Fact Check

Hillary Clinton Said 'There Is a Yearning for Leaders Who Can Kill and Imprison Their Opponents'?

"And I find that absolutely, gobsmacking terrifying."

Published Feb 8, 2024

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during an unveiling of her portrait at the State Department on Sept. 26, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Image Via Alex Wong/Getty Images
Former U.S. Secretary State Hillary Clinton said of some U.S. citizens in February 2024, "There is a yearning for leaders who can kill and imprison their opponents, destroy the press [and] lead a life that is one of impunity, unbound by any laws."

In February 2024, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concerns about some Americans "yearning for leaders who can kill and imprison their opponents, destroy the press [and] lead a life that is one of impunity, unbound by any laws."

Clinton's remarks were made during an interview with MSNBC host Alex Wagner.

In one brief video clip from the interview broadcast on Feb. 7, Wagner asked Clinton about the news that conservative commentator Tucker Carlson had announced that he was interviewing Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In response, Clinton called Carlson "a useful idiot" and accurately referenced the fact that he had previously parted ways (or been fired) as a host at CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. She also expressed concerns over the fact that she believed some Americans think highly of Putin, which led to her remark about there being a "yearning" for harsh leaders.

Snopes transcribed the complete clip below:

WAGNER: Tucker Carlson is in Moscow right now interviewing Vladimir Putin.


WAGNER: The first American, I'll say, journalist, to interview Putin since the war in Ukraine began. What does that tell you about Tucker Carlson and right-wing media and also Vladimir Putin?

CLINTON: Well, it shows me what I think we've all known. He's what's called a useful idiot. I mean, if you actually read translations of what's being said on Russian media, they make fun of him. I mean, he's like a puppy dog. You know, he somehow has, after having been fired from so many outlets in the United States, he – I would not be surprised if he emerges with a contract with a Russian outlet because he is a useful idiot. He says things that are not true. He parrots Vladimir Putin's pack of lies about Ukraine. So, I don't see why Putin wouldn't give him an interview because, through him, he can continue to lie about what his objectives are in Ukraine, and what he expects to see happen.

It's really quite sad that, not just somebody like Tucker Carlson who has, as I said, been fired so many times because he seems unable to correlate his reporting with the truth, but also because it's a sign that there are people in this country right now who are like a fifth column for Vladimir Putin. And why? I don't know. I mean, why are certain Republicans throwing their lot in? Why are other Americans basically believing Putin? Why did Trump believe Putin more than our 11 intelligence agencies?

WAGNER: (laughs) Hmm, I don't know. Do you have a working theory on that?

CLINTON: I do have a working theory. But it's more than the political partisan advantage. There is a yearning for leaders who can kill and imprison their opponents, destroy the press [and] lead a life that is one of impunity, unbound by any laws. There's a yearning among certain people in our country for that kind of leadership. And I find that absolutely, gobsmacking terrifying.

The video clip can be watched on MSNBC.com and YouTube.


“‘He Is a Useful Idiot’: Hillary Clinton Scorns Tucker Carlson over Putin Interview.” MSNBC.com, 7 Feb. 2024, https://www.msnbc.com/alex-wagner-tonight/watch/-he-is-a-useful-idiot-hillary-clinton-scorns-tucker-carlson-over-putin-interview-203835461511.

“---.” YouTube, MSNBC, 7 Feb. 2024, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9eluXpg9BQ.

Kaye, Chris. “Tucker Carlson Has Now Parted Ways with 3 Major Cable News Networks.” Business Insider, 24 Apr. 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/tucker-carlson-has-parted-ways-with-fox-msnbc-and-cnn-2023-4.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.