Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Wednesday defended paying for a controversial dossier that alleged ties between President Donald Trump and Russia during the 2016 election.
In a late-night interview on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” Clinton said there was a difference between her campaign paying for legal opposition research and Trump’s team possibly working with Russia to influence the election.
“I think most serious people understand that,” Clinton said. “This was research started by a Republican donor during the Republican primary, and when Trump got the nomination for the Republican Party, the people doing it came to my campaign lawyer.”
“He said ‘yes,’” Clinton added, referring to her campaign lawyer, Marc Elias. “He’s an experienced lawyer, he knows what the law is, he knows what opposition research is.”
Clinton went on to allege that Trump “had to know” that people were reaching out to the Russian government “in order to help him.”
“We’ve never had an adversary who attacked us with so few consequences,” Clinton said. “And I think that’s, in large measure, because the president is so ambivalent.
“I mean, he has to know — we’ll find out what he knew and how involved he was — but he had to know that people were making outreach to Russians, to the highest levels of the Kremlin, in order to help him, to hurt me, but more importantly to sow this divisiveness,” she added.
Last week, the conservative outlet Washington Free Beacon revealed that it hired research firm Fusion GPS during the 2016 Republican presidential primary to conduct opposition research on Trump and several GOP presidential candidates.
The research effort expanded in March 2016 under financing from Democrats. The Washington Post first reported last Tuesday that the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign later retained Fusion GPS to conduct research.
ABC News reported in August that Fusion GPS was paid during the GOP primaries by a Republican and later by Democrats to dig up dirt on Trump and plant negative news stories.
Clinton downplayed the impact of the dossier during the Wednesday interview, highlighting that it came out after the election.
“And what also didn’t come out — which I think is an even bigger problem as I write in the book — is that the American people didn’t even know that the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign because of connections with Russia starting in the summer of 2016,” she said.
“So I know that voters should have had that information. That’s something that may have influenced some people.”