Greenville, N.C. — Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump waged a withering attack on Democratic rival Hillary Clinton over new revelations about deleted emails from a private server she used while secretary of state.
The FBI last week released notes of its interviews with Clinton and top aides from a now-closed investigation of the use of the private email server. Clinton and her legal team deleted thousands of emails she claims were personal and private, but the FBI report details steps taken by Clinton's staff that appear intended to hamper the recovery of deleted data, including smashing her old Blackberry smartphones with a hammer and using special software to wipe the hard drive of the server.
"Who uses 13 different (cellphones) in four years? The only people who use that many phones are usually involved in very, very and I mean very shady activity," Trump told a raucous crowd at the Greenville Convention Center. "This is a phony group of lying people."
Trump's rally, which had been billed as an immigration address but included few comments on the issue, closed out a hectic rush of presidential politicking in North Carolina on Tuesday. Earlier, Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine appeared in Wilmington, while former President Bill Clinton stopped in Durham on behalf of his wife.
Clinton should have been prosecuted, but the Obama administration and the media are protecting her, Trump insisted. The crowd responded with chants of "lock her up."
"No one takes all of the risks Hillary Clinton took unless they are trying to cover up massive, massive crimes," he said. "This is like a third-world country, folks. It's terrible. This is really – do we bring it up – this is like Watergate, only it's worse because here, our foreign enemies were in a position to hack our most sensitive national security secrets.
Trump also accused Clinton of using the State Department to dole out favors to friends and donors to the Clinton Foundation, and he challenged her to address issues such as illegal immigration or the stagnant economy.
"She never talks about policy," he said. "All she ever does is a total hit job on Donald Trump."
Trump detailed a laundry list of issues he would undertake on his first day as president, from calling on Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act to suspending the settlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S. to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement to planning for a massive wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
Within 30 days, he said, his generals would have to submit a plan to defeat the Islamic State forces, and he would push for an end to the federal budget sequester so he could increase military spending.
Trump as commander 'would scare me to death'
Kaine said electing Trump would endanger U.S. troops and American political and economic partners because he would ignore long alliances and pursue his own interests.
"The prospect of the emotionally volatile, fact-challenged, self-obsessed and inexperienced Donald Trump as commander-in-chief scares me to death," Kaine told a crowd at the Hannah Block Historic USO Building in Wilmington.
Kaine criticized Trump as misleading people on his early support of the Iraq War and the pullout of American troops from Iraq and the decision to remove Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi – positions he now claims never to have held, and he ridiculed Trump's ignorance that Hamas, a Palestinian group that oversees Gaza, and Hezbollah, a Lebanese political party, are separate entities.
"He says whatever he feels like at any given point because you can do that when you're a TV star, but you can't do that as president," Kaine said.
More frightening, however, is Trump's apparent close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, ties that aren't fully known because Trump won't publicly release his tax returns, Kaine said. He said Trump's statements show he wants to weaken NATO and abandon U.S. allies in Europe, including Ukraine.
"Each one of these positions stands in stark opposition to decades of American national security goals, but they match up perfectly with Vladimir Putin's wish list," he said.
By comparison, he said, Hillary Clinton has stood up to Putin before and has worked with leaders across the Middle East, so she will be able to craft and lead a foreign policy that will have the rest of the world looking to America for leadership.
"She'll be a commander-in-chief with a cool head, a steady hand, an open mind," he said. "I trust Hillary to lead with the consistent principles that have always been our nation's trademark."
Hillary Clinton's economic plan also boosted
Bill Clinton provided his wife's campaign with a second boost in North Carolina on Tuesday by focusing on domestic policy.
While not mentioning Trump by name, he said the U.S. benefits by including immigrants and not trying to deport them and by ensuring everyone shares in economic growth.
"We cannot go on for eight more years where more than 90 percent of the earnings go to 1 percent of the people," he told a crowd at the Lyon Park community center. "We cannot run an economy that way."
A cry to "Make America Great Again" means only elevating some people back to their economic standing of the 1950s while pushing others down, Bill Clinton said.
"We need to live in the future, not the past," he said. "America is the best-positioned country in the world for the future."
Hillary Clinton's plan would encourage companies to create jobs in the U.S. and would invest in infrastructure, which both creates jobs and builds toward the future, her husband said.
"I've never seen anything she's touched that she didn't make better," he said.