Hillary Clinton ‘sorry’ that Merkel’s phone was tapped


Former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton leaves the Elysee Palace in Paris after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande on July 8. (Michel Euler/AP)

Former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton said in an interview published Tuesday that it was wrong for U.S. intelligence officials to spy on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone and said she is "sorry" that it happened.

"Clearly, the surveillance on Chancellor Merkel's phone was absolutely wrong. The president said that. I think that he made it very clear it was unacceptable," Clinton told Germany's Der Spiegel news magazine. She added, "I'm not in the government anymore, but I'm sorry."

In the interview, Clinton rejected the notion that the American political process is beginning to resemble a monarchy, given the dominance of her family and the Bush family. She also defended the money she and Bill Clinton have made over the years, signaled openness to daughter Chelsea Clinton entering politics and criticized former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

"We are very grateful for where we are today. But if you were to go back and look at the amount of money that we owed, we couldn't even get a mortgage on a house by ourselves. In our system, he had to make double what he needed in order just to pay off the debt, and then to finance a house and continue to pay for our daughter's education," Clinton said in a discussion about her family's finances.

When asked about dynasties, Clinton said: "We had two Roosevelts. We had two Adams. It may be that certain families just have a sense of commitment or even a predisposition to want to be in politics. I ran for president, as you remember. I lost to somebody named Barack Obama, so I don't think there is any guarantee in American politics. My last name did not help me in the end. Our system is open to everyone. It is not a monarchy in which I wake up in the morning and abdicate in favor of my son."

Clinton said Snowden has fallen short with his attempt to raise the issue of domestic surveillance among the American people.

"I think he is a poor messenger for the message that he's trying to take credit for," she said. "He came into the National Security Agency apparently with the purpose of trying to gather a lot of information, and most of what he gathered had nothing to do with surveillance in the United States, but obviously around the world."

Sean Sullivan covers national politics for “The Fix.”
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