Hillary Clinton Drops In to the U.K. To Explain What Happened

3 minute read

Hillary Clinton did not hold back from criticizing President Donald Trump as she took the stage of London’s Southbank Centre in the final leg of her U.K. book tour Sunday evening, where she received a standing ovation from a decidedly partisan crowd.

Speaking as part of the London Literature Festival as she promoted her recently-published memoir, What Happened, Clinton described the U.S. president as someone with “a psychological need to dominate and demean people” whom she fears could launch a nuclear strike “in a moment of pique.”

The interviewer, journalist and broadcaster Jim Naughtie, asked Clinton what it was like to call Trump to admit defeat early on the morning of Nov. 9. “It was really terrible,” she said. “[The call] didn’t last long. There wasn’t much to say. He was surprised and going out to claim victory and I wanted to reach him before he did that. He sounded stunned but ecstatic… I never thought I’d be making the call and he never thought he’d be receiving it. It was one of those surreal moments that you get through.”

When Naughtie asked Clinton what she thought Trump thought of her, she responded: “I think he only thinks about himself. Anyone who challenges or contradicts him or raises questions about him becomes his adversary.”


Hillary Clinton Appears At The London Literary Festival
Hilary Clinton (R) shakes hands with broadcaster James Naughtie (L) following her talk at the London Literary Festival at The Royal Festival Hall on October 15, 2017 in London, England.Jack Taylor—Getty Images

Sticking to her well-rehearsed explanation of what went wrong in the election, the 69-year-old described her use of a private email server while serving as U.S. Secretary of State as “a very dumb mistake and an even dumber scandal.” She added that former FBI director James Comey’s decision to announce he was examining newly-discovered emails of hers just 11 days before the vote was “inexplicable.”

Repeating comments she had made at the U.K.’s Cheltenham Literary Festival earlier that day, Clinton said she believed the email scandal was “the principal reason” why she lost the U.S. election last November. “We were beginning, I thought, to make our closing argument,” she said. “But then the Comey letter happened and it critically stopped my momentum with white women voters… I immediately started dropping [in the polls] after the Comey letter because a lot of women were really unsettled by that.”

Clinton continued on the subject, claiming that she “would have been more than happy” to have given the FBI permission to look at her emails. “[But] the objective was to throw this big monkey wrench,” she said. “The reason why it’s so hard to understand is at the same time, the FBI was conducting an investigation into the Trump campaign’s association with the Russians – but did not say a word to anybody.”

Then, in a comment which received a gasp from the audience, the former Democratic presidential candidate added: “And when he was later asked by members of Congress, Comey said he didn’t think he could talk about the Russian investigation because it was too close to the election.”

Asked whether, with hindsight, she wished it had been someone else representing the Democratic Party in the presidential election, Clinton smiled. “Oh absolutely not,” she replied. “I just wish I had won.”

More Must-Reads From TIME

Write to Kate Samuelson / London at kate.samuelson@time.com