NEW YORK, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Hillary Clinton told her donors that Russian President Vladimir Putin's alleged involvement in hacking Democratic computers during the 2016 presidential election stems from the Russian leader's longtime "personal beef" against her.
The Democratic presidential candidate told her donors Thursday night in Manhattan that Putin has been holding a grudge since 2011 when she was secretary of state and made comments that were critical of Russia's parliamentary elections.
"Putin publicly blamed me for the outpouring of outrage by his own people, and that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this election," Clinton said, according to The New York Times.
These were her first comments since it was reported this week that U.S. intelligence officials believe Putin approved the Russian government involvement in the cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails with the hope to influence the election.
"Make no mistake, as the press is finally catching up to the facts, which we desperately tried to present to them during the last months of the campaign," Clinton told the group. "This is not just an attack on me and my campaign, although that may have added fuel to it. This is an attack against our country. We are well beyond normal political concerns here. This is about the integrity of our democracy and the security of our nation."
Clinton, who has kept a low profile since the election, also attributed her defeat to a letter by FBI Director James B. Comey shortly before the election that the agency would be further investigating her use of a personal email server. But nine days later, on Nov. 6, two days before the election, Comey announced the FBI concluded emails found on a computer used by Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, didn't warrant legal charges.
ABC News reported some attendees cried while Clinton spoke. But an upbeat Clinton encouraged attendees to help elect Democrats to office and remain involved in the party.
On Friday morning, President-elect Donald Trump posted on Twitter: "Are we talking about the same cyberattack where it was revealed that head of the DNC illegally gave Hillary the questions to the debate?"