Clinton attacks Trump for 'all-out war on truth'

NEW YORK • One-time White House hopeful Hillary Clinton said press rights and free speech are "under open assault" under President Donald Trump, whose administration she compared to an authoritarian regime.

"We are living through an all-out war on truth, facts and reason," Mrs Clinton said at the PEN America World Voices Festival in Manhattan on Sunday, according to US media.

"When leaders deny things we can see with our own eyes, like the size of a crowd at the inauguration, when they refuse to accept settled science when it comes to urgent challenges like climate change... it is the beginning of the end of freedom, and that is not hyperbole. It's what authoritarian regimes through history have done."

The former presidential candidate, secretary of state, senator and first lady was delivering the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write lecture. She began by discussing threats to press freedom and free speech including in Mr Vladimir Putin's Russia, the Associated Press (AP) said.

But she soon turned her remarks to the United States under Mr Trump, saying such freedoms were "in the most perilous position I've seen in my lifetime".

"Today, we have a president who seems to reject the role of a free press in our democracy," she said.

LEADER AGAINST FREE PRESS

Today, we have a president who seems to reject the role of a free press in our democracy.

MRS HILLARY CLINTON, on the United States under Mr Donald Trump.

"Although obsessed with his own press coverage, he evaluates it based not on whether it provides knowledge or understanding, but solely on whether the daily coverage helps him and hurts his opponents.

"Now, given his track record, is it any surprise that according to the latest round of revelations, he joked about throwing reporters in jail to make them talk?"

She was referring to the newly declassified memos that former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey kept, recounting his private conversations with Mr Trump, who fired him last year.

According to those notes, Mr Comey and Mr Trump agreed that those who leaked classified information should be aggressively prosecuted.

Mr Trump, according to Mr Comey's telling, suggested that reporters who publish the leaks should be jailed, adding: "They spend a couple days in jail, make a new friend, and they are ready to talk."

Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump have exchanged barbs since he entered the White House. She has repeatedly questioned his fitness for office, and Mr Trump has frequently called her "Crooked Hillary" in posts on Twitter.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment, AP and the New York Times said.

Mrs Clinton's remarks were followed by a conversation with novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She was asked if she had "hit back" enough during the campaign - a reference to a childhood episode in which, Mrs Clinton has written, her mother gave her permission to hit back at a bully. "I now think that I didn't," Mrs Clinton said.

She said she told herself: "You just have to be calm and in control. Because ultimately what the country wants is someone who is not blowing up in the Oval Office."

"Well, you know that did not work out so well," she said, to laughter.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2018, with the headline 'Clinton attacks Trump for 'all-out war on truth''. Print Edition | Subscribe