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Hillary Clinton Blames 2016 Loss on Comey, Press, Russia — and Sexism — While Speaking to Women-Only Club

Hillary Clinton
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Washington, DC

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton spoke to an organization under investigation for gender discrimination on Tuesday night, as she continued to lay blame on many others for her campaign loss.

The Wing is currently under investigation by the New York City Commission on Human Rights for not allowing men into their “coworking space and social club,” according to CNBC.

Wing co-founder Audrey Gelman and podcast co-host Aminatou Sow asked Clinton questions in front of an audience at The Wing SoHo that was live-streamed to the group’s website. The mood was extremely supportive of Clinton and critical of the current presidential administration, as the two hosts lobbed friendly questions at Clinton.

Clinton spent much of her time listing those she blamed for her 2016 defeat.

Asked whether the #MeToo movement would have happened by now if she had been elected, Clinton said yes and claimed that her loss accelerated the wave that was already coming.

She then lamented how hard it is to watch Donald Trump be President, but that she admires the “resistance.” Clinton talked about trying to keep herself aligned with what will make a difference, the midterm elections, a “political action that reigns in this administration.” She said without that, you haven’t “seen the bottom yet.”

“You can march from now til doomsday, but if you don’t elect people who agree with you, and defeat people who don’t, nothing will change,” said Clinton.

The former Secretary of State said, “It’s an absolute tragedy,” when asked about the State Department today. She said that the department “has been decimated” under former Secretary Rex Tillerson, adding that there was no longer anyone who speaks the language of North Korea to deal with that country and no one willing to trying to stop Russian meddling in U.S. elections who speaks Russian. She suggested that Trump does not care “that we don’t have Russian speakers, or Korea speakers, or experienced diplomats who know the games that the other side are going to play when you meet.”

Sow asked about the “lock her up” chants and “karmic justice” of General Flynn’s current situation. The crowd cheered and hollered in response to the question. Clinton laughed and replied, “I did go to India.” She then said she was stunned, and that the Russians “paid for actors or Russian agents, personnel to dress up in those very attractive jail outfits and go around in a mock jail where people could yell ‘lock her up.’” Clinton then stated there there were never any facts behind the calls. She said she didn’t want anyone to go through being “lied about persistently” and “vilified” like she has been. She then referred to the chapter of her book What Happened titled, “Being a Woman in Politics,” stating that “women are often much more vilified than men.”

Clinton said that much of the criticism of her “were right out of ancient history” before referencing the photo of Kathy Griffin holding up the severed head of Donald Trump when commenting that there were people selling images of Trump holding up her head at the Republican National Convention.

Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale has refuted Clinton’s claim that there was such merchandise at the RNC convention, stating that he inspected anti-Clinton merchandise there. This is not the first time Clinton has made the claim, one a Huffington Post reporter previously was unable to verify Clinton’s claim as of last September.

Clinton said some of the criticism of her was done on the dark web and some, like “lock her up” was front and center.

“Fox News is always trying to impeach me, so somebody needs to tell them that that doesn’t apply to a private citizen,” Clinton joked.

Gelman noted Clinton’s popular vote win and asked whether the electoral college should be abolished. Clinton painted it as outdated, calling it “a real anachronism.” She said that the electoral college “does an injustice to the idea of one person one vote,” pointing to it as a “part of the slavery compromise back in the day where small states with much less population than big states … would be able to have their votes counted in a much more impactful way than if it were just a popular election.” She then suggested support for work to “change the directions that electors are given,” to vote for the person who got the most votes in the country instead of the most votes in their state.

Sow mentioned that James Comey has a book coming out and asked Clinton if she had ever spoken to him and “If not, what questions should we still be asking about what role he played in the election.

Clinton said she’s never met Comey – or kissed him – a comment that elicited laughter from the audience. She said that when the “Comey letter hit” it was “the single event” that hurt her with Pennsylvania voters.

She them blamed the Access Hollywood tape news for overtaking media coverage of the CIA director and Director of National Intelligence, on October 7, stating that Russia was interfering in the 2016 election. She then blamed Wikileaks leaking DNC emails for further dominating media coverage instead of the Russia interference. She then brought up the Pizza-gate scandal. She used that to segue into talking about Trump bringing up Wikileaks on the campaign trail and skewing the information there into “bizarre interpretations.”

She blamed Comey, Wikileaks, messages on Facebook and other places for her loss, as well, and claimed that the Trump campaign sought to turn off women, youth, and black voters. Clinton said there was real work to be done to “Police the information being sent to” voters and citizens.

“I’ve dealt with Putin, I’ve negotiated with Putin,” said Clinton, adding that “he would like to sow discord and divisiveness within the United States.” She said that Putin had a number of reasons to prefer Trump to herself. She then pointed to a parliamentary election in Russia, saying  that Russians deserve free and fair elections. She said the streets in Moscow and other cities were filled with people who believed Russia could do better and that Putin blamed her for people coming out to demonstrate – “a classic Putin tactic”– finding someone to blame.

Clinton also blamed Putin’s misogyny.

She said that Trump is now “parroting” what Putin says. She then said that Russia left a trail with the chemical attack in the U.K. to push the limits. She said Trump refused to implement suggested sanctions and has only taken “half-measures.”

Despite Clinton’s claim, the Trump administration responded to the attack in the U.K. by expelling 60 Russian diplomats from the U.S. that the administration said were really intelligence agents using diplomacy as a cover. The move was coordinated with other countries, leading to around 150 Russian diplomats being expelled from at least 20 countries around the world.

Sow noted that Mark Halperin, Charlie Rose, and Glenn Thrush covered Hillary Clinton, and each now stands accused of sexual misconduct;  what did Clinton think of that?

Clinton repeatedly commented that it was believed that she was going to win and that this complicated things, and there was “no price to pay” for being very critical. She added that she hoped there was a lesson learned from the fact that she didn’t win, essentially blaming these individuals for her loss as well. She also blamed their inability to cover a “reality tv campaign.” She said she was criticized for confronting Trump with “facts.”

She blamed the mainstream press for thinking she was going to win, thus not bringing more attention to her “sounding the alarm” over Trump obtaining control over nuclear weapons.

She said that in the first debate Trump criticized her for “preparing for the debate.” She then said that she was criticized for her response and for “preparing.”

Clinton said the press didn’t know how to cover the election and reverted to criticizing her, and that people need to demand that the press “check their sexism and their misogyny” in their treatment of women and men running for office.

Gleman asked Clinton what her legacy is, but before she could answer, Gelman said that “this” is part Clinton’s legacy as she gestured toward the audience.

Clinton pointed to her 1995 “transformational” Beijing speech on women’s rights as her public, political life legacy and being the first woman nominated by a major party for President.

She said sometimes the struggle gets to be too much, that “there’s still so much in society that just batters you,” and that she hopes that women will be supported in places like the Wing. She said she hoped that her “persistence” and “resilience” will “give people the courage to keep going.” She called it the “best form of revenge by making it clear you are not going to be stopped, you’re not going to be disrespected, you’re not going to be undermined, you’re gonna be who you intend to be, and if that’s some small part of my legacy, then I will be very, very happy and grateful.”

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 

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