Republican Donald Trump Tuesday delivered a stinging rebuke of Democrat Hillary Clinton’s “disqualifying” conduct as secretary of state and her aides’ use of computer software and more mundane tools to destroy evidence.
In some of his strongest language yet concerning details that the FBI released of its investigation into Clinton’s handling of classified material, Trump told an enthusiastic crowd in Greenville, North Carolina, that the former secretary of state failed to “meet the minimum standard” for seeking and holding public office.
“If she applied for a low-level job at the State Department today — just a low-level job — she couldn’t even get a security clearance based on what she’s done.”
“If she applied for a low-level job at the State Department today — just a low-level job — she couldn’t even get a security clearance based on what she’s done,” he said.
At one point, the crowd broke into a chant of “Lock her up! Lock her up!” Trump responded, “Let’s do better than that. Let’s win on Nov. 8.”
Trump repeated the main revelations from last week’s FBI release, point by point. Clinton told investigators 39 separate times that she could not remember details about her handling of classified information, including even one step she took to prevent foreign hackers from accessing the “totally illegal server” she had installed in the basement of her home to bypass the government system.
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“It’s clear from the FBI report that Hillary Clinton lied about her handling of confidential information,” Trump said. “She repeatedly told the country that she understood the classified system, then she told the FBI she didn’t understand that the letter ‘C’ meant confidential or even classified in the documents she emailed.”
Clinton’s insecure emails included discussions about drone strikes, Trump pointed out. He said it is clear from the FBI report that Clinton and her top aides destroyed evidence and covered up their actions. His remarks came on a day that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) requested the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia open an obstruction of justice investigation of Clinton.
Trump noted the FBI report revealed that a contractor working for Clinton used a software program called BleachBit to destroy emails beyond recovery in March last year — after The New York Times reported the existence of Clinton’s private server and after Congress issued a subpoena directing that email records be preserved.
Trump ridiculed Clinton’s assertion that she deleted only personal emails, involving matters such as yoga and daughter Chelsea’s wedding. “I figure five for the wedding and two for the yoga,” he ad-libbed in a line that did not appear in the written text of the speech.
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Trump characterized the conduct of Clinton and her aides as more akin to a mob boss than a public servant.
“They used hammers to destroy phones so they couldn’t be turned over, and by the way, who uses 13 different iPhones in four years? Who?” he asked. “The only people who use that many phones are usually involved in very, very — and I mean very — shady activity. And now she’s running for president.”
Trump added, “People who have nothing to hide don’t smash phones with hammers. They don’t.”
Trump ad-libbed a line envisioning the reaction if he behaved similarly.
“Can you imagine if I or someone else did that?” he asked. “Can you imagine if [former New York Mayor] Rudy Giuliani did that — Oh, Rudy, you’d be in so much trouble.”
Trump said Clinton failed to turn over thousands of emails and documents and then tried to “shield her criminal conduct” by having Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills declare herself Clinton’s private attorney.
“This is like a third-world country, folks,” he said in another deviation from the prepared speech. “This is like Watergate, only it’s worse.”
Trump added, “No one takes all the risks Hillary Clinton took unless they are trying to cover up massive, massive crimes.”
Trump then turned his attention to the other brewing Clinton scandal — allegations that she traded personal favors and access to mega-donors to the Clinton Foundation.
“It’s called pay for play,” he said.
Trump cited one example that could be of interest to the significant Haitian community in the all-important swing state of Florida. The brothers of Bill and Hillary Clinton signed deals to build housing after an earthquake ravaged the island nation. A $2 million housing expo for thousand of house units never came to fruition. The Government Accountability Office cited poor planning and unsustainable outcomes for taxpayer-funded projects, including a $170 million power plant the Clinton Foundation had promoted.
Trump also accused Clinton of setting aside environmental and labor rules to help a South Korean company with a record of violating workers’ rights set up “what amounts to a sweat shop” in Haiti. The facility has produced only a fraction of the jobs it promised and faces reports of wage theft, Trump said.
“People are asking: Where did all the money go?” he said.