GREENVILLE, North Carolina — Donald Trump argued Tuesday that Hillary Clinton’s email use and her handling of classified information is “disqualifying” as he sharpened his attacks on the Democratic nominee.
Drawing on notes the FBI released four days earlier from its interview with Clinton, Trump blasted Clinton for telling the FBI at least 39 times that she could not remember details of classified information procedures and instructions. He attempted to make the case that Clinton and her aides “knowingly destroyed evidence and covered up their actions” after they used hammers to destroy at least two of Clinton’s used cell phones.
“People who have nothing to hide don’t smash phones with hammers. People who have nothing to hide don’t bleach — nobody’s even ever heard of it — their emails, or destroy evidence to keep it from being publicly archived as required under federal law,” Trump said, pointing to Clinton aides’ use of a software named BleachBit to expunge traces of deleted emails.
“Can you imagine if I, or somebody else, did that?” Trump asked the several thousand supporters gathered to hear him speak in Greenville, North Carolina.
The FBI investigated Clinton’s personal email use and while FBI director James Comey called Clinton’s handling of classified information “extremely careless,” he recommended no charges in the matter. The Justice Department followed the recommendation and did not pursue charges against Clinton or any of her aides.
The Justice Department’s decision didn’t stop Trump from arguing that Clinton is guilty of federal crimes, and his supporters agreed, repeatedly chanting, “Lock her up! Lock her up!”
“No one takes all the risks Hillary Clinton took unless they are trying to cover up massive, massive crimes,” Trump said.
The Republican nominee also slammed Clinton for telling the FBI that she did not know what the letter “C” represents in the classification system, just two days after he said in a tweet that the marking “stood for CLASSIFIED,” which is incorrect.
Trump correctly noted on Tuesday that the “C” marking means a document is “confidential,” a lower level of classification.
Trump’s attacks on Clinton came as the two traded barbs Tuesday on national security and the other’s competence to serve as commander-in-chief.
While Trump argued that “virtually every decision she’s made has been a loser,” Clinton, the former secretary of state, accused Trump of being unqualified and unprepared for the power and responsibilities of the Oval Office.
“We are going to work with our allies, not insult them. We are going to stand up to our adversaries, not cozy up to them. We are going to have real plans, not claims and secret plans,” Clinton said earlier on Tuesday.