She hasn’t been so uncouth as to say “I told you so,” but Hillary Clinton could be forgiven a certain sense of internal smugness, even a slice of sweet revenge, with many of her warnings about the potential worst excesses of a President Donald Trump now proving to be strikingly accurate.
In the run up to the 2016 US presidential election, Ms Clinton repeatedly imagined what a Trump White House would look like.
At the time, the warnings were brushed aside; an ascendant Mr Trump won the election with relative ease.
Mr Trump chalked up some successes during his single term. The economy continued to grow and unemployment fell – at least until COVID-19 hit. And the administration helped broker the resumption of diplomatic relations between Israel and a number of former foes, something that had eluded presidents past.
Those predictions included that Mr Trump would frame any defeat as being “rigged” and he would falter in a crisis harming Americans in the process.
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“If you go back and review Hillary’s speeches and tweets and debate performances from 2016 – she was right about an awful lot,” Jennifer Senior, a senior editor at the New York Times, said in November.
“Not about everything. She had her share of lulus, like predicting that the election of Trump would set off a global financial panic and plunge the economy into a recession. (Oops. Took a pandemic to do that.)
“But she did have some strikingly good insights,” Ms Senior said.
‘PEOPLE GET HURT’
One of those insights came in a June 2016 speech on the economy, delivered in Ohio. It was five months to election day.
“ (Mr Trump) makes over-the-top promises that if people stick with him, trust him, listen to him, put their faith in him, he’ll deliver for them, and he’ll make them wildly successful.
“Then everything falls apart and then people get hurt,” she said.
Mr Trump spent much of 2020 making an over-the-top promise, with no scientific basis, that coronavirus would vanish.
In February, he said the virus would be gone by April, “as the heat comes in”.
“Just stay calm. It will go away,” he said in March. “It is dying out,” he said in June.
“I think that, at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear,” he said in July.
There have now been 22 million COVID-19 cases and 350,000 deaths in the US involving the virus.
‘IMAGINE TRUMP IN A CRISIS’
In the same 2016 speech, Ms Clinton also pondered how Mr Trump might deal with a crisis. From the pandemic to Black Lives Matter demonstrations, the devastating Puerto Rico hurricane to the deadly Charlottesville car attack, the US has faced a number of those since he came to office
“Now, just imagine if you can: Donald Trump sitting in the Oval Office, the next time America faces a crisis. Imagine him being in charge when your jobs and savings are at stake.
“Is this who you want to lead us in an emergency? Someone thin-skinned and quick to anger who’d likely be on Twitter attacking reporters or bringing the whole regulatory system down on his critics when he should be focused on fixing what’s wrong? Would he even know what to do?”
In October 2016, Ms Clinton said in a presidential debate that a Trump president would be a puppet for Russian leader Vladimir Putin and that he had “failed to admit that Russia has engaged with cyber attacks against the US”. He was a “puppet” she said, to which Mr Trump replied “you’re the puppet”.
The Mueller Report, handed down in 2019, found that Russia had indeed influenced the election in Mr Trump’s favour spreading “disinformation” and “violated US criminal law”. Although the report could not establish a link between the Trump campaign to the Russian interference.
‘EVERY TIME, ‘IT’S RIGGED’’
Perhaps the most prescient of the failed presidential candidate’s predictions, however, was around the character of the eventual winner. Particularly, his apparent inability to understand that he can, sometimes, lose.
“Every time Donald thinks things are not going in his direction, he claims whatever it is, is rigged against him,” she said in a debate, also in October 2016.
“The FBI conducted a year-long investigation into my emails; they concluded there was no case – he said the FBI was rigged.
“He lost the Iowa caucus and the Wisconsin primary; he said the Republican primary was rigged against him.
“The Trump University gets sued for fraud and racketeering; he claims the court system and the federal judge is rigged against him.
“There was even a time when he didn’t get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row, and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged.”
“I should have got that,” Mr Trump interjected to laughter.
But Ms Clinton continued.
“This is a mindset. This is how Donald thinks. And it’s funny, but it’s also really troubling. That is not the way our democracy works.”
She then directly addressed statements made by Mr Trump prior to the 2016 poll where he said he might not accept the election result unless he was the winner.
“We’ve been around for 240 years. We’ve had free and fair elections. We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them,” she said.
“I for one am appalled that somebody who is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that kind of position.”
Four years later, and Mr Trump has spent the best part of six weeks claiming the 2020 election was rigged and that he actually won in a “landslide”. Yet, the Trump campaign has lost a slew of court cases focused on fanciful claims of voter fraud in an attempt to overturn the result. Even his own Attorney-General concluded there was no fraud detected that could have unfairly swung the poll.
On November 25, in a tweet, Mr Trump used the exact terminology highlighted by Ms Clinton back in 2016.
“This election was rigged and we can’t let that happen,” he wrote.
In June 2016, Ms Clinton urged Mr Trump to “delete your account” on Twitter. On January 9, Twitter did just that.
Of course, Mr Trump has made a number of predictions about his presidential rival. Chiefly that she would go to jail. Chants of “lock her up,” have echoed at his rallies. This prediction has not come to pass.