Hillary takes a step back on collusion: 'There's a lot of smoke'

In an appearance on ABC’s The View Wednesday, Hillary Clinton was more circumspect in describing the possibility of Trump campaign collusion with Russia than she was a day before. On Tuesday in an interview published by USA Today, Clinton said “I’m convinced of it” when asked about collusion. Today, Clinton said, “There’s a lot of smoke and whether or not there’s fire, we need to figure it out.”

Asked if President Trump would remain in office for his full term, Hillary replied, “I don’t know and I don’t think anybody does know.” She continued, “I think that there is a lot to investigate and I’m personally very grateful that somebody of the stature of Robert Mueller would be there conducting this investigation.”

Hillary then resorted to suggesting collusion happened without saying outright she believed it. “There’s just too many connections to be called just coincidences. There just are,” Clinton said. “You know some of it is financial entanglements and some of it is hunting for negative information about me and some of it is calling people and trying to hide the connections and the meetings and the calls and all of it,” she said.

“There’s a lot of smoke and whether or not there’s fire, we need to figure it out,” Clinton concluded.

What’s missing from all of this is the apparent confidence in the outcome which Hillary expressed Tuesday when she said she was “convinced” it happened. As I wrote yesterday, there is no proof on which to base such a claim at this point. Unless Clinton wants to reveal a back-channel source of information, she’s just guessing. And that doesn’t seem like a terribly responsible thing to do about such an important issue.

Hillary goes on to say that even putting the question of collusion aside, it’s clear Russia wanted to influence the election. “Whether or not they had willing or unwitting help from the Trump team, they interfered and they did so to help him and hurt me and they did so to destabilize our democracy and they have not stopped,” Clinton said.

Let’s slow down a bit here. Willing help from the Trump team to Russia would be the kind of collusion Hillary just finished saying hasn’t been proven. Then she offers another category, “unwitting help,” i.e. help that someone didn’t offer intentionally. But what does that mean in this case? The Trump team was trying to win the election. So in some sense, Hillary’s “unwitting help” formulation could apply to the entire Trump campaign, i.e. their efforts unwittingly helped Russian efforts to defeat Hillary.

Maybe Hillary has a more specific idea in mind but as presented here the idea is so broad as to be meaningless. Either the Trump campaign willing helped Russia, as Hillary and Democrats have been suggesting for months, or they didn’t. And as Hillary admits she doesn’t know which is the case.

Here’s the portion of the interview in which Hillary discusses Russia. If you stick with this clip she also talks about her marriage to Bill and why she stood by her man.

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David Strom 12:01 PM on October 07, 2022