WikiLeaks documents show Hillary Clinton discussed Syria with bankers in 2013 speeches

Hillary Clinton and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein
(Image credit: Stephen Chernin/AFP/Getty Images)

WikiLeaks added to its collection of published emails purportedly stolen from the inbox of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and among this eighth batch on Saturday were excerpts of three speeches Clinton apparently gave to banks in 2013, months after stepping down as secretary of state. In one speech, The New York Times reports, Clinton expanded on her public support for intervening more forcefully in the Syrian civil war. "My view was you intervene as covertly as is possible for Americans to intervene," she said, adding that "we used to be much better at this than we are now," when officials "can't help themselves" and go "tell their friendly reporters and somebody else: 'Look what we're doing, and I want credit for it.'"

There are risks to a "no-fly zone" in Syria, Clinton said, where the U.S. would "have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we're not putting our pilots at risk — you're going to kill a lot of Syrians. So all of a sudden this intervention that people talk about so glibly becomes an American and NATO involvement where you take a lot of civilians."

Clinton also shared with the bankers her first-person assessments of Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom she appears to admire; North Korea's Kim Jong Un; and Russian President Vladimir Putin, believed to be behind the cyber-espionage against Democrats this year. In one speech, Clinton recounted a conversation she had with an Australian leader in 2009 about China's claims to the South China Sea:

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I made the point at one point in the argument that, you know, you can call it whatever you want to call it. You don't have a claim to all of it. I said, by that argument, you know, the United States should claim all of the Pacific. We liberated it, we defended it. We have as much claim to all of the Pacific. And we could call it the American Sea, and it could go from the West Coast of California all the way to the Philippines.... And, you know, my counterpart sat up very straight and goes, "Well, you can't do that." [Clinton, via WikiLeaks]

The Clinton campaign is focusing on Russia's suspected role in WikiLeaks' operation, comparing the cyber-espionage to the Watergate break-in that brought down Richard Nixon.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.