Hillary Clinton swipes at Trump, Putin during portrait unveiling

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(WASHINGTON) -- At an event Tuesday highlighting her contributions to American diplomacy as the 67th secretary of state, Hillary Clinton barbed her political rivals, issuing thinly veiled criticisms of her one-time presidential opponent Donald Trump and taking direct aim at Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

After being introduced by current Secretary of State Antony Blinken, she thanked him for the contributions he had made so far, remarking that at one point it would have been nearly unthinkable for the United States and its allies to remain united behind Ukraine because of what she described as damage done during the Trump administration -- without ever calling out the former president by name.

"We had burned so bridges with our allies and our friends, so reinstating a foreign policy that plays to the best of American values, that puts our interests and security front and center but does it in a way that actually brings people to us, not pushes them away -- would have been thought to be extremely difficult, and indeed it was," she said at the State Department ceremony. "But it was accomplished."

Before the veil was dropped from her portrait, which depicts the former first lady standing in front of an American flag, Clinton commented that it had been a long time since she had seen the painting "between Covid, between not wanting to finish it during the last administration," drawing laughter from the crowd of State Department employees and other guests.

Clinton also took time to thank the current and former Foreign Service officers and civil servants in the room for their contributions, calling their often-unsung work "vital to our nation's security" and enumerating their accomplishments during her time in office and after.

"We continued to build on our human rights commitments, women's rights, gay rights, the rights of all people to have a chance to live up to their own God-given potential. And we have seen the continuation of a lot of the values and priorities that we worked on into the Biden administration, in looking across the globe, defending democracy in Ukraine, expanding NATO," she said.

"Just as an aside: Too bad, Vladimir. You brought it on yourself," Clinton quipped, referencing Putin's invasion of Ukraine, where fighting has reached a stalemate more than a year into the war despite bullish early predictions about Russia's chances of success.

In his remarks introducing Clinton, Blinken extolled her trailblazing stances and said he admired her tough approach to Russia.

"A lot of what's now recognized as universal, what's commonly accepted, Secretary Clinton helped make it that way. She led with America's values and interests, calling out Putin for who he really is from the start," he said.

"Secretary Clinton has often said that America's leadership in the world is like a relay race. Presidents, secretaries, entire generations are handed the baton and asked to run a leg of the race and then hand it off as best we can," Blinken added. "Secretary Clinton, your leg of the race helped revitalize the power and the purpose of American diplomacy. It reminded the world of who America is, what we stand for, and helped us achieve our mission."

Clinton was accompanied on the stage by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and Blinken's wife, Evan Ryan.

In his speech, Blinken thanked Clinton for indirectly introducing him to Ryan when they both worked at the White House during her time as first lady.

"I spent an inordinate amount of time in the first lady's office on the other end of the old executive office building and also in the East Wing. And that was, in fairness, all because a certain member of her staff," he said, referencing Ryan. "Of all the things I have gratitude for the Clintons for, number one is bringing my wife Evan into my life."

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