WASHINGTON - Former Secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton mocked the conclusions found by special counsel Robert Mueller during an interview Wednesday night on MSNBC.
Speaking with host Rachel Maddow, Clinton brought up the infamous moment when Donald Trump, then running against Clinton for the White House, asked for foreign help to acquire Clinton's private emails, saying at a July 2016 news conference: "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing."
While Trump told Mueller that the comments were a joke, Russian military intelligence agents within about five hours had "targeted Clinton's personal office for the first time" and "sent malicious links targeting 15 email accounts," including one belonging to a Clinton aide whose name was redacted, according to Mueller's report.
Clinton offered a hypothetical to Maddow: A Democratic candidate for the 2020 election comes on her show and says, "China, if you're listening, why don't you get Trump's tax returns. I'm sure our media would richly reward you."
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"Now, according to the Mueller report, that is not conspiracy because it's done right out in the open," Clinton pointed out, adding that in the hypothetical scenario if, "within hours, all of a sudden, the IRS offices are bombarded with incredibly sophisticated cyber tools looking for Trump's tax returns and then extracts them and then passes them to whatever the new WikiLeaks happens to be, and they start being unraveled and disclosed, nothing wrong with that."
She sarcastically added that "if you're going to let Russia get away with what they did and are still doing," why not "have a great power contest and let's get the Chinese in on the side of somebody else."
"Just saying that shows how absurd the situation we find ourselves in is," Clinton said.
In written responses to Mueller's team, Trump said his request for help from Russia was a joke. Trump said he made the statement "in jest and sarcastically" and said it should have been apparent to "any objective observer."
Trump is the first president in modern history who has not released his tax returns, citing an ongoing audit. But that hasn't stopped Democrats, who last month, requested six years of his returns from the IRS.
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Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., invoked a rarely-used law allowing a select few members of Congress to review individual tax returns for legislative purpose. In his request, Neal cited legislative proposals and oversight related to Federal tax laws as his reasoning.
The Treasury Department, which houses the IRS, has missed two deadlines set by Neal to hand over Trump's tax returns. Instead, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he wanted guidance from the Justice Department and would make a final determination by Monday.
Mnuchin, in letters to Neal, has detailed concerns related to releasing Trump's tax returns and accused Democrats of attempting to skirt the law in order to obtain the documents for political purposes.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hillary Clinton pitches a hypothetical: 'China, if you're listening, why don't you get Trump's tax returns'