Hillary Clinton joked Wednesday that she took President Donald Trump’s use of the non-word “covfefe” in a late-night tweet as a dispatch to Russia.
Trump tweeted shortly after midnight: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe” — an incomplete thought that had Webster’s dictionary at a loss for words.
“I thought it was a hidden message to the Russians,” Clinton quipped to Kara Swisher on Wednesday at Recode’s Code Conference.
Clinton later painted covfefe as a distraction for the White House.
“You can’t let Trump and his allies be a diversion,” the failed Democratic presidential nominee warned in response to an audience question. “They are a threat, and they have been effective up until now.”
Clinton highlighted Twitter as the perfect example, suggesting the meaning of the president’s sometimes obscure tweets “drive up the numbers” and cause more people to chase “rabbits down rabbit holes.”
“You’ve got all kinds of stuff happening. Why?” she asked. “To divert attention. It’s like covfefe — trending worldwide. Maybe for a minute you’ll forget the latest accusations about them conspiring with Russia or their trillion-dollar mathematical mistake in their budget or depriving 23 million people of health care. You know, it’s the circus, right?”
Clinton contended that “it’s what a classic authoritarian does.”
“It’s not just about influencing your institutions, your values,” she explained. “They wanna influence your reality. And that, you know, that to me is what we’re up against, and we can’t let that go unanswered.”
Hours after Trump blasted covfefe into the world’s lexicon, the president deleted the tweet but teased: “Who can figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’ ??? Enjoy!”
The White House press corps looked to the administration for answers at Wednesday afternoon’s off-camera briefing, but press secretary Sean Spicer refused to enlighten reporters.
“The president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant,” Spicer said, skipping over questions about what the term means.