Hillary Clinton: Trump 'has turned American diplomacy into a cheap extortion racket'

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused President Trump on Friday of having “turned American diplomacy into a cheap extortion racket.”

“He has denigrated and, let’s be honest, stabbed in the back, the career foreign service officers who serve bravely and selflessly no matter the politics of the administration that they are working under. And now they are caught in the crossfire,” Clinton said at a human rights awards ceremony at Georgetown University, where she spoke about the impeachment inquiry launched this week by House Democrats.

Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the formal impeachment inquiry into Trump on Tuesday, the president has amped up his stream of invective against the anonymous whistleblower who filed a complaint against Trump over his repeated attempts to enlist Ukrainian officials to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

Prior to a July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump withheld almost $400 million in U.S. military aid from his government in what some critics have described as extortion for political dirt on Biden. In the complaint stemming from Trump’s call with Zelensky, the unnamed whistleblower also cited conversations and details provided by “more than half a dozen U.S. officials,” alleging that Trump is “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”

Clinton, who lost the 2016 presidential election to Trump despite winning the popular vote, has said she believes Russia’s interference in the election affected the outcome. Still, Clinton said, Trump’s impeachment “shouldn’t be a preordained conclusion.”

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Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky
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Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky
In this photo dated Feb. 6, 2019, Ukrainian comedian, Volodymyr Zelenskiy seen during the shooting of a popular TV series, where he plays the president during the filming in Kiev, Ukraine. Zelenskiy played the president and now is running for the same office in upcoming presidential elections on March 31.(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukrainian actor and candidate in the upcoming presidential election, hosts a comedy show at a concert hall in Brovary, Ukraine, Friday, March 29, 2019. Zelenskiy now surging ahead of both Tymoshenko and Poroshenko in the presidential context according to polls. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Ukrainian presidential candidate and popular comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy listens to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during their final electoral campaign debate at the Olympic stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, April 19, 2019. Friday is the last official day of election canvassing in Ukraine as all presidential candidates and their campaigns will be barred from campaigning on Saturday, the day before the vote. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Ukrainian comedian and presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy, holds his ballot before voting at a polling station, during the presidential elections in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, March. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Ukrainian presidential candidate and popular comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy makes the victory sign during the debate with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the Olympic stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, April 19, 2019. Friday is the last official day of election canvassing in Ukraine as all presidential candidates and their campaigns will be barred from campaigning on Saturday, the day before the vote. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Ukrainian comedian and presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and his wife Olena Zelenska smile as they greet supporters at his headquarters after the second round of presidential elections in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Ukrainians voted on Sunday in a presidential runoff as the nation's incumbent leader struggles to fend off a strong challenge by a comedian who denounces corruption and plays the role of president in a TV sitcom. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Ukrainian comedian and presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy shows his ballot before casting his ballot at a polling station, during the second round of presidential elections in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Top issues in the election have been corruption, the economy and how to end the conflict with Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Ukrainian comedian and presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and his wife Olena Zelenska congratulate each other at his headquarters after the second round of presidential elections in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Ukrainians voted on Sunday in a presidential runoff as the nation's incumbent leader struggles to fend off a strong challenge by a comedian who denounces corruption and plays the role of president in a TV sitcom. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
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Clinton lauded Pelosi’s “clear-eyed leadership,” noting the importance of women’s leadership in advancing human rights, justice and peace. She said the speaker’s decision to investigate the president was based “on the basis of evidence that he betrayed his oath of offic to uphold the Constitution and protect and defend our country.”

“Now sadly we’ve known who Donald Trump is for some time now,” Clinton said. “We knew he was a corrupt businessman who cheated people. We knew that he and his campaign invited foreign adversaries to tamper with our elections. And now we know that in the course of his duties as president, he’s endangered us all by putting his personal and political interests ahead of the interests of the American people.”

Clinton’s comments about Trump drew little audience response, whereas her remarks when she referred to Pelosi and said that foreign service officers “deserve the support and gratitude of all Americans” garnered cheers.

“But this is ultimately about much more than Donald Trump,” she added. “It is about us. It is about who we are as a nation. History is being written, and the world and our children are watching.”

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