Friday's speech comes as Clinton has appeared increasingly willing to speak in public after her defeat in November
In a CNN interview, Clinton referred to herself as "a private citizen and part of the resistance"
Back on campus 48 years later, Hillary Clinton didn’t hold back.
In a fiery commencement speech at her alma mater of Wellesley College on Friday, Clinton went after President Donald Trump and the controversies that are swirling around him, comparing his imperiled presidency to that of Richard Nixon’s.
“We were furious about the past presidential election of a man whose presidency would eventually end in disgrace with his impeachment for obstruction of justice, after firing the person running the investigation into him at the Department of Justice,” Clinton said, discussing the sentiment on campus the year that she graduated.
The former presidential nominee’s sharp remarks – met with thunderous applause and cheers from the graduating class – was yet another sign of Clinton’s increasing eagerness to publicly take on the man who handed her a second failed presidential bid.
Clinton’s comments also appeared to suggest she might even be relishing the deepening crisis at the Trump White House as it confronts a barrage of accusations of colluding with the Russians. Clinton’s reference to Nixon’s firing of an investigator was a clear knock at Trump’s controversial decision to sack his former FBI Director James Comey. Since Comey’s ouster, the President has been accused of urging Comey to end a probe into his ex-national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
Clinton went on to take other thinly veiled digs at Trump, saying that “when people in power invent their own facts and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society.”
“You are graduating at a time when there is a full-fledged assault on truth and reason,” she added. “Some are even denying things we see with our own eyes. Like the size of crowds.”
Just how close Clinton came to the presidency was a running theme throughout Friday’s ceremony.
Wellesley College president Paula Johnson noted in her introduction of Clinton that the famous alum almost broke the “highest, hardest glass ceiling.”
“And she won the popular vote,” Johnson added for good measure.
The student speaker, Tala Nashawati – a Middle Eastern Studies major from Ohio and the daughter of two Syrian immigrants – quoted from Clinton’s concession speech to Trump.
“In the words of Secretary Clinton: Never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance in the world to pursue your dreams,” Nashawati said. “To add to her wise words, let me say: Never doubt that you are durable. You are valuable. You are and unique.”
Clinton herself joked that she got through the aftermath of the election with the help of friends, family and wine.
“Long walks in the woods. Organizing my closets,” she said. “Chardonnay helped a little too.”
Clinton’s commencement speech came more than six months after her defeat to Trump, and almost five decades after a young Hillary Rodham’s speech at her own graduation thrust her into the national spotlight.
Clinton, now 69, got her diploma from the women’s liberal arts college outside of Boston in 1969. The fact that Clinton, who was class president, would speak before her peers on graduation day was remarkable on its own: Prior to that year, the college had never had a student commencement speaker.