Hillary Clinton is blaming Russian interference for her loss in the U.S. presidential election, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin may have wanted to meddle in the race because of a "personal beef" against her.
Clinton, who has kept a low profile since her election defeat in November, made the remarks to campaign donors in New York City on Thursday night.
According to audio recordings of the event, first reported by The New York Times, Clinton said, "Putin himself directed the covert cyberattacks against our electoral system, against our democracy, apparently because he has a personal beef against me."
The CIA has concluded that Russian hackers broke into Democratic Party computers to leak potentially embarrassing emails about the Clinton presidential campaign, with the apparent aim of helping Republican Donald Trump win last month's election.
Moscow called the allegation "laughable nonsense."
The Democratic presidential candidate said the reason for Putin's dislike of her was that when she was secretary of state, she said Russia's 2011 parliamentary elections were fraudulent.
During the remarks to donors, Clinton also discussed FBI Director James Comey, whom she previously blamed for contributing to her defeat in the election. She said Comey's decision to revisit her private email server in the final days before the election cost her close races in several states.
However, Clinton focused much of her remarks on Russia and said there should be an independent investigation into Russian interference in the election.
"This is part of a long-drawn strategy to cause us to doubt ourselves and to create the circumstances in which Americans either wittingly or unwittingly will begin to cede their freedoms to a much more powerful state," she said. "This is an attack on our country."
Her remarks came as President Barack Obama said Friday during a news conference that he spoke with Putin in September about the alleged hacking of the Democratic Party computers. He said the hacking did not continue after that conversation.
When asked whether he thought the hacking was responsible for Clinton's election loss, Obama did not answer directly. "I'm going to let all the pundits in this town have a lot of discussions about that," he said.