While promoting her new memoir on the contentious 2016 US presidential election, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday offered her thoughts on the assessment that Russia had interfered in the election and potentially colluded with the Trump campaign.
" This is a different kind of theft," Clinton said to CNN's Anderson Cooper. "I think it's probably bigger than Watergate because it is about the future. We no longer are worried about spies and provocateurs, dressed in black with gloves, breaking into an office and stealing information."
"They do it sitting in the offices of the Russian military intelligence and other related venues," Clinton said. "And they get into what is the core of our life now, through computer networks."
Clinton said that she started paying attention to signs of informational warfare after the massive Democratic National Committee email leak in 2016. Citing the conspiracy theories that were borne out of the email leaks, Clinton asserted that Russia had stood on the shoulders of fringe media outlets and "weaponized" their false assertions.
"This was a highly sophisticated influence operation," Clinton said. "I believe it did affect people's votes. I think it cost me votes."
"They clearly knew that stories that were making stuff up, trying to use the emails ... permeating Facebook and other sites," Clinton said.
Regardless of the election's outcome, Clinton said she's still worried for the future of the US.
"That's in the past," Clinton said of the 2016 election. "What's important is the fact that the Russians are still going at us."
"If I had been elected president under the same circumstances ... and evidence came up that the Russians for whatever reason were trying to help me, I would have said on the first day in office, 'We're going to launch the most thorough investigation.'""No nation, particularly an adversary nation, can mess with our democracy," she said.
Following President Donald Trump's inauguration, former US intelligence officials, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, accused Russia of helping to boost Trump.
Clapper has previously recalled Watergate while discussing controversial developments in the early months of the Trump administration:
"I was on active duty then, in the Air Force, as a young officer, and it was a scary time," Clapper said at a National Press Club event. "I have to say, though, that I think when you compare the two, that Watergate pales really, in my view, compared to what we're confronting now."
Clinton has received both praise and condemnation from members of her own party for her campaign memoir, in which she criticizes key political leaders, including her party rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders.
President Donald Trump unleashed a salvo of tweets aimed at Clinton on Wednesday night: "Crooked Hillary Clinton blames everybody (and every thing) but herself for her election loss. She lost the debates and lost her direction," Trump tweeted .
"The 'deplorables' came back to haunt Hillary.They expressed their feelings loud and clear. She spent big money but, in the end, had no game," Trump continued , referencing the controversial title Clinton gave to Trump's supporters during the campaign.