After the moderator Chris Wallace quoted a line from a speech Clinton gave to a Brazilian bank – revealed in the hacked emails – the Democratic nominee took it as an opportunity to point out what she sees as the biggest takeaway from the WikiLeaks hack – the Russian government’s alleged involvement.
“You are very clearly quoting from WikiLeaks and what’s really important about WikiLeaks is that the Russian government has engaged in espionage against Americans,” Clinton told Wallace.
“They have hacked American websites, American accounts of private people, of institutions, then they have given that information to WikiLeaks for the purpose of putting it on the Internet,” she added.
“This has come from the highest levels of the Russian government, clearly from [Vladimir] Putin himself, in an effort – as 17 of our intelligence agencies have confirmed – to influence our election.
“So I actually think the most important question of this evening, Chris, is finally will Donald Trump admit that the Russians are doing this and that he rejects Russian espionage?”
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Trump replied that he “of course” condemns Russia or any other country interfering with the U.S. election but said he doesn’t believe the evidence that Russia was responsible for the Clinton campaign hack.
Trump said Putin is not his “best friend” but that he believes he would “get along” with the Russian president and “that’s a good thing.”
He once again praised Putin and said he was “outsmarted” Clinton repeatedly.
In recent weeks, WikiLeaks has released more than 12,000 internal emails believed to be illegally obtained by hackers from the private account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
The Clinton campaign has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of any of the transcripts released by WikiLeaks. Both her campaign and the Obama administration have said the Podesta email dump is part of an effort to help her opponent Donald Trump win the presidency, blaming the Russian government for the hack and WikiLeaks for releasing the emails.
Among the revelations in the emails: transcripts of speeches at Goldman Sachs and other banks, a statement to bankers about the need to have both “a public and a private” position on issues and infighting at the Clinton Foundation.
The U.S. government has said there is mounting evidence to suggest that Russian was responsible for supplying WikiLeaks with the hacked emails.
So far none of the revelations have been particularly damaging for Clinton. But Trump has seized on the hacked emails, claiming they show the FBI, the State Department, and the Department of Justice colluded to protect the former secretary of state — a claim that the FBI has denied.