Trump and Clinton go to battle over WikiLeaks and Russia

Firing back at a debate question involving WikiLeaks on Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton called on her opponent, Donald Trump, to “admit” that Russia is meddling in the U.S. election and to “condemn” them for it.

Clinton’s remarks came after Fox News host and debate moderator Chris Wallace asked her to “clear up” her position on the U.S. border, citing a speech published by WikiLeaks in which she said to a Brazilian bank, “My dream is a hemispheric, common market with open trade and open borders.”

“If you went on to read the rest of the sentence, I was talking about energy,” Clinton replied. Clinton’s quote in full reads:

“My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere.”

Wallace’s reference to WikiLeaks was clearly an opportunity Clinton was waiting for—a way to further tie her opponent to Russian President Vladimir Putin, a tactic Democrats have employed throughout the year to diminish Trump by portraying him as the puppet of a foreign power. Clinton also seized the moment to paint WikiLeaks in the same light.

“What’s really important about WikiLeaks is that the Russian government has engaged in espionage against Americans,” Clinton said, initially paying little attention to the moderator’s question. “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.”

Russia’s attempt to interfere with the election was a decision made at the highest levels of its government, Clinton said, “clearly from Putin himself.”

Clinton also correctly cited “17 of our intelligence agencies” that believe Russian officials are behind the hack of Democratic Party institutions. The Obama administration has not publicly blamed Putin.

“Will Donald Trump make it clear that he will not have the help of Putin in this election, that he rejects Russian espionage against Americans, which he actually encouraged in the past,” Clinton followed up.

“That was a great pivot off the fact that she wants open borders,” Trump replied, drawing laughter from the audience, which prompted Wallace to chide them.

“Just to finish on the borders, she wants open borders,”  Trump continued. “People are going to pour into our country. People are going to come in from Syria. She wants 550 percent more people than Barack Obama, and he has thousands and thousands of people. They have no idea where they come from.”

Addressing Clinton’s remark about Putin, Trump said: “I don’t know Putin. He said nice things about me. If we got along well, that would be good. If Russia and the United States got along well, and went after ISIS, that would be good. He has no respect for her, he has no respect for our president.”

Trump then accused Clinton of “playing chicken” with a nuclear power. “You’re the puppet,” Trump said. “No, you’re the puppet.” Clinton jabbed back, raising on multiple occasions the fact that Trump has encouraged Russian cyberattacks on American servers.

In July, Trump said that he hoped Russian hackers had breached Clinton’s emails during her tenure as secretary of state, while encouraging Putin to publish them all. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press,” Trump told the foreign power

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron was a reporter at the Daily Dot who covered security and politics. In 2015, he revealed the existence of an American hacker on the U.S. government's terrorist watchlist. He is a co-author of the Sabu Files, an award-nominated investigation into the FBI's use of cyber-informants. He became a staff writer at Gizmodo in 2017.