Former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said in Berlin on Tuesday it is essential for Democrats to oust Donald Trump in November, but shied away from saying who she would favour to win.
She also sidestepped a chance to apologise for taking campaign contributions from disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein in 2016, saying she was not alone among Democrats in accepting donations from him.
Clinton spoke at the Berlinale film festival, where a new documentary about her, which is to be serialised on American and European television, was shown. The documentary’s director, Nanette Burstein, said there was no question, no matter how awkward, she had refrained from asking Clinton, whom she acknowledged is a polarising figure in American politics.
“This was not about creating a puff piece or hagiography,” Burstein said of her film, which is being shown in a four-hour version. “We wanted to show flaws and all.”
Clinton was given the opportunity twice to say who she might favour in the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination to defeat Trump in November, but both times her answer was that the most important goal was to defeat Donald Trump.
“I think it’s imperative that we retire the incumbent,” she said, declining to be drawn on which of the remaining contenders in the primary contest she preferred.
She also made no excuses for having accepted money for her 2016 presidential campaign from Weinstein. The former leading light of the independent film industry was convicted in New York on Monday of two sex felony crimes.
“He contributed to Barack Obama’s campaign and John Kerry’s campaign and Al Gore’s campaign and everybody’s campaign,” Clinton said. “I don’t know whether that should chill anyone else from contributing to political campaigns but it certainly should end the kind of behaviour he was just convicted for.”
Clinton said she is convinced that Russian leader Vladimir Putin knew she would be a more formidable adversary than Trump in the White House, and had interceded in 2016 to help defeat her.
“I think he knew exactly who I was and what I would do to stand up for freedom and decency and to create a better relationship among the Western democracies, particularly across the Atlantic to defend Europe, to defend NATO,” Clinton said.
“So when he ordered his intelligence service to go after me and say anything negative they could possibly say — and we had intercepts of quotes from the generals to their operatives in the intelligence agencies to do just that — it wasn’t because he was fooled, or didn’t understand me, it was because he wanted to defeat me.”
She said it was essential for democracies like Germany and the United States to resist such interference.
“We are at a stage now right now where we better get clear in democracies like yours and mine that it’s the people of our country choosing our leaders, not foreign intervention or disinformation on social media and propaganda and stolen materials as has happened in your Bundestag and elsewhere.
“Because we could still go whatever political direction we choose but it should be our choice. And that means we’ve got to face squarely what has happened and is still happening in our country and elsewhere when it comes to democratic governance.”
By Michael Roddy