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Read Hillary Clinton’s Interview Calling Donald Trump ‘Not Qualified’

24 minute read

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton said Thursday that she thinks presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, whom she described as “divisive and dangerous,” is not qualified to be president.

She also commented on the ongoing Democratic primary race and said she is confident the party will unite ahead of the general. “I will be the nominee for my party,” she said. “That is already done in effect. There is no way that I won’t be.”

Here are the full remarks from Clinton’s interview with CNN anchor Chris Cuomo:

CUOMO: Thank you very much Secretary Clinton, it’s good to have you as always.

CLINTON: Thank you. Welcome to my hometown, Chris.

CUOMO: Thank you very much, it’s a very warm reception here. You’ve come home, and yet the problems of the world are upon us…

CLINTON: … that’s true…

CUOMO: … once again. We see in the headline this morning Egyptair. They’re now finding debris in Greek waters. The Greek authorities, the Egyptian authorities, all saying that they believe this was terror as much as anything else. They’re not there investigative yet, but if that’s the theory it is a reminder to people. Not just the loss of these families, but somehow the loss in the battle against terror. What is your message, and what do you believe the response should be to make something like this less likely?

CLINTON: Well, Chris, it does appear that it was an act of terrorism. Exactly how, of course, the investigation will have to determine, but it once again shines a bright light on the threats that we face from organized terror groups. ISIS, of course, but then there are other networks of terrorists that have to be hunted down and defeated. And, I think it reinforces the need for American leadership, for the kind of smart, steady leadership that only America can provide working with our allies, our partners, our friends in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere.

Because we have to have a concerted effort that brings to bear both domestic resources, sharing of intelligence. Take a hard look at airport security one more time. Whatever needs to be done must be done. The world depends upon air travel. We can’t allow it to be interrupted, or people be intimidated. And, to continue to take the fight, although it needs to be more intensified against ISIS from where it is running its operations in Syria, and Iraq.

So, we have to really go along with the kind of plan that I’ve been outlining for months, which is we’re going to defeat them on the ground using our airpower, equipping, and training, and supporting Arab American Kurdish fighters. We’re going to drive them out of Iraq. Drive them out of their stronghold Raca, Syria. We are going to intensify cooperation among those nations that have a direct stake which, I would argue, is just about every nation right now — but principally European, Arab, Middle Eastern.

We’re going to take them on online, and we’re going to intensify our intelligence, and law enforcement cooperation.

CUOMO: The criticism is that the Obama administration, with you as a part of it, and when you were not a part of it, have been making this case. We’re going to attack on every front, and the world seems to be getting worse. It seems that the threat is greater than our ability to defend, protect, and respond to it. Do you believe that things are worse now than they were seven, eight, years ago?

CLINTON: Well, look, I think we have to take a historic view of this. We have been unable to defeat in large measure, Al Qaeda, which was our principal adversary responsible for the worst terrorist attack on our shows, and terrible ones in Europe. We have to deal with the threats as they come, but I think we have learned a lot more and we are really grappling with — and I think, succeeding making it more difficult for them to operate from their strongholds; What we now have to also pay a lot of attention to are the literally thousands of people who left Europe, went to Syria, and or Iraq, or Turkey, or somewhere else connected to ISIS, or one of the other terrorist networks that are part of the overall threat.

We have to work more closely, and we have to really convince forcefully the Europeans that they have to do much more as well.

When I was Secretary of State, we were in a constant dialogue with the Europeans because we wanted information about travel manifests, or airlines flying across the ocean toward us. It took a while, we finally got it. They have a lot of concerns about privacy, and other legitimate issues, but right now we are in an environment where we have to put everything we can toward the goal of defeating ISIS, protecting ourselves, our friends and our partners.

CUOMO: How do you fight the perception that we look weak? Trump this morning was out hot and yearly on Twitter when this happened saying, looks like another act of terror. More proof that we’re weak, we have to be strong. There’s a lot of hate, and anger out there. He’s channeling the perception that a situation like this fuels, which is we are weak, they can take our planes when they want. The Russians, the Chinese, they can scare our military when they want and America does nothing. How do you answer that?

CLINTON: Well, first of all, he says a lot of things. He says a lot of things that are provocative that actually make the important task of building this coalition, bringing everybody to the table, and defeating terrorism more difficult.


CLINTON: Well, for example, when he says bar all Muslims from coming to the United States that sends a signal to majority Muslim nations, many of whom we have to work with in order to defeat terrorism, some of whom are already among our strongest allies in this fight — it sends a message of disrespect, and it sends a message that makes a situation inside those countries more difficult for them to call all-in the way we need them to go all-in.

CUOMO: So, the Americans, that message resonates with, where they say, well these attackers always do seem to be Muslim, and they’re coming in here. Comey, who’s in charge of vetting them, says he can’t vet them. Trump calls for a temporary ban, it seems to make sense to people, does it make sense to you?

CLINTON: No, not at all. Let’s remember what he’s called for, and to sort of break it up. He has said all Muslims should be barred from coming into the United States. All Muslims. Nobel Prize winners, entertainers, sports stars, you name it. The new mayor from London, all Muslims should be barred.

Now, when confronted with the new mayor from London who, as you know, is the first Muslim elected to be mayor of London by the people of London, he says, well I’ll make an exception for him. I mean, the whole approach is just incredibly provocative and wrongheaded.

Look what he’s done just in the last week. He’s attacked our closest ally, Great Britain. He has praised the reckless dictator in North Korea. He has said we should pull out of NATO, our strongest military alliance. He has advocated for more countries having nuclear weapons.

That kind of unpredictable dangerous rhetoric, and the policies that he throws out there for whatever hope he has to get people to respond to him make us less likely that we’re going to be as effective as we need to be going forward in assuaging the concerns of people that we want to be working with us to deal with this threat.

We have been effective in beginning to kill off the leadership of ISIS, to go after their funding sources, to make it very clear that we’re going to keep training the Iraqi Army. They’ve taken back Ramadi, we’re going to be supporting them to take back every other part of the territory, most importantly Mosul, that ISIS has seized.

So, we are making progress. Our biggest concern, and I think if this turns out to be an act of terror with a flight coming from Paris, our biggest concern is what’s going on in Europe, and that is something that we do have to address, and deal with all of our partners. That’s going to require closer cooperation.

CUOMO: Let me ask you, do you think that Donald Trump is qualified to be president?

CLINTON: No, I do not, and I think in this past week, whether it’s attacking Great Britain, praising the leader of North Korea, a despotic dictator who has nuclear weapons, whether it is saying pull out of NATO, let other countries have nuclear weapons, the kinds of positions he is stating, and the consequences of those positions, and even the consequences of his statements are not just offensive to people, they are potentially dangerous.

CUOMO: How so?

CLINTON: Well, as I mentioned…

CUOMO: … politicians talk, Madam Secretary, they say things but then once they get in office people believe nothing will be that different.

CLINTON: Well, when you run for President of the United States the entire world is listening and watching. So, when you say we’re going to bar all Muslims you are sending a message to the Muslim world, and you’re also sending a message to the terrorists because we now do have evidence. We have seen how Donald Trump is being used to, essentially, be a recruiter for more people to join the cause of terrorism.

I think if you go through many of his irresponsible, reckless, dangerous comments it’s not just somebody saying something off the cuff, we all misstate things. We all may not be as careful in phrasing what we say.

This is a pattern. It’s a pattern that has gone on now for months, and it’s a pattern that adds up, in my opinion, having watched presidents, having seen the incredibly difficult work that they do, and the decisions that they have to make, the thinking that goes in — sitting in the Situation Room. Do we go after Bin Laden, or not? I was part of that.

Was it a clear easy choice? Of course not. Did it have to be carefully parsed, and analyzed, and then we all gave our opinions, but it was up to the President to decide.

I know how hard this job is, and I know that we need steadiness, as well as strength and smarts in it, and I have concluded that he is not qualified to be President of the United States.

CUOMO: You don’t think Donald Trump could make that call in that room about whether or not to go after Bin Laden.

CLINTON: Based on what we know now, he could make it, perhaps on evidence that wasn’t clear. He could say a lot of things that might’ve given notice. I mean, just based on the way he has behaved, and how he has spoken, and the policies he has literally thrown out there, I think it adds up to a very troubling picture.

CUOMO: So, you get into the general election, if you’re the nominee, for your party.

CLINTON: I will be the nominee for my party, Chris. That is already done in effect. There is no way that I won’t be.

CUOMO: There is a Senator from Vermont who has a different take on that…

CLINTON: … well…

CUOMO: He says he’s going to fight until the end. And, there seems to be a change here as Donald Trump is trying to galvanize his party. The Democratic party seems to be going the other way. His supporters have become more aggressive, feeling that the system is rigged against the Senator.

We saw what happened in Nevada. When you saw that did you believe that Sanders responded the right way to that situation?

CLINTON: Well, I was very disturbed by what went on there, but I am confident…

CUOMO: With him, or with the supporters?

CLINTON: … well, what we saw, what we saw there…

CUOMO: … the supporters?

CLINTON: What we saw was disturbing. I have every confidence we’re going to be unified. I understand…

CUOMO: … where does that confidence come from?

CLINTON: Well, in part from my own experience, you know? I went all the way to the end against then Senator Obama. I won nine out of the last 12 contests. Back in 2008 I won Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, so I know the intense feelings that arise, particularly among your supporters as you go toward the end. But, we both were following the same rules, just as both Senator Sanders and I are following the same rules.

I’m three million votes ahead of him, and I have an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates, and I am confident that just as I did with Senator Obama, where I said, you know what? It was really close — much closer than it is between me and Senator Sanders right.

CUOMO: Votes-wise?

CLINTON: Yes, vote-wise and delegate-wise. I said, you know, in fact, it depends on how you evaluated it, I had more popular vote but I had fewer delegates, and the name of the game is how many delegates you have, right? So, when I came out and withdrew and endorsed Senator Obama, about 40% according to polls, about 40% of my supporters said they would never support him.

I worked really hard to make the case, as I’m sure Senator Sanders will, that whatever differences we might have, they pale in comparison to the presumptive nominee of the Republican party. Name an issue you care about, domestic or international, and clearly we are much closer — Senator Sanders supporters and mine, than either of us is with Donald Trump.

CUOMO: Why don’t you reach out directly to Senator Sanders and do the work of reunification, of unification of the party, however you want to see it.

I ask this because Senator Sanders has said to me in the past, and to many others, it’s not my job to get my supporters to vote for Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton has to make the case to these supporters, and given what you’re saying with this increase in hostility and antagonism towards the process within the process of the primaries on the Democratic side, should you reach out to Bernie Sanders and say let’s start doing this the right way? Let me start talking to the supporters, from your perspective? Have you done that? Have you thought about doing that… CLINTON: Well, I certainly said many times what I’ve just said to everyone, including his supporters, and I am absolutely committed to doing my part, more than my part. But, Senator Sanders has to do his part. That’s why the lesson of 2008, which was a hard fought primary, as you remember, is so pertinent here because I did my part. But, so did Senator Obama.

He made it clear. He welcomed people who had supported me. He made it very clear. We went to Unity, New Hampshire together. Appeared together. Spoke together, and made it absolutely obvious that I was supporting him, he was grateful for that support.

I was reaching out to my supporters, he was telling his…

CUOMO: … You nominated him Senator Obama at the convention…

CLINTON: … I did.

CUOMO: Bernie Sanders is saying he’s going to fight all the way through the convention, it’s different…

CLINTON: … Well, he has to do his part to unify. He said the other day that he will do everything possible to defeat Donald Trump. He said he’d work seven days a week. I take him at his word. I think the threat that Donald Trump poses is so dramatic to our country, to our democracy, and our economy, that I certainly Sanders to do what he said he would.

CUOMO: Any thought to your making the first move, and reaching out to make that process happen now as opposed to months from now?

CLINTON: Well, we’ve had lots of conversations between people who know me well, and support…

CUOMO: … But, not directly?

CLINTON: He know exactly what I’m saying. He hears it all the time because I have said the same thing. I respect him, I understand the very passionate advocacy he feels for the issues he’s been really pounding away at for years…

CUOMO: You Know what would bring you together very quickly?

If Bernie Sanders became your Vice President. Is there any chance of that?

CLINTON: Well, I’m not going to get into that. That’s something down the road…

CUOMO: Where better? We’re in your hometown, make some news, make it a historic place…

CLINTON: … I think what brings us together is Donald Trump. I think that’s what brings us together.

CUOMO: But, has he been in consideration? Is he even on the list? CLINTON: I’m not going to answer that question. Good try though, Chris, I’m not going to answer that question.

CUOMO: I’m just saying it in the context of things that would bring you two together. Who knows if he’d even say yes.

Alright, so, we’ll hold that for another day.

This is the easy part, theoretically, is getting the nomination. The harder part will be the general. If you are the nominee, and I know you have full confidence you will be, you know where Donald Trump is going.

He has started early, and he has adopted the go ugly, go early mentality. Heavily personal about you and your husband. Your response has been, I’m not going there. I’m going to stay above it.


CUOMO: The risk is that that’s what Jeb Bush said. That’s what others said, and the stink wound up sticking to them. Are you concerned that by ignoring the attacks they become more powerful?

CLINTON: No, I’m not, because I think people can judge his campaign for what it is. I’m going to run my campaign. I’m not so much running against him as I am running for the kind of future that I think America deserves to have, and that I believe that I’m the best candidate to deliver. That’s why I talk a lot about what I will do economically, what I will do on education, on health care, how we are going to bring the country together.

I have a lot of experience working across the aisle with Republicans. I did it as First Lady, as Senator, as Secretary of State. I’m very confident that we’re going to lay out my record of accomplishments, my ideas, my vision for the future. He can say whatever he wants to say, but I think in every election people want to know what are you going to do tomorrow?

What’s the future going to look like if I entrust you with this most solemn responsibility? And, that’s exactly the kind of campaign I am running, and I intend to keep running.

CUOMO: But his way is working for him. He took out an entire field. He keeps winning. He’s got more votes than any Republican ever in the primary…

CLINTON: And I’ve 2 million more than he has.

So I mean, look, yes, he took out a field that couldn’t really criticize him on issues because they fundamentally agreed with him. They don’t want to raise the minimum wage either. They all want to criminalize abortion. So when he would say these outrageous things more dramatically perhaps than his Republican counterparts were saying, they were stymied, and then when it got to the personal piece of it, they just tried to respond tit for tat. Well, you know, if you pick a fight with, you know, a bully, you know, you’re going to be pulled down to their level.

CUOMO: But at some point you have to stand up to a bully, as well, right? That’s what we teach our kids.

CLINTON: And I think that’s exactly what I’m doing, what this campaign will be doing, because it’s not so much for me, Chris, what he says about me. I am really used to it. I have very thick skin. It’s what he says about other people. It’s demeaning comments about all kinds of women. His offensive comments about immigrants. His mocking someone with a disability. The way he talks about Muslims. How really unmoored he is when he talks about foreign policy and the loose cannon that he has turned out to be when it comes to our national security. So I’m going after him. I’m going after him exactly on those statements that are divisive and dangerous, and I actually think that’s what the American people want to see, not an argument between two people, but what is it you think you’re bringing to the table, asking for our vote for president? And contrast it with the other guys.

CUOMO: Do you ever feel compelled to defend your honor, the honor of your husband?


CUOMO: With statements he’s making that go to the core of the relationship?

CLINTON: No. Not at all. I know that that’s exactly what he is fishing for, and you know, I’m not going to be responding.

CUOMO: So as you head forward in this, where do you believe the path forward is from here? What do you think happens within the Democratic Party going forward? Because it does seem to be somewhat of an unknown right now. Not the math about the nomination.


CUOMO: That’s, frankly, the easy part.

CLINTON: Right, it is.

CUOMO: It about where does the party wind up and how?


CUOMO: And then what do you bring against Donald Trump? Because you know what he’s bringing against you.

CLINTON: Well, I think that we are going to come together. We will unify. That doesn’t mean we won’t have some vigorous discussion and debate about issues, about the platform, about all of the process of a convention. I welcome that. I think that’s healthy. I think bringing people into the party, giving them a voice at the end is going to help us in the fall. I think, as I said, I will certainly do my part and more to reach out and bring in Senator Sanders supporters, and I have every reason to expect he will do the same. I think we’ll have a great convention in Philadelphia, and then we’ll go out and carry on the campaign against Donald Trump and the Republicans.

And I really believe that we’re going to have a strong, compelling case to make about the choice that the American people will be facing.

And I feel, you know, very optimistic about how the election will come out, and I also feel optimistic about the country. I mean, most of what trump says is pretty negative about America. It’s pretty much fearmongering, criticizing. You know, we are well positioned if we do our part, if we show leadership, if we bring people together. I think the three big tests any of us have to meet who is running for president, can you produce positive results in peoples’ lives? I have a track record of doing that. Can you protect America? Can you be commander in chief? Can you lead the world toward safety and prosperity? And number three, can you unify the country? I think on all three of those I’m able to go to the American public and say I can meet that test, and I believe on all three of those Donald trump can not.

CUOMO: Last question. I don’t want to keep you from your hometown, but I have to ask you this. When you started this campaign, you talked about your grandkids and you talked about your mother.


CUOMO: Nobody saw what is happening in this election coming down the road. What do you think when you think about your mother and the inspiration about how you get up? You’ve never faced an opponent like Donald Trump before. And the way he’s coming after you, whether it’s the foundation or your marriage or whatever. What do you think the advice would be about what to do to win (ph)?

CLINTON: I think it would be the same advice my mother always gave me, which is that everybody gets knocked down and knocked around in life, and the real test is whether you get back up, you dust yourself off and you keep going, and my mother’s life, which was really so different from mine, because she was abandoned and neglected by her family and was out working on her own to survive at the age of 14. And someone’s home is a maid and a babysitter. She taught me resilience, and courage and the power of love and kindness. Because that’s what kept her going. Not from her own family.

But from the teachers that saw the spark in her and reached out to help her. Even from the woman whose house she worked in and knew how desperately my mother wanted to go to high school. And so she said, Dorothy, if you can get up early and get all of your chores done, I’ll let you go to high school but you have to come right back, and that might sound harsh to our ears with your beautiful children, and you know, my adorable granddaughter, but to my mother it was a gift, that she could actually to go to high school while she was working to support herself.

So, I by osmosis as well as example, know that if you are putting yourself in the arena, everything that just goes with life, as hard as it may be, is probably amplified, magnified, increased. I get all of that. But I am someone sitting here in the library of my hometown in Park Ridge, Illinois, a place I spent a lot of hours in, I am the recipient of not just my family’s sacrifice, but this country’s promise, and I feel with all my heart, Chris, that’s what’s really on the ballot come November. Are we going to reconfirm the promise of America, which does have a place for immigrants, which does try to move people to being more unified and not divisive, that does expect leaders to bring people together, not tear them apart? Are we going to chart a course in keeping with our history? Because I think we already are great, but there’s no guarantee we stay great unless we work together, leaders and citizens alike.

So coming back to this place where I went to public school, where I had my first jobs working in the park system, where I spend a lot of time both at the library and the movie theater across the street, just inspires me to do everything I can to make sure that my granddaughter has the same opportunities that my mother made sure to provide for me. That is my mission, and that’s what I will try to do and stand for in this campaign.

CUOMO: Secretary Clinton, I know you have a very busy day. Thank you for making time.

CLINTON: Thank you.

CUOMO: The conversation continues. Good luck to you going forward.

CLINTON: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right.

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Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com