are plenty of unanswered questions that suggest coordination was possible.

"The Russians, in my opinion, and based on the intel and counterintel people I've talked to, could not have known how best to weaponize that information unless they had been guided," Clinton said during an appearance at the Recode conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

"Guided by Americans," she added.

Clinton pointed to the spread of fake news about the campaign, Wikileaks dumps of emails from one of her top advisers, a defunct data operation at the Democratic National Committee and the capabilities of Russian government as factors that created the environment that led to Trump's surprise victory last November.

Clinton cited Wikileaks' release of adviser John Podesta's emails just an hour after Trump's controversial "Access Hollywood" tape leaked as an example of how forces within the United States may have played a role in guiding the Russians.

And while Clinton has also blamed former FBI Director James Comey's letter announcing that he was reopening the case into Clinton's emails as a reason she dipped in the polls ahead of Election Day, she also said the top Google search in some key battleground states was "Wikileaks" as voting neared.

"This was the biggest nothing-burger ever," Clinton said of the email investigation. "It was a mistake, I've said it was a mistake and, obviously, if I could turn the clock back, I wouldn't have done it in the first place. But the way that it was used was very damaging."

And though she said she has no plans to run again, Clinton took plenty of swipes at her former rival on Wednesday, including a shot at his early morning Twitter message that ended with "covfefe."

The tweet — which read "Despite the constant negative press covfefe" — was deleted, but the president later tweeted: "Who can figure out the true meaning of 'covfefe' ??? Enjoy!"

"I thought it was a hidden message to the Russians," Clinton joked.

Trump responded Wednesday night on Twitter, saying: "Crooked Hillary Clinton now blames everybody but herself, refuses to say she was a terrible candidate. Hits Facebook & even Dems & DNC."

To which Clinton's account tweeted Wednesday night: "People in covfefe houses shouldn't throw covfefe."