"Why did she lose the election? Clinton’s staff has conducted autopsies that, she said, suggested that two of the most important factors were the plunder and release of her campaign emails and the last-minute announcement by the F.B.I. director, James Comey, that the investigation into her use of a private email server could be reopened.
So, I asked, when you heard Comey say recently that he had been investigating Trump’s Russia ties since July but couldn’t disclose it then because it’s inappropriate to discuss ongoing investigations, what did you throw at the television?
She savored the question. “Yes,” she said, smiling. “That was one of the high points of the last weeks.”
Clinton said she doesn’t know if there was collusion between the Trump team and the Kremlin, but she urged the formation of an independent commission to investigate. And she noted that whether or not there was collusion, there certainly was a concerted Russian effort to rig the American election.
Russia’s hacking of campaign emails “was a more effective theft even than Watergate,” she said, adding: “We aren’t going to let somebody sitting in the Kremlin, with 1,000 agents, with bots and trolls and everybody else, try to mix up in our election. We’ve got to end that, and we need to make sure that’s a bipartisan, American commitment.”
The issue Clinton seemed most passionate about was the one that has occupied much of her career, ever since she took a job out of Yale Law School with the Children’s Defense Fund: advocacy for women and children. She grew particularly animated in describing what she called Trump’s “targeting of women.”
As a candidate, both in 2008 and in 2016, Clinton was careful not to push too hard on feminist buttons for fear of antagonizing men — which, given the results, was a reasonable concern. But this is where her passions lie, and even as secretary of state traveling to an overseas capital, she would often visit a women’s shelter or an organization fighting human trafficking, dragging along bewildered diplomats and foreign officials to remind them that women’s rights are human rights.
In our conversation, she was scathing in denouncing Trump’s version of the “global gag rule,” which cuts off money for any health provider abroad that offers abortion counseling or promotes abortion rights, and Trump’s plan to defund the United Nations Population Fund, which battles maternal mortality and helps women get access to contraception.
Asked about the infamous photo of Republican men discussing women’s health, Clinton described her favorite internet meme: a group of dogs around a conference table, with the caption, “today’s meeting on feline health care.”