Hillary Clintonhas described the UK government’s failure to publish a report on allegedRussian interference in British politicsbefore December’s general election as “inexplicable and shameful.”
In the UK on a book tour, the 2016 Democratic US presidential candidate said the government should release the report to give voters a full picture of how Russia seeks to influence western democracies.
“I’m dumbfounded that this government won’t release the report about Russian influence because every person who votes in this country deserves to see that report before your election happens,”Clinton told the BBCon Tuesday.
The unpublished report by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) is at the center of a storm in the UK.
CNNreported last weekthat the ISC heard warnings that Russia’s influence reaches deep into the British establishment and not enough had been done to counter the threat. One witness described Russian influence as “potentially the most significant threat to the UK’s institutions and its ways of life,” according to written testimony reviewed by CNN.
The ISC report was completed in March and submitted to Downing Street on October 17 after a lengthy period of clearance with the security services.
But the government did not publish it before parliament was dissolved last week ahead of an election on December 12, and it may now be months before it sees the light of day.
Opposition politicians have accused the government of a cover-up, saying the report could raise awkward questions about the validity of the Brexit referendum in 2016 and expose the alleged Russian connections of some in the ruling Conservative party.
The government has said the failure to publish it before parliament was dissolved last week was routine. “It is absolutely normal that reports like this go through a period of vetting which does take several weeks,” finance minister Rishi Sunak told ITV on Tuesday, in comments reported by Reuters.
Donations to the Conservative party were transparent and conformed to British political donation rules, he said.
Clinton said she could not understand why the report had not been published. “There is no doubt — we know it in our country, we have seen it in Europe, we have seen it here — that Russia in particular is determined to try to shape the politics of western democracies,” Clinton told BBC Radio 4’s Today program. “Not to our benefit, but to theirs.”
In another interview on BBC Radio 5 Live, Clinton said: “I find it inexplicable that your government will not release a government report about Russian influence. Inexplicable and shameful.”
Speaking to the Guardian, Clinton said: “Who do they think they are that they would keep information like that from the public, especially before an election? Well, I’ll tell you who they think they are. They think that they are the all-powerful, strong men who should be ruling,”
The ISC chair, Dominic Grieve, has accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of sitting on the report and claimed Downing Street had given “bogus” explanations for not publishing it.
Grieve, a former attorney general who was expelled from the parliamentary Conservative party for voting against the government over Brexit, told the House of Commons last week that it was usual practice for Downing Street to approve ISC publications within 10 days. The report may not now be published for months, he said, as ISC reports can only be released when parliament is sitting and the committee is constituted.