Hours after Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump a thin-skinned loose cannon temperamentally unfit for the presidency, the Republican nominee shot back at his likely opponent on Thursday evening, saying Clinton “has got to go to jail” for using a private email server during her tenure as secretary of State.
“I have watched so many lawyers on so many different networks,” Trump told a crowd of supporters at a rally in San Jose, California. “I have read so much about the emails. Folks, honestly, she’s guilty as hell.”
He went on, “The fact that they even allow her to participate is a disgrace to the United States. It’s a disgrace to our nation.”
Trump went so far as to theorize that Clinton’s support for President Barack Obama, her rival in the 2008 Democratic primary, is merely a matter of avoiding prosecution:
“Bill Clinton hated him, and Hillary Clinton hated Obama. Now it’s, ‘Yes sir, Mr. President sir. What would you like? What would you like me to say here, sir?’
The only reason she’s behaving like this and the only reason she’s been dragged so far left, believe me, is she doesn’t want to go to jail over the emails, okay? Believe me, that’s the only reason. One simple reason.”
The scandal over Clinton’s emails flared up again last week after a State Department audit came to light that determined her use of a private email server to conduct official business had violated federal rules and would not have been approved had she asked permission.
Neither that report nor any other developments in the ongoing FBI investigation indicate Clinton has committed a crime, despite the somewhat sensational coverage the controversy has received. Still, Trump and other Republicans have sought to leverage the investigation to support a narrative of Clinton as dishonest and untrustworthy, or in Trump’s parlance, “crooked” — all the while praying for an indictment that the Justice Department seems unlikely to issue.
But Trump assured his supporters on Thursday that, if elected, he would not “let her get away with this crime.” “It’s called a five-year statute of limitations,” he said. “If I win, everything’s going to be fair, but I’m sure the Attorney General will take a very good look at it.”
Is Trump promising justice well-served or suggesting he’ll use the presidency to settle a score? If it’s the latter, well, it’s not the first time he’s hinted at plans to abuse executive power.