Donald Trump suggested Tuesday he believes President Barack Obama may have influenced the FBI’s decision not to recommend charges against Hillary Clinton over her mishandling of classified information, the culmination of a detailed investigation into her use of a private email server as secretary of state.
The presumptive GOP presidential nominee, speaking to Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, raised questions about the timing of the announcement, which came on the same day that Obama joined Clinton in this election campaign.
Later, at a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, Trump accused Clinton of trying to “bribe” U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch by raising the possibility that she might keep Lynch in her position if she’s elected president. Lynch heads the Department of Justice, which oversees the FBI.
Meanwhile, when O’Reilly pressed Trump on whether he was directly accusing Obama of influencing the case, Trump demurred. He added that he will “look into it” and said that “we will see what we shall see.”
“I think it’s extremely unusual that he is speaking two hours after the so-called exoneration, that he’s speaking in North Carolina where I’m heading right now, by the way,” Trump told Fox’s O’Reilly, according to a transcript.
“But I think it’s a very unusual set of circumstances and it began with President Clinton going onto an airplane just like, ‘Oh gee, hey, this is wonderful.’ ” He referred to former President Bill Clinton’s impromptu meeting with Lynch last week, which critics have blasted as a conflict of interest.
Trump called the decision not to recommend charges a “miscarriage of justice,” but he added he has “such respect” for the FBI.
“She made great mistakes and it sounded to me like there was no choice but to convict, or to go to some form of very harsh punishment, and they didn’t do that. And I can tell you, everyone was stunned at the end because, if you listen to it, it sounds like she had horrible judgment, she didn’t know what she was doing,” Trump said.
In Raleigh, Trump said, “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.”
His audience about 2,000 frequently jumped to their feet to cheer and shout out their own opinions, with one member of the crowd calling for Clinton’s hanging and another calling Obama a monkey.
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.