MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow hesitant to ask Hillary Clinton about her role in Russia controversy

Maddow allows Clinton to dismiss DNI John Ratcliffe’s letter as a distraction

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow sheepishly confronted Hillary Clinton on Tuesday about her role in the Russia scandal, hours after the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) declassified information indicating that Clinton was attempting to tie President Trump to the Russia before the 2016 presidential election -- but the liberal host admitted she didn't want to mention it in the first place.

DNI director John Ratcliffe informed the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Obama administration obtained Russian intelligence in July of 2016 with allegations against Clinton, but cautioned that the intelligence community (IC) "does not know the accuracy of this allegation or the extent to which the Russian intelligence analysis may reflect exaggeration or fabrication."

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow sheepishly confronted Hillary Clinton on Tuesday about her role in the Russia scandal. (Getty Images)

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow sheepishly confronted Hillary Clinton on Tuesday about her role in the Russia scandal. (Getty Images)

Clinton appeared on MSNBC’s pre-debate program following the information becoming public, but the network’s biggest star was admittedly hesitant to bother asking about it.

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“Madam Secretary, thank you again for being here. I almost hesitate to ask you your reaction to [Republicans] doing this, but I must,” Maddow asked.

“Sure, why not, I mean, it is a sign of such desperation by the Republicans,” Clinton said. “It also is a reminder that Donald Trump knows that the Russians helped him win in 2016 and that is almost the biggest reason he wants to go back to it time and time again, because he can’t come to grips with the fact that there will always be an air of illegitimacy around the 2016 campaign.”

Clinton went on, insisting that Trump is “always trying to change the subject” and feels Ratcliffe's letter is the latest example.

“Trying to somehow cast aspersions on anyone... I happen to be one of his favorite subjects for aspersion casting but mostly it’s just pathetic and a sign of their desperation. They know they’re losing and they’re not just losing in the presidency, they’re losing in the Senate, they’re losing across the board,” Clinton continued. “I think the American people are taking a hard look at Donald Trump and his Republican enablers and saying, ‘Wait a minute, we can’t let this go on.’”

Grabien founder Tom Elliot wrote that Maddow, who is an opinion host despite being part of MSNBC’s political coverage, “almost apologizes” for asking about the declassified information.

Ratcliffe's letter doesn't offer specifics on the intelligence but does reveal that former CIA Director John Brennan's handwritten notes show that he briefed Obama on the information. According to his letter, the intelligence included the "alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016 of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisors to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services."

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In a statement on the letter, Ratcliffe pushed back on the idea he was advancing "Russian disinformation." "To be clear, this is not Russian disinformation and has not been assessed as such by the Intelligence Community. I’ll be briefing Congress on the sensitive sources and methods by which it was obtained in the coming days.”

Politico reported that Nick Merrill, Clinton's spokesperson, called the allegations "baseless b------t."

Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report.