Hillary Clinton launched a stunning attack on Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in an interview with ABC TV's 'Four Corners' program on Monday night, labelling him a "nihilistic opportunist" and "tool of Russian intelligence".
The 2016 Democratic Party presidential candidate sat down with the ABC's Sarah Ferguson to discuss her thoughts on everything from Assange's and Wikileaks' influences on last year's U.S. election to the "grudge" she believes Russian President Vladimir Putin has against her.
The interview was Clinton's first media appearance for an Australian organisation and also provided a candid insight into her perspectives on many of the crucial moments that affected her presidential campaign leading up to last November's ballot.
And if you missed it, here are the points that stood out the most:
Wikileaks: A 'Subsidiary Of Russian Intelligence'
In speaking about her own history with Assange while working as U.S. Secretary of State under former President Barack Obama, Clinton alleged the Wikileaks founder did the "bidding of a dictator" during her 2016 election campaign by releasing damaging information about her while also not reporting transparently about the actions of the Russian government.
"I think he's very clearly a tool of Russian intelligence. And he has done their bidding," she said.
"You don't see damaging negative information coming out about the Kremlin on WikiLeaks, you didn't see, despite some reports, that the Russians also stole information from the Republicans.
"You didn't see any of that published, so I think Assange has become a kind of nihilistic opportunist who does the bidding of a dictator."
Clinton also claimed Wikileaks' publication of hacked emails from the account of John Podesta, her campaign chairman, was based on "stolen information" that was then used to create "outlandish, often terrible stories" about her and affect her chances at an election victory.
"I think for number one, it's one stolen information and number two, if all you did was publish it, that would be one thing," she said.
"But there was a concerted operation between WikiLeaks and Russia and most likely people in the United States to, as I say, weaponise that information to make up stories -- outlandish, often terrible stories -- that had no basis in fact, no basis even in the emails themselves, but which were used to denigrate me, my campaign, people who supported me, and to help Trump.
"What we're finding out is that there had to be some very sophisticated help provided to WikiLeaks, which is unfortunately now practically a fully own subsidiary of Russian intelligence, to know how to target both their messages of suppression and their negative messages to affect voters."
From there she also labelled the timing of the initial leak of emails, which fell just hours after an Access Hollywood tape featuring Trump bragging about the sexual assault of women in 2005, as "a very clever, diabolical response" by Wikileaks to soften the blow on the now U.S. President.
"[The tape] was covered dramatically and wall to wall for about 48 hours," she said.
"WikiLeaks -- which in the world in which we find ourselves -- promised hidden information, promised some kind of secret that might be of influence, [it] was a very clever, diabolical response to the Hollywood Access tape.
"And I've no doubt in my mind that there was some communication if not coordination to drop those the first time in response to the Hollywood Access tape."
Earlier on Monday Assange, who has been living inside London's Ecuadorian embassy since 2012, hit back at Clinton in a series of posts to Twitter, saying she "is not a credible person" who exhibits "a cold creepiness" throughout the interview.
There's something wrong with Hillary Clinton. It is not just her constant lying. It is not just that she throws off menacing glares and seethes thwarted entitlement. Watch closely. Something much darker rides along with it. A cold creepiness rarely seen. https://t.co/JNw2dkXgdu— Julian Assange 🔹 (@JulianAssange) October 15, 2017
WikiLeaks has a pristine record for accuracy. HRC is not a credible person. The primary cause of her downfall was her own Machiavellian scheme to elevate Mr. Trump ("Pied Piper").— Julian Assange 🔹 (@JulianAssange) October 15, 2017
Our last Russian expose was three weeks ago. https://t.co/MGa1z99vVUhttps://t.co/He4vgLIKBW
On Clinton's "timing" conspiracy theory. That we had a pending publication about to launch on the election was everywhere in the media for days. We were meant to launch that morning. It is the Trump tape that was moved forward from Monday to Friday. https://t.co/Mo6PbJoTpV— Julian Assange 🔹 (@JulianAssange) October 16, 2017
'Weaponised Information' Caused Election Loss
One of Clinton's key points during the Four Corners interview was that information from a series of emails sent by her was "weaponised", particularly by former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) James Comey, which then convinced voters to support Trump at the election.
She told Ferguson that she believed uncertain voters in the U.S. were "legitimately confused" about how Trump would act if he won the presidency and that the leaked information provided enough of a basis for people to eventually support him over her.
"I don't think there's any excuse for racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamaphobia, the other anti-immigrant plays that Trump was making, but I also know that people who ah were voting were legitimately confused about what he would do," she said.
"I think there was so much misinformation, weaponised information by the Russians and others supporting his campaign that it created a great deal of uncertainty in parts of the electorate.
"I think it was more significant than Watergate." Hillary Clinton on cyber manipulation of US election #4corners— Philippa Bateman (@PhilippaBateman) October 16, 2017
Late into last year's election campaign, Comey penned a controversial letter to members of the U.S. congress announcing the FBI were investigating Clinton's handling of sensitive government information in the emails, in a move that was widely seen as the tipping point for her campaign.
According to Clinton, this one act was the catalyst for her ultimate election loss.
"Absolutely, I maintain [the loss was attributed to] Comey's letter, combined with the lies that were part of the weaponised targeting of voters in those states that were at risk," she said.
Putin's 'Grudge' Against Clinton
In addressing the main reasons behind her loss to Trump last year, Clinton also took aim at the Russian government and, in particular, President Vladimir Putin for affecting the perceptions of voters in a move she labelled as representative of a grudge held by him against her.
In the interview, she claimed her opposition to Putin's "authoritarianism" was the main cause of the grudge that saw orders come from top Russian officials to do what they could to support Trump's campaign.
"I think Russia affected the perceptions and views of millions of voters we now know. I think that their intention coming from the very top with Putin was to hurt me and to help Trump," she said.
"Our intelligence community and other observers of Russia and Putin have said he held a grudge against me because as Secretary of State I stood up against some of his actions -- his authoritarianism -- but it's much bigger than that.
"I mean he wants to destabilise democracy, he wants to undermine America... So, this is part of his strategic goal to try to reassert Russian authority, certainly to maintain his authoritarian leadership and to try to hurt the United States."
When it came down to the specifics of how she believed Putin's government was capable of that, Clinton told Ferguson that the Russian production of false information into the U.S. played a major role.
"If you feed false information continuously to people about one candidate versus another, it does have an impact," she said,
"We now know that the Russians actually paid in Rubles for running ads in Facebook and on Twitter making all kinds of accusations against me, working to suppress voters which is a really important part of the equation.
"So I have no doubt, and increasingly I think the consensus is that they certainly influenced enough voters to say that they affected the [election] outcome."
In September this year, it was also revealed that Russian hackers had attempted to access voting systems during the 2016 election, with 21 states around the U.S. affected.
Further to that, a Russian hack on the Democratic National Convention is widely believed to have had a significant effect on the result of the ballot by influencing the voters of citizens in key swing states.
Trump 'Sided With Deplorable People'
In October last year while at an event fundraiser, Clinton said that half of the Republican supporters of Trump belonged in a "basket of deplorables" of people who were racist, homophobic, sexist, xenophobic, or Islamophobic.
The moment was widely credited as providing the now President with a "political gift" during the election campaign that would ultimately contributed to his victory.
On Monday night, Clinton acknowledged that the comments did affect the perspectives of her held by people who voted for Trump, but ultimately stood by her view.
"Sure it [affected] people who supported Trump but I don't think it did among the general electorate... I regretted giving him any gift by saying anything that could've been used," she said,
"But look, I think he's behaved in a deplorable way and I think he has sided with deplorable people.
"He has sided with people, neo-Nazis and white supremacists and others who I frankly think are deplorable in what they say and what they do."
Trump Is 'Impulsive', 'Lacks Self-Control'
Lastly, the former U.S. presidential nominee spared some select words for her description of Trump as the United States' current President, labelling him as "vindictive" and saying that he is "consumed by how he is viewed".
In her opinion, Clinton told Four Corners that Trump's behaviour to date as leader of the country is a clear reflection of his lack of governmental knowledge and interest in improving his presidency.
"He is impulsive, he lacks self-control, he is totally consumed by how he is viewed and what people think of him," she said.
"He is vindictive, he goes after people like the Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, desperate to get help and calling him out for the very slow response of the federal government.
So his behaviour traits and his lack of knowledge about how government works and his very, you know, limited curiosity about how to educate himself to actually make better decisions, are quite worrisome."
She also said that she believes Trump's election victory was like "a reality TV show that had never been imagined in American politics before", leaving the future of U.S. politics at risk.
"My fear is that this is going to spread, you know it worked once, why wouldn't it work again?" she said.
"Hopefully whoever tries it will not be as inexperienced and temperamentally unqualified to be President
"If you can keep the attention of the press by saying outrageous things... and you have a base of people who respond to your racism and sexism and everything else that Trump was appealing to, you can at least get the party nomination and, with enough help from the Russians and others, get elected."
And it's for that reason exactly that Clinton said she now feels guilty for losing an election that had so much at stake.
"I feel like I let people down -- that there was so much at stake in this election," she said.
"I knew it would be hard, I knew it would be close, but I did not know that I would be running against not only Trump but the FBI Director and Vladimir Putin.
"At the end of the day I think that we're learning more and more about what actually happened... it's an effort to say okay let's learn the lesson so it doesn't happen again."