‘We had some interesting, even helpful, interactions in private,’ the former secretary of state admitted
Hillary Clinton said in a recent interview that Russian President Vladimir Putin was on occasion “helpful” in their private interactions, only to go on and “manspread for effect” when the press was present.
The remarks came from an exclusive interview with the Financial Times, in which Ms Clinton provided comments on everything from the expansion of Nato, Donald Trump’s bid for re-election in 2024, and the now infamous incident where the Russian leader spread his legs during a photo-op while the then-US secretary of state met with her adversary in Russia in March 2010.
Ms Clinton was asked if she found Mr Putin to be sexist in their private interactions as much as he was in their public ones, and she didn’t mince words.
“Yes, he was very sexist towards me. We had some interesting, even helpful, interactions in private and then the press would be invited in and he would say something insulting about America,” she told the Financial Times, before citing the infamous 2010 photo-op. “He would then manspread for effect.”
Mr Putin once said in response to critiques from the then-Democratic forerunner in the presidential election that “it’s better not to argue with women”.
The former secretary of state also discussed her former rival’s bid for reelection, and how Mr Trump’s campaign would be impossibly tangled up in what she saw as the Russian leader’s only realistic path to victory in Ukraine.
“If Trump had won in 2020 he would have pulled out of Nato – I have no doubt about that,” she said, discussing the more than 70-year-old military alliance among the US, Europe and Canada that has been cited by the Russian leader in recent months for his ongoing invasion in Ukraine.
Ms Clinton’s predictions about Mr Trump’s intentions to pull out of the military alliance are not without evidence. In 2019, The New York Times reported on how senior administration officials had held private conversations with Mr Trump “several times over the course of 2018” where he vocalised his interest in withdrawing from Nato.
Ms Clinton, who lost her bid for president to the Nato-slamming former president Mr Trump, warned at the close of the interview that Democrats need to secure the next election, otherwise “everything that everybody else cares about goes out the window”.
“We are standing on the precipice of losing our democracy,” she said. “The most important thing is to win the next election. The alternative is so frightening that whatever does not help you win should not be a priority.”
The interview with the Financial Times was hardly the first time that the former secretary of state has opened up and provided candid insights into her difficult relationship with the Russian leader.
In 2017, while promoting her memoir, What Happened, she openly discussed how she believed “[Putin] doesn’t like democracy” and how she thought he wanted to “destabilise our country” in an interview on CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert before launching into her own personal gripes with the foreign leader.
“There’s an expression, we certainly know it in New York, called manspreading. Every time I met with him…it would be [legs sprawled out]. The whole deal,” she explained to host Stephen Colbert, before sharing an anecdote that she felt characterised his “sexism” towards her.
In an effort to find some common ground while visiting Moscow, the former secretary of state took to complimenting the Russian president’s conservation efforts with the Siberian tigers and polar bears in the country’s frozen regions.
“He said, ‘Come with me,’ he takes me down the stairs, down the corridor, into the door…into this inner-sanctum with this huge desk and the biggest map of Russia I think exists. He started telling me he’s going here to tag polar bears,” she said to the late-night host, before, she noted, he delivered the kicker by asking her: “Would your husband like to come?”
“I said, ‘Well, you know, I’ll ask him, but if he’s busy, I’ll go.’”