'China, if you’re listening…': Hillary Clinton takes a veiled swipe at Trump to highlight 'absurd' situation for US cybersecurity

  • Former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton appeared to take a jab at President Donald Trump and the Republican Party.
  • Clinton used a hypothetical Democratic presidential candidate to illustrate the importance of election security and hit back at Trump during an MSNBC interview.
  • "'China, if you're listening, why don't you get Trump's tax returns,'" Clinton said in her hypothetical scenario, referring to Trump's unwillingness to release his tax returns. "'I'm sure our media would richly reward you.'"

Former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton appeared to take a veiled jab at President Donald Trump and the Republican Party through a hypothetical scenario.

"Imagine ... that you had one of the Democratic nominees for 2020 on your show, and that person said, 'you know, the only other adversary of ours who is anywhere near as good as the Russians, is China,'" Clinton said during an interview with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Wednesday.

"'So why should Russia have all the fun?'" Clinton said of this hypothetical Democratic candidate. "'And since Russia is clearly backing Republicans, why don't we ask China to back us?'"

Clinton appeared to be referring to Trump's comments during a July 2016 press conference, in which he asked Russia to find her deleted emails from her tenure as secretary of state.

The Kremlin launched a campaign to hack into Clinton's private email servers on the same day as the press conference, according to a Justice Department indictment against Russian intelligence operatives. Trump continued to suggest that thousands of the emails had been deleted with a nefarious intent from Clinton's operatives.

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William Barr through the years
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William Barr through the years
FILE - In this Nov. 12, 1991 file photo, then Attorney General nominee William Barr is shown on Capitol Hill in Washington. Barr once advised the U.S. government that it could attack Iraq without Congressional approval, arrest a deposed foreign dictator and capture suspects abroad without that country’s permission. Those decisions reflect a broad view of presidential power that Barr, President Donald Trump's pick to reclaim his old attorney general job, demonstrated at the Justice Department and in the years since. (AP Photo/John Duricka)
U.S. President George H. Bush signs into law new civil rights guarantees for women and minorities at a Rose Garden ceremony, Thursday, Nov. 21, 1991 in Washington, as Vice President Dan Quayle, left, and Acting Attorney General William Barr look on. The bill signing capped a two-year struggle with congress over whether the legislation encouraged job quotas. (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander)
U.S. President George H. Bush, right, and William Barr wave after Barr was sworn in as the new Attorney General of the United States, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 1991 at a Justice Department ceremony in Washington. (AP Photo/Scott Applewhite)
U.S. President George H. Bush gestures while talking to Attorney General William Barr in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, May 4, 1992 in Washington. The President met with top domestic Cabinet officers to tackle long-range problems pushed to the forefront by last week's deadly riots in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander)
Board member of MCI Telecommunications, Nicholas Katzenbach, second left, speaks at hearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on "The WorldCom Case: Looking at Bankruptcy and Competition Issues" on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday, July 22, 2003. Witnesses are, from left, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Verizon Communications William Barr, Katzenbach, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP's Marcia Goldstein, Communications Workers of America President Morton Bahr, National Bankruptcy Conference Vice-Chair Douglas Baird, Cerberus Capital Management Chief Operation Officer Mark Neporent. (AP Photo/Akira Ono)
Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr, left, listens as William Redpath, Libertarian Party national chairman, answers a question at a news conference in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2007. (AP Photo)
President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee, William Barr, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Barr, who served in the position in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and could be in place at the Justice Department as soon as February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee, William Barr, left, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee member and Trump confidant Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Barr, who served in the position in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and could be in place at the Justice Department as soon as February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee, William Barr, arrives to meet with Senate Judiciary Committee member and Trump confidant Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Barr, who served in the position in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and could be in place at the Justice Department as soon as February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee, William Barr, right, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Barr, who served in the position in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and could be in place at the Justice Department as soon as February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Attorney General nominee William Barr , left, turns to answer a reporter's question as he arrives to meet with Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said during the press conference in 2016. "I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press."

Read more:  Here's Mueller's full letter to Barr objecting to the attorney general's description of the special counsel's findings in the Russia probe

Clinton mirrored those words with a twist in her hypothetical scenario.

"'China, if you're listening, why don't you get Trump's tax returns,'" Clinton said, referring to Trump's unwillingness to release his tax returns. "'I'm sure our media would richly reward you.'"

"Now, according to the Mueller report, that is not conspiracy because it's done right out in the open," Clinton added of her scenario.

Clinton offered the example to broadly illustrate her concern for the integrity of the 2020 presidential election. The Trump White House and Republican leadership are accused of blocking a bipartisan bill that was intended to increase cybersecurity awareness for the election system.

A redacted version of Mueller's report revealed that the Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential election with the intent to hurt Clinton's campaign.

"The Republicans in the Senate wouldn't at all go forward with some of the bipartisan legislation that was meant to secure our elections under orders from the White House," Clinton said. "Now, why is that? Well, because they think it helped them."

"Just saying that shows how absurd the situation we find ourselves in," Clinton later added.

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