Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has made it clear where she lays the blame for her shock loss to Donald Trump - and she has Vladimir Putin in her sights.

Clinton has released a new book, What Happened, her long-awaited account of what went wrong in last year's presidential campaign, and she doesn't hold back on her criticism of Trump and the shadowy figures she claims put the reality star in the White House.

"There certainly was communication and there certainly was an understanding of some sort," Clinton told USA Today.

The former Secretary of State is talking about associates of Trump's she believes had a direct hand in helping him win. She doesn't say how far the association went but remains "convinced of it".


"Because there's no doubt in my mind that [Russian President] Putin wanted me to lose and wanted Trump to win. And there's no doubt in my mind that there are a tangle of financial relationships between Trump and his operation with Russian money. And there's no doubt in my mind that the Trump campaign and other associates have worked really hard to hide their connections with Russians."

She told USA Today she believed in the rule of law so wouldn't make "outrageous claims" but hinted that what she had discovered since the election last November.

Of the campaign that she begun as favourite, Clinton provided some perspective about what she thought went wrong.

"I'll always feel terrible that it happened, that I couldn't figure out how to counter all of the stuff that was coming at me in good enough, fast enough real time," she said. But she also failed to understand the depth of anger that was bubbling away in the community, she added.

United States President Donald Trump. Photo / AP
United States President Donald Trump. Photo / AP

She concedes she made mistakes - including what she said was a "boneheaded" call to use a private email server while she was Secretary of State - and putting coal miners off side with what they viewed as an attack on their occupations. She also referred to the bad look her paid for speeches to Wall St gave voters.

But Putin, her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders and then FBI director James Comey all come under fire for what she says all contributed to her failed campaign.

She said Comey's announcement 11 days before the election revealing a new batch of emails - which later turned out to be not new - cost her dearly.

"My first instinct was that my campaign should hit back hard and explain to the public that Comey had badly overstepped his bounds," she says.


"My team raised concerns with that kind of confrontational approach. In the end, we decided it would be better to just let it go and try to move on. Looking back, that was a mistake."

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo / AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo / AP

Her heated primary battle with Sanders may have also played a crucial role in lowering her in the eyes of voters, especially in key swing states, she suggests.

Of the interaction with Sanders she said: "Look, I'm pretty clear in the book about what I think he did in the 2016 primary that was damaging to my campaign against Trump.

And I contrast it with what I did at the end of the much closer, much more hard-fought 2008 primary," she said.

In the USA Today interview, she said there was likely more to emerge about the Russian hacking, and also the Wikileaks release of emails from the Democratic National Committee. And maybe even what role Trump played.

"Trump mentioned Wikileaks 160 times in October," she said.

"Why?" She suggests one possible answer: "He's trying to let people know what he thinks is important and also what he's done and what he knows about? Which I think is a fair question."