During a CNN interview on Tuesday, former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein defended her refusal to fully cooperate with the Senate’s investigation of Russian meddling, arguing that her decision not to turn over some campaign communications pertaining to Russia is a matter of “principle.”
“What we didn’t turn over was material that basically protects the civil liberties of all Americans,” Stein said. “We’re standing up on a principle, and that is the principle that is part of the First Amendment — our right to, basically, freedom of association, and that needs to be protected.”
Watch the whole interview:
Stein recently announced that she would not fully cooperate with a document request from the Senate Intelligence Committee for “communications with Russian persons, or representatives of Russian government, media, or business interests.” She also refused to hand over material about her campaign’s platform on Russia.
During the CNN interview, host Chris Cuomo asked Stein — who infamously sat at the same table with former Trump administration National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the December 2015 celebration of RT in Moscow — to clarify her position on whether she thinks Russia actually interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Trump.
Stein replied by saying “it would be naive to think that Russia did not try to interfere,” but downplayed it because “that’s what the United States does” too.
“Interference is wrong and it’s an assault against democracy, and it should be pursued, but we should pursue it knowing that we do it too,” Stein said.
Cuomo pushed back, reminding Stein that she was basically using Putin’s talking points. But Stein was undeterred.
“You know, I think that kind of position which says that we’re in a totally different category from the rest of the world is not working,” Stein said. “It is part of a mindset that says, ‘we’re always right and they’re always wrong and we’re going to be dominating militarily and economically.’ We’re in a multi-polar world right now, and we need to behave as an exemplary member of the community.”
Cuomo closed the interview by asking Stein why she thought it was a good idea to travel to Moscow for the RT celebration in the first place. Stein replied by misrepresenting history, and suggested she was conducting “diplomacy,” despite the fact she’s a private citizen.
“Remember, this was 2015, and this at the time that our president, Barack Obama, was still on a track of the reboot with Russia,” Stein said. “When we use the retrospectiscope [sp], it’s important to put us in context of the time. It wasn’t nearly as controversial then as it is now. But that said, I think it’s really important — you know, diplomacy is all about talking with the people you have real problems with.”
Despite what Stein would have you believe, by December 2015, Russia had already invaded Ukraine, occupied Crimea, and passed laws cracking down on the country’s LGBT community. Stein’s trip to Moscow came just over two months after news broke that the vast majority of Russia’s declared air strikes in Syria were targeted at areas not held by ISIS — a finding that undermined the Putin’s regime assertions that its goal in the country was to defeat the group.