Donald Trump on Tuesday accused Hillary Clinton of trying to “bribe” Attorney General Loretta Lynch by raising the possibility that she might keep Lynch in her position if she’s elected president, even as Lynch’s department oversees a case examining Clinton’s use of a private email server.
The claim of a potential job offer, apparently based on a news report and erroneously attributed to Clinton herself, marked an extraordinary escalation in Trump’s rhetoric against his Democratic rival on the day the FBI director said his agency will not recommend criminal charges against Clinton for using the private server.
At a rally here in Raleigh, Trump said that “at least according to what I saw on television, which you can’t always believe,” Clinton “said today that we may consider the attorney general to go forward. That’s like a bribe isn’t it? Isn’t that sort of a bribe? I think it’s a bribe.”
“It’s a bribe!” he growled few moments later .
Clinton has never said publicly that she is considering keeping Lynch on as attorney general. The New York Times reported that Democrats close to Clinton said she may opt to retain Lynch.
A Clinton campaign spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s remark.
As Trump spoke at his rally here Tuesday, the crowd of about 2,000 frequently jumped to their feet to cheer and shout out their own opinions. His attacks on Clinton were especially popular, and one man in the crowd repeatedly shouted: “Hang that b—-!”
A reporter for the local News and Observer tweeted that as Trump criticized President Barack Obama, someone near him shouted: “He’s a monkey!”
The presumptive Republican nominee was joined onstage at the beginning of the rally by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, who is emerging as a finalist in Trump’s vice presidential running mate selection process.
In his remarks, Trump said that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, who was executed in 2006, “was a bad guy” but “you know what he did well? He killed terrorists.” He has made similar comments before.
Hussein was a declared enemy of the United States and supporter of terrorists.
Hours before Trump spoke, hundreds of his supporters lined up in 95-degree heat and then stayed in line during an intense rainstorm. Although Trump has recently packed arenas in deep-red states like Texas, he has often struggled to do the same in more competitive states like North Carolina and opted for a smaller venue than usual: a downtown performing arts center.
Trump won North Carolina’s Republican primary on March 15 with 40 percent of votes — which was not far ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who won nearly 37 percent of votes.
Two of the state’s most prominent Republicans — Gov. Pat McCrory and Sen. Richard Burr — both declined to attend the Tuesday evening rally with Trump, citing other obligations to the local media.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Jenna Johnson, Sean Sullivan