Hillary is back; the Hillary who ought to be in the White House instead of the man our archaic electoral system gave us November 8, 2016.
The Hillary Clinton who is back, relaxed and at ease, was interviewed for more than an hour on a California stage Wednesday, telling the world in clear understandable language, what she perceives to have happened in her 2016 election loss.
I report on this interview because I want citizens like my grand daughters and my great grand daughters, to look with justified pride at this woman who broke the glass ceiling as the first female nominee for president from a major political party, and who won the popular election by almost 2.9 million votes.
She is back after taking a few months to reflect on the national train wreck which put Donald Trump in the White House.
The outcome of that train wreck, and the players who toyed with the mechanism of our constitutionally-mandated electoral system, will soon be examined through the courts and in the congress.
This process will hit max speed when former FBI Director James Comey is expected to testify June 8, before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Over the weeks and months ahead, we will discover how Russian operatives recruited and manipulated American accomplices in a nefarious scheme to betray their country.
“In the best of all possible worlds”, the election would be nullified. The nation would start over.
But as the elder George Bush might say, “not gonna happen”. There is nothing currently available in our system to make it happen, certainly not with this current Republican crowd in control of all three branches of the government.
What should result next is that Russia’s American accomplices will be exposed for what they did. And Hillary, whom I have known since we first met in the living room of the Arkansas governor’s mansion decades ago, has explained just how she believes the dastardly deed was done.
Listen up, Pilgrims, to the story as she lived it.
Hillary Clinton was a special guest this week at Code 2017, an event sponsored by Recode at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, May 30-June 1.
Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, co-founders of Recode, host an annual invitation-only Code Conference “to bring together a global community of the biggest names in the business, executive leaders and startups with bright futures for networking and in-depth conversations about the current and future impact of digital technology”.
After some opening banter that began a one hour-17 minute interview, with the former candidate, former Secretary of State, former Senator, and former First Lady, Clinton signaled it was time to get down to business.
Clinton utilized her decades of high-level political experience to speak the language of her audience.
She began by describing the findings in a declassified report by seventeen agencies of the U.S. Intelligence community that was made public in early January.
They concluded with high confidence that the Russians ran an extensive information war campaign against my campaign, to influence voters in the election.
How did they conduct this “information war campaign”? Her response:
They did it through paid advertising we think, they did it through false news sites, they did it through these thousand agents, they did it through machine learning, which you know, kept spewing out this stuff over and over again. The algorithms that they developed. So that was the conclusion. . . .I think it’s fair to ask, how did that actually influence the campaign? And how did they know what messages to deliver?
Who told them? Who were they coordinating with, or colluding with?
Because the Russians historically in the last couple of decades and then increasingly, you know, are launching cyber attacks, and they are stealing vast amounts of information, and a lot of the information they’ve stolen they’ve used for internal purposes, to affect markets, to affect the intelligence services, etc.
So this is different because they went public, and they were conveying this weaponized information and the content of it. . .
The Russians — in my opinion and based on the intel and the counterintel people I’ve talked to — could not have known how best to weaponize that information unless they had been guided. . . . by Americans and guided by people who had polling and data information.
Clinton offered an example of how coordination between the Russians and their American accomplices, worked. She pointed to the leak of the Hollywood Access tapes, which in earlier presidential elections. would have immediately ended the Trump campaign.
Within one hour of the tapes being leaked, the Russians — let’s say WikiLeaks, something — dumped the John Podesta emails. Now, if you’ve ever read the John Podesta emails, they are anodyne to boredom [laughter].”
John Podesta was campaign chair of the Hillary Clinton campaign. He is a long-term associate and close friend of the Clintons and was President Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff from 1998 until 2001.
Clinton describe the Podesta emails as “run-of-the-mill emails, especially run of the mill for a campaign”.
They were personal emails, which made them attractive to the media. Clinton speculates that the Podesta emails had been hacked and were being held for a propitious moment to release.
Since the Hollywood Access tapes, in which Trump bragged that he liked to “grab” female genitals (his word was harsher) as his form of greeting, had leaked, it was the right time for the Podesta tapes to surface.
Clinton explained how she saw what happened next:
Within one hour they dumped them, and then they began to weaponize them. And they began to have some of their allies within the internet world, like Infowars, take out pieces and begin to say the most outrageous, outlandish, absurd lies you could imagine.
Clinton described how an enemy could prepare for future developments: “They had to . . . have a plan and they had to be given the go-ahead, saying, Okay, this could be the end of the Trump campaign, dump [the Podesta emails] now. And then let’s do everything we can to weaponize it.”
And we know it hurt us. Because as I explain in my book, you know, the Comey letter, which was, now we know, partly based on a false memo from the Russians. It was a classic piece of Russian disinformation, which Russians call kompromat [compromising material used to discredit rivals in politics or business], So, for whatever reason, and I speculate, but I can’t look inside the guy’s mind [Comey’s], you know, he dumps that on me on October 28th, and I immediately start falling.
But what was really interesting, since the mainstream media covered that, as I say like Pearl Harbor, front pages everywhere, huge type, etc. And all of the Trump people go around screaming, “Lock her up, lock her up,” and all of that.
At the same time, the biggest Google searches were not for Comey, because that information was just lying out there, it was for WikiLeaks. And so voters who are being targeted with all of this false information are genuinely trying to make up their minds.
The “lightly-edited” transcript of Clinton’s appearance at the Recode conference on May 31 is available here.
And there you have it, your homework to prepare for the summer-long–or longer–examination of how weaponized information in our digital age is targeted to gain media attention, create public distress, and above all, affect election results.