Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said Wednesday the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s email use is “devastating,” and that it’s not surprising that he came within 6 points of the Democrat in a recent CNN/ORC poll match-up.
“I think it’s devastating for the election, but I think her bigger problem is not the election. I think her bigger problem is going to be the criminal (problem),” Trump said in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo.
While he said Clinton is not his “focus right now,” he predicted she would struggle to get over the bad headlines generated by the investigation into her private server and the possible transmission of classified information in her private email, as well as the money she has raked in for speeches since leaving office.
“I think that Hillary’s going to have a hard time being in the election based on what’s going on with the emails, the servers, maybe even the speeches,” Trump said. “I think it’s going to be a very hard thing for her to overcome.”
Trump compared Clinton’s situation to that of Gen. David Petraeus, who pleaded guilty to giving some classified information to his biographer and lover.
“When I look, Chris, at what happened with Petraeus … great general, wonderful guy, everybody loved him, and it destroyed his life over much less,” Trump said. “It would seem hard to think that somebody could have a much worse situation than him and escape.”
Cuomo countered that Petraeus knew the information was classified and intentionally passed it along, but there has been no indication to date that the Justice Department believes Clinton intentionally shared information she knew was classified. She has not personally been declared the subject of the investigation into her emails.
“It certainly looks like it was high-level information,” Trump said. “It’s always skirting the edge. What’s the purpose of it? … What is she doing, why is she doing it?”
He acknowledged that the investigation hasn’t named her, but he said he believes what she did was criminal.
“I don’t think I’m the only one. The FBI’s involved, they only do criminal,” Trump said. “Now maybe it’s somebody on her staff. But look, it’s ether criminal or incompetent, it’s one or another … either gross incompetence or criminal, and neither’s acceptable to be president.”
On Tuesday, Clinton told the press at an adversarial news conference that the email story “has nothing to do with me,” made fun of questions about whether she “wiped” the server and said “no one” asks her about the emails and the servers but the press.
Trump said he predicts his campaign will “do very well” and said he also beats Clinton on their records, reiterating that he came out against the Iraq War in 2004.
“Hillary’s record as secretary of state was a disaster,” Trump said. “She was in favor, totally in favor, of the Iraq War, which is obviously not a good soundbite.”
Trump isn’t backing down from his call to revoke citizenship for children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrant parents despite concerns he’ll turn Hispanic voters off to the GOP.
“I have to do the right thing,” the mogul said in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo Wednesday, when asked about his immigration plan being under fire.
Trump has called for building a wall along the border with Mexico, revoking the right to citizenship to children born the U.S. if their parents aren’t documented, and for deporting undocumented immigrants and then allowing “good ones” to re-enter the country.
He has been hit with criticism from some Republicans while taking and heavy fire from the left.
He even took flak as he sat down for the interview with CNN in Trump Tower, when an onlooker in the lobby of the building shouted: “You will never win the Latino vote. The Latino (voters) don’t like you.”
Trump didn’t respond to the heckler, and after the interview finished taping, two people watching from the crowd told Trump they were Mexicans and would gladly support and work for him, which he relayed to Cuomo.
“You know, this country is so politically correct. Nobody wants to take a stance on anything,” Trump told Cuomo. “Now they like to use the word undocumented because it’s more political — I don’t use that word. They’re illegal immigrants. They came over illegally. Some are wonderful people, and they’ve been here for a while. They’ve got to go out. They’ve got to leave.”
He did say there were “a lot of good ones” among immigrants, and that he would try to bring them back.
“These people — the really good ones, and we have some great ones — we’re going to try and expedite so they can come back,” he said. “But they’re going to come back legally.”
The candidate also reiterated that he believes in changing birthright citizenship — which grants automatic citizenship to all children born in the U.S. — though he said he wouldn’t need to amend the Constitution to do it.
“No. 1, the 14th Amendment is very questionable as to whether or not somebody can come over, have a baby and immediately that baby is a citizen. OK?” Trump said. “Amending is too big a deal. It’s going to take — it’ll be two terms. I’d be in my second term or my eighth year by the time — assuming everything went smoothly. … I believe you can win it legally.”
He said people can’t be allowed to just “walk over” the border to give birth.
“You have people on the border and in one day they walk over, have a baby. And now all of a sudden we’re supposed to pay the baby … medical, Social Security,” Trump said.