In a never-to-be confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Hillary Clinton hoped to stare down the Russian leader who US intelligence believes worked to elect her campaign rival.
It was a fantasy dashed by Donald Trump’s election, which Clinton recounts in her campaign memoir, “What Happened.” CNN purchased a copy of Clinton’s book a week before its widespread release.
“There’s nothing I was looking forward to more than showing Putin that his efforts to influence our election and install a friendly puppet had failed,” she wrote. “I know he must be enjoying everything that’s happened instead. But he hasn’t had the last laugh yet.”
A lengthy middle section of Clinton’s book is devoted to Russia’s attempts to influence the US presidential contest, which Clinton blames in part for her loss. She describes herself as consumed by the various threads of Russia’s involvement, writing that she follows “every twist and turn of the story,” often with chagrin.
“I read everything I could get my hands on,” she writes.
The cloud of numerous investigations into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and the connections Donald Trump’s campaign had to the intrusions has hung over Trump’s first few months in the White House, leading to a steady stream of stories about Russia’s efforts to sway the election.
Clinton’s book does involve some introspection and she takes responsibility for her failures, but the book oozes with contempt for Trump and blames two external factors — Russia and fired FBI Director James Comey — for her loss.
Clinton uses the memoir to offer a character assessment of Putin, who she claims doesn’t respect women, carried a “personal vendetta” toward her, and held a “deep resentment” against the United States.
“I never imagined that he would have the audacity to launch a massive covert attack against our own democracy, right under our noses — and that he’d get away with it,” she wrote.
In some of her most biting criticism for her former boss, Clinton also wonders in her book whether a more forceful public response from then-President Barack Obama could have helped remedy the problems caused by Moscow’s attempted meddling.
“I do wonder sometimes about what would have happened if President Obama had made a televised address to the nation in the fall of 2016 warning that our democracy was under attack,” she writes. “Maybe more Americans would have woken up to the threat in time. We’ll never know.”
Instead, she describes watching Trump on television with growing resentment, harkening back to his jab during a presidential debate that she would act as an operative for Moscow.
“‘No puppet. No puppet. You’re the puppet,’ ” Trump told her during one October debate.
“This man is President of the United States,” Clinton wrote. “And no one is happier than Vladimir Putin.”