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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump: What’s left to learn?

For all the minds already made up, the

For all the minds already made up, the two combatants look determined to bring out their loyalists and go with the negative flow by exchanging attack messages. Photo Credit: Getty Images composite

Donald Trump claimed Monday that on a visit to crime-vexed Chicago, he met with “a couple of very top police” who purportedly told him tougher tactics would quell the violence in a week.

But department brass denied any such meeting occurred. So Trump’s spokeswoman then told Chicago reporters that her boss “spoke with some talented and dedicated police officers on a prior visit.”

The broader story: It is no longer considered earthshaking news when a Trump assertion is readily exposed as unfounded or misleading.

Nor do email developments surrounding Hillary Clinton give us more than increments of new information about what we know or suspect about her.

She’s on the hot seat this week over meetings that actually took place.

The Associated Press reports that many of those she met with as secretary of state also gave money — either personally or through entities — to the Clinton Foundation.

But it has already been widely reported that overlaps existed between foundation donors and various persons interested in State Department policies. And with so many voters telling pollsters how little they trust either candidate, it is hard to imagine that more of these increments on Trump or Clinton would change voter preferences from one to the other.

Still, surprises can and do occur.

That’s why it makes strategic sense that both candidates seem to be ducking news media appearances and taking other steps to skirt hard questioning.

She isn’t releasing transcripts of speeches to financial firms for which she received hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Unlike every other major party presidential contender since 1976, Trump declines to release his income tax information. On Wednesday his son Eric Trump told CNBC it would be “foolish” to release returns while under audit.

On MSNBC, meanwhile, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook sought to defend the fact she has not held a scheduled news conference since December. Mook said she “takes questions in a variety of formats” and “has done more than 300 interviews.”

Trump has been scaling back his previous unavoidable-for-comment news-media approach, appearing mostly with such friends as Sean Hannity of Fox News. This month Trump blamed the “disgusting and corrupt media” for his trailing Clinton in polls.

The two combatants seem determined to bring out their bases, discourage potential votes for their opponents, and go with the negative flow by exchanging attack messages.

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