Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed why she thinks President Trump should be impeached and mocked the president with an impression of a "secret phone call" with Vladimir Putin in an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin at The New York Times' "DealBook" conference on Wednesday evening.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: Throughout this whole conversation I have not raised one word, and that is impeachment. You know a lot about impeachment.
Knowing what you know about this situation with Ukraine and this president, would you say unequivocally that you would impeach him today?
HILLARY CLINTON: Based on what I know, yes. And here's why. As you alluded, I was on the staff as a very young lawyer that investigated President Nixon -- so I spent 18-hour days for seven months collecting evidence, analyzing it, doing the legal analysis and the Constitutional analysis.
Why did our founders put that in there? We have elections, so if you don't like somebody or they aren't doing a good job you vote them out. But they worried so much about someone being in power, particularly the presidency, in between elections, who would do irreparable damage to the country. The 'high crimes and misdemeanors' was a way borrowed from ancient Anglo-Saxon law, to express their concern, and to put a mechanism, in the Constitution.
So I think Nancy Pelosi resisted the calls that a lot of people had after whatever happened - emoluments this, obstruction of justice that.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: Would you have impeached on those issues?
HILLARY CLINTON: No, no, no. I wouldn't necessarily exclude them now fro articles of impeachment, but the reason Ukraine broke through was it was abundantly clear, even to those who were indifferent towards all the other challenges or questions about Trump is that there has to be something really wrong with the president using the power of the office to intimidate, export, and bribe the president of another country to do his bidding by manufacturing scandalous material about the apparently the opponent that he was most worried about.
I know some of these diplomats who have been testifying, I served with them, they were career people who performed admirably and they were totally non-partisan. The thing about the Foreign Service corps in the State Department is they serve Republican president, Democratic presidents, but they do take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. And their job, they thought, was to speak truth to power and them found themselves being not only isolated and marginalized but defamed and removed.
So I think the behavior around Ukraine is so deeply troubling that I certainly think it fits the definition that was behind the founders' decision.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: Not to play Devil's advocate at all, because I think we may be in agreement, but the question I would have for you is: If there was genuine corruption in that country and there was genuine corruption, or at least the speculation about corruption with them related to our own politics, what would have been the appropriate method to have dealt with it?
HILLARY CLINTON: Look, Ukrainian corruption is not new. I dealt with it when I was Secretary of State--
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: But if there was a candidate on our end who was somehow related to it, what would you do?
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, let's imagine the phone conversation because that is what kicked this all off. If we had a president who was genuinely concerned about corruption in the Ukraine and the potential impact of that corruption on our elections, you certainly could have a conversation. It might go something like this:
"President Zelensky, we know that you're new to the job, you just got there, but you need to know the United States wants to support you, wants to help defend you against continuing Russian aggression, but we are worried that unless you tackle the corruption in your own country, anything we give to you will not be put to the best use and will not produce the best results, so we're going to send a team over to sit with you and your entirely new cabinet," -- because these people have never been in politics before. "We're going to walk through with you some of the best practices for dealing with corruption and we're going to ask you to provide any information that in any way would suggest that America could do more to help you."
Not: "But, if you don't do what I want you to do, and what I want you to do has nothing to do with America's interest and everything to do with my own interests, we're not going to help defend you against the Russians."
We used to talk to foreign leaders about corruption all the time because it is one of the killers of democracy. It is such a soul-crushing burden on people all across the world. So there are lots of ways to talk about it, but that wasn't -- he could care less about corruption in Ukraine. What he wants is dirt on Joe Biden, whether it is real or not. And from everything we know, it is not. So, "Give me something I can use."
I did the James Corden Show last night and he asked me what has happened to Rudy Giuliani, and I said I don't know. But I would strongly suggest that he's been taken over by some evil spirit...
So Rudy’s over there cutting deals, trying to get these guys Parnas and Fruman in on energy company boards, I mean the whole thing is so ridiculous. That then they would be trying to number one, not only put something on Joe Biden -- which from everything we know is absolutely untrue -- but try to prove that it wasn’t Russian interference 2016 election, it was little Ukraine.
You know, I do live rent-free in Donald Trump’s head, I’m aware of that, but even for that, it’s hard to imagine how they can be sitting around at, you know, the golf club or whatever saying yeah we’ve got to prove that Ukraine interfered, you know, 'Vladimir just told me in my last secret phone call with him, get Ukraine responsible for that!'
I mean we are living, you had [Netflix CEO] Reed [Hastings] on earlier, we are living in a great Netflix special, and I just want the series to end and we’re all okay when it does, that’s what I’m looking for.
Watch Clinton's full remarks: