In an interview with Democratic campaign strategist David Plouffe, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton railed against Donald Trump's "illegitimate" presidency; warned that voter suppression, social media propaganda, and foreign election interference will make it tough for the eventual Democratic nominee to win in 2020; and claimed that Russia would back a third-party spoiler campaign by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D–Hawaii).
"They are going to do third party again," said Clinton. "I'm not making any predictions, but I think they've got their eye on someone who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third party candidate. She's a favorite of the Russians and they have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far. That's assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she's also a Russian asset."
The idea that Stein, the 2016 Green Party candidate, was a Russian asset is complete nonsense, as Reason's Matt Welch explained in this article. It's also ridiculous to claim that Stein managed to throw the election to Trump. The vast majority of Stein voters said they would have sat the election out if she had not appeared on the ballot: There just weren't enough potential Clinton supporters among the swing-state Stein voters.
Smearing Gabbard as a tool of Putin is similarly misguided. Gabbard has articulated a non-interventionist foreign policy vision that is refreshingly different from what most of the other candidates are offering, and that stands in stark contrast with Clinton's own hawkish record. This does not make her some kind of nefarious pro-Putin plant.
But Clinton makes clear throughout the Plouffe interview that she is incapable of recognizing honest disagreement. Everyone who opposes her or the mainstream Democratic candidates is, in her view, doing so for illegitimate or conspiratorial reasons. Trump gets along with Putin because Russia has something on him, "personal or financial," Clinton said. Indeed, she even suggested that Trump's decision to pull out of Syria might have been a favor to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in exchange for Turkish assistance with Trump's re-election.
Clinton warned the Democrats that they will be "out-gunned, outspent, and out-lied," and that pro-Trump forces will suppress the vote in swing states, disseminate misinformation on social media, and solicit help from foreign governments. It's true that Trump's boosters have engaged in underhanded tactics to get him in office and to keep him there. But Hillary Clinton did not lose the 2016 race because of fake Russian Facebook groups or fake news, or Jill Stein. Clinton lost because the American people declined to make her president.