Hillary Clinton has called Downing Street’s suppression of a report into potential Russian infiltration of British politics “damaging, inexplicable and shaming”.
The 2016 US presidential candidate told the Guardian it was “incredibly surprising and unacceptable that in your country there is a government report sitting there about Russian influence and your current government isn’t releasing it”.
The potentially incendiary report by the intelligence and security committee has already been approved by the intelligence agencies. Downing Street was sent a final draft on 17 October and had been expected to sign off the report by the end of last month.
However, No 10 indicated that the parliamentary report would not be made public before the election, citing a sign-off process that it said could take six weeks. The chairman of the committee, Dominic Grieve, called the decision to delay publication “jaw-dropping”.
Clinton said: “I mean, who do they think they are that they would keep information like that from the public, especially before an election?
“Well, I’ll tell you who they think they are. They think that they are the all-powerful, strong men who should be ruling,” she said, linking the suppression of the report to a rising authoritarian turn in western leaders.
The report specifically examines attempts by Russia to affect the outcome of the 2016 Brexit referendum.
That there was Russian influence in the 2016 presidential campaign is now widely accepted – though denied by Donald Trump who describes it as “a hoax”.
Clinton said: “Someone said to me: ‘Quit with the Russians’. “I said: ‘I’ll quit with the Russians when the Russians quit with us’. That’s how I feel.”
She left open the possibility of a presidential run in 2020. “I would have been a good president, so obviously that lives in the back of my head. I’m going to do everything I possibly can to make sure we retire the current incumbent.”
Speaking earlier, at the Royal Festival Hall in London on Sunday, Clinton said she was afraid to see Britain “sort of shrink up and turn inward”.
She was anxious, she said, about Britain trying “to separate yourselves from Europe at a time when democracies need to stick together because we are truly under pressure from dictatorships and authoritarian regimes”.
At the event promoting The Book of Gutsy Women, co-authored with her daughter, Chelsea, the former US secretary of state said: “I am, as a great admirer of Britain, concerned, because I can’t make sense of what is happening.
“We have a president who admires dictators and takes their help and does all kinds of crazy stuff. So we need you to be the sane member of this partnership going forward.”
• The full interview with Hillary and Chelsea Clinton will appear in Guardian Review on Saturday 16 November.