The third and final presidential debate took place on Wednesday night, less than three weeks before Election Day. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had their most substantial discussion about cyberwarefare — and the Russian government’s role in the WikiLeaks revelations — since Trump blamed it all on a mythical 400-pound hacker in the first one.
After discussing border security, moderator Chris Wallace asked Clinton about a speech she gave to a Brazilian bank that WikiLeaks uncovered, where she said her dream was “a hemispheric common market with open trade and open borders.”
“Well, if you went on to read the rest of the sentence, I was talking about energy,” Clinton responded, before telling Wallace that the bigger issue was the Russian government’s role in espionage against America.
“This has come from the highest levels of the Russian government, clearly from Putin himself, in an effort — as 17 of our intelligence agencies have confirmed — to influence our election,” she said, and then went on to criticize Trump’s nonchalant stance on Russian espionage.
I actually think the most important question of this evening, Chris, is, finally, will Donald Trump admit and condemn that the Russians are doing this, and make it clear that he will not have the help of Putin in this election — that he rejects Russian espionage against Americans, which he has actually encouraged in the past. Those are the questions we need answered. We never had anything like this happen in any of our elections before.
Trump went back, briefly, to discussing borders before defending himself. “I don’t know Putin,” Trump said. “He said nice things about me.”
“He has no respect for her, he has no respect for our president,” Trump continued.
“From everything I said, Putin has no respect for this person,” Trump said, referring to Clinton.
“Well that’s because he’d rather have a puppet as President of the United States,” Clinton fired back.
“You’re the puppet!” Trump interrupted.
Slightly later in the debate, Trump again tried to cast doubt on the fact that Russia was behind the DNC hacks. “She has no idea whether it’s Russia, China, or somebody else,” Trump argued.
“I am not quoting myself, I am quoting 17 intelligence agencies,” Clinton said, once again stating that she found the Russian espionage — and Trump’s willful ignorance of it — deeply disturbing.
Watch the debate below.Photos via Getty Images / Win McNamee, Getty Images / Drew Angerer