Hillary Clinton launched an open attack on Russia in the presidential debate on Sunday, saying Vladimir Putin wants Trump to win and accusing the regime of ‘war crimes’ in Syria.
Clinton went on the offensive during the combative head-to-head showdown, apparently riled after she fell victim to leaks which she attributed to Russian hackers.
In some of her strongest words yet aimed at Russian President Putin, Clinton rebuked the country for its bombing of Aleppo, home to some 250,000 people.
‘There is a determined effort by the Russian air force to destroy Aleppo in order to eliminate the last of the Syrian rebels who are really holding out against the Assad regime,’ she told the crowd.
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Clinton attacked Russia at the presidential debate, in some of her strongest words yet to the Putin regime
Trump derided her statements as mere posturing: ‘She talks tough about Russia but our nuclear program has fallen way behind,’ he said
‘Russia hasn’t paid any attention to ISIS. They’re interested in keeping Assad in power,’ she went on.
‘I do support the effort to investigate for crimes – war crimes – committed by the Syrians and the Russians, and try to hold them accountable,’ she told the crowd.
She also alleged that Russia wanted to see Trump in power rather than her.
‘But I want to emphasize that what is at stake here is the ambitions and the aggressiveness of Russia,’ she said.
‘Russia has decided that it’s all in in Syria, and they’ve also decided who they want to see become president of the United States too – and it’s not me.’
The FBI said in July that it was looking into the hacking of the Democratic National Committee computer system, after WikiLeaks published nearly 20,000 internal emails on the eve of the party’s convention.
At the debate the subject of Russian hacks also came up in a separate voter question about a WikiLeaks document published Friday, which showed that Clinton allegedly said in a Wall Street speech that ‘you need both a public and a private position on certain issues.’
Clinton, while appearing to confirm that the document was genuine, went on to blame the leak on Russian meddling, in what was unusually strong wording for the former Secretary of State.
‘We have never, in the history of our country, been in a situation where an adversary, a foreign power, is working so hard to influence the outcome of the election,’ she told the crowd.
Clinton said the leaked speech remarks were in the context of Steven Spielberg’s 2012 movie Lincoln, showing that President making different arguments to different people.
But she used the question to attack Russia further, and condemned WikiLeaks as a part of Russian smear efforts.
Target of ire: Clinton’s all-out attack at the debate suggest she has no interest in another ‘reset’ of relations with the Kremlin
‘But you know, let’s talk about what’s really going on here, Martha, because our intelligence community just came out and said in the last few days that the Kremlin, meaning Putin and the Russian government, are directing the attacks – the hacking on American accounts to influence our election,’ she said to moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News.
‘And WikiLeaks is part of that, as are other sites where the Russians hack information – we don’t even know if it’s accurate information – and then they put it out.’
WikiLeaks head Julian Assange said last week that he plans ‘to be publishing every week for the next 10 weeks’ more information, and the leaks include ‘significant material’ on war, arms, oil, Google and the U.S. election.
In response to questions on Sunday, Clinton said that if she became president she would institute no fly zones and safe zones in order to force a diplomatic resolution with Russia on Syria.
‘I’ve stood up to Russia, I’ve taken on Putin and others, and I would do that as President,’ she said, citing a treaty between the two nations to reduce nuclear weapons, and the Iranian nuclear program agreement.
Trump afterwards butted in to reference Obama’s ‘line in the sand’, which he said was ‘laughed at all over the world’ while Clinton was secretary of state.
He was apparently referencing Obama’s August 2012 comment that any use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime on its own people would be a ‘red line’, saying that would ‘change my equation’.
Clinton denied being secretary of state at the time, although in fact she left her post in February 2013.
Trump derided her statements as mere posturing: ‘She talks tough about Russia but our nuclear program has fallen way behind’.
He denied knowledge of alleged Russian-sponsored hacks and Clinton’s accusations that he has close ties with America’s Cold War rival.
‘I don’t know Putin. I think it would be great to get along with Russia,’ he said.
‘They think they are going to tarnish me with Russia. I know nothing about Russia,’ he said.