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Hillary Clinton: Kavanaugh's revenge claim deserves 'laughter'

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded with laughter to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's statement that she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, played a roll in sexual assault allegations brought against him by Christine Blasey Ford.

Speaking Tuesday at the Atlantic Festival in Washington, D.C., Clinton responded to Kavanaugh's claim that the accusations and the ensuing hearing were part of "a calculated and orchestrated political hit" fueled by "revenge on behalf of the Clintons," the result of the 2016 election and other factors.

"It deserves a lot of laughter," Clinton said. "I thought it was just part of the whole -- of his very defensive and unconvincing presentation. And I told someone later, 'Boy, I will tell you -- they give us a lot of credit -- 36 years ago, we started this against him."

Kavanaugh testified last week on allegations he sexually assaulted Ford at a house party when the two were teenagers in 1982.

Clinton added she couldn't recall any nominee "behaving in such a way" during Senate testimony, also drawing on her own experiences testifying before the Senate about her email use and about the death of four Americans in a Sept. 11, 2012, attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

"We have not seen anything quiet like that for a long time ... in this case, the performance, the behavior was quite out of bounds. I don't ever remember anything like that," she said.

Conversely, Clinton said she found Ford's testimony to be "very credible" and praised her demeanor.

"You have ask yourself why would anybody put themselves through this if they did not believe that they had important information to convey to the Senate," she said. "I found her presentation, I found her willingness to say 'I don't remember that but I remember this' to be very convincing and I felt a great swell of pride that she would be willing to put herself out there under these circumstances."

Clinton also discussed election interference in the upcoming midterm election, saying she doesn't believe the Trump administration and U.S. agencies are doing enough to prevent influence by foreign actors and theft of information.

"This is the kind of general threat -- this attack on our nation -- that should be taken seriously by everybody and should be the No. 1 issue on our national security headline right now," she said.

She added she believes such interference by Russia and other factors had an impact on the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

"I believe that the combination of the Russian campaign, WikiLeaks being the cutout for Russian information, the role Cambridge Analytica and other organizations like that played, in connection with the Republican apparatus, the national committee and other allies and the Trump campaign certainly altered the outcome in enough places that we have to ask what really happened," she said.

Earlier in the day, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., spoke at the event, telling attendees he plans to remain in politics after his term in the Senate ends. He announced last year he wouldn't seek re-election in 2018.

"I'm not leaving the Senate because I'm not tied to this institution or 'pox on all your houses,'" Flake said. "It's a wonderful institution with wonderful people.

"I simply couldn't run the kind of campaign that I felt I needed to run in this environment and succeed," he added. "That's the bottom line. But I will stay involved, certainly. I don't know at what level or in what way but this is important."

Speaking alongside Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., Flake said he was "troubled by the tone of the remarks" by Kavanaugh last week.

"The initial defense that Judge Kavanaugh gave was something like, I told my wife: 'I hope that I sound that indignant if I was unjustly maligned,'" Flake said. "But then it went on, and the interaction with the members was sharp and partisan and that concerns me."

Flake was instrumental in forcing an FBI investigation into the allegations when he said he wouldn't vote in favor of Kavanaugh's nomination in the full Senate unless there was a probe.

Also speaking at the Atlantic Festival are Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, Federal Reserve board of directors Chairman Jerome Powell, Emerson Collective founder and President Laurene Powell Jobs, ThinkFoodGroup chef and owner Jose Andres, The Race Card Project founding Director Michele Norris, Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant, counselor the president Kellyanne Conway, National Domestic Workers Alliance Executive Director Ai-jen Poo and The Atlantic editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg.

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