Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has long alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was a major factor in her loss to Republican Donald Trump, is now making similar allegations about the U.K.'s Brexit vote.
Appearing in a Chatham House conversation Tuesday with former Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and Tory leader William Hague, Clinton said, "I do think we’re in a crisis of democracy," in response to a question from Hague beginning with the collapse of the Arab Spring, and ending: "Russia has become more authoritarian, China has turned in an even more totalitarian direction, global surveys have shown youth satisfaction with democracy in decline, the U.S. Capitol itself has been stormed by a mob refusing the accept the result of an entirely fair election."
Hague then turned to "foreign interference," saying that Clinton had "been on the receiving end of that, perhaps more than anyone else in the world," bringing up Russian activity in the 2016 presidential election.
Russia, Clinton responded, is the primary adversary when it comes to interfering in elections and democracy, adding that Russian interference "has now been proven beyond a doubt in our election in 2016, but in the continuing efforts to interfere even in the 2020 election, particularly the lead-up to it — but I think there was also significant evidence of Russian involvement, if not influence or interference, in Brexit."
"Leaders must be willing to stand up to and speak out against Russian interference, or frankly, interference from any foreign power — but let’s focus on Russia,” she added.
Hague, who opposed Brexit, didn't challenge Clinton, though an Oxford study found Russia-linked tweets on Brexit were minimal, Breitbart reported.
Clinton then accused Trump of telling people to drink bleach as a cure for COVID-19 and criticized social media companies for not doing a better job of policing what people say on their platforms. Facebook, Twitter and other social media all banned Trump following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, saying his posts incited violence, and Facebook on Wednesday upheld its ban for now. Twitter has said the former president's ban is permanent.
"Is the addictive echo chamber model of social media so flawed that nations will have to bring in, maybe even with global agreements, some pretty fundamental change to the way this works?" Hague asked.
"This is a train that is out of control," Clinton said, adding that she hopes Congress will bring forth proposals to regulate social media posts.
Political leaders must avoid populism, she said, and take a firmer line with the public on the pandemic.
"It's clear that a science-based approach has helped to rein in the pandemic, and I think this is a great time for leaders to be able to say, again, 'You know what, it's not easy asking you to wear a mask, and be socially distanced — I know it's hard, but it's the only way that we know of to break it, and now you’ve got to get a vaccine,'" she said. "And try to rebuild again, you know, that fact-based trust that is necessary."
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