Hillary Clinton appeared to clandestinely mock former President Donald Trump after she expressed her well wishes to Angela Merkel, the outgoing German Chancellor who stepped down yesterday, ending a 16-year run as Germany's leader.
Writing on Twitter, Clinton praised Merkel for leading Europe "through difficult times with steadiness and bravery," adding that "for four long years, she was the leader of the free world."
Clinton is far from the first to refer to Merkel as "the leader of the free world," a term often associated with the American President.
Indeed, former President Trump's tenure has been largely perceived by the international community as a period when the United States abdicated its leadership in his pursuit of a more isolationist and protectionist foreign policy.
Several news outlets went so far as to refer to Merkel as "the leader of the free world," as when The Washington Post, in a 2016 report, noted that Merkel "became leader of the free world’” during Trump’s term.
Eagle-eyed social media users did not miss the jab, though, and made clear that they were in on the joke.
Clinton's tweet to Merkel came the same day she read the speech she had hoped to deliver on the evening of the 2016 general election she ultimately lost to Trump.
Trump often cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election he supposedly won almost from the moment Clinton conceded and regularly attacked her while in office.
In 2017, Trump called for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate Clinton for "all of the dishonesty," which came as then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives escalated.
Clinton has also often faced calls to "lock her up" since the 2016 general election.
In July 2016, Trump, then a presidential candidate, invited Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's emails, asking the Kremlin to find "the 30,000 emails that are missing" from the personal server she used during her tenure as Secretary of State.
Trump's remarks shocked the Clinton campaign–to say nothing of the world–and many perceived them as a potential threat to national security. Trump, as he does with most criticism, shrugged off these concerns. He made the request of the Russians on July 27, 2016.
And on that same day, according to an indictment that the Justice Department released in July 2018, the Russians took Trump up on his offer.
The indictment details that "on or about July 27, 2016, the Conspirators attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton's personal office."
The news prompted political commentators and members of the media to call out their colleagues for spending so much time focusing on the stories about Clinton's emails rather than the specter of Russian collusion that lingered over the country even before the 2016 presidential election was in full swing.