Donald Trump on Wednesday defended himself against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s focused attack on his business record, saying she’s merely trying to avoid explaining her “lies” during the FBI investigation into her private email-server system.
“She just wants to get off the subject of all the lies she told,” Trump said on Fox News’ “The Real Story.”
Trump, speaking by phone from Atlantic City, N.J., responded shortly after Clinton stood outside a shuttered Trump hotel on the Atlantic City boardwalk and accused the presumptive Republican presidential nominee of making millions in the resort town – then leaving its residents and small businesses for broke.
“He bankrupted his companies four times,” Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said in a roughly 15-minutes speech that focused solely on Trump’s business record. “When this casino collapsed, hundreds of people lost their jobs. Contractors, small businesses took heavy losses. But Trump, he walked away with millions.”
Trump, as he has previously argued, said he was part of Atlantic City’s revival in the 1990s and that local Democratic lawmakers killed it with “bad decisions,” including one to build an airport roughly 10 miles from the casino resort.
“I created thousands and thousands of jobs,” Trump told Fox News. “I left seven years ago. It’s sad what happened to Atlantic City.”
In response to Clinton’s argument that Trump businesses have relied on other countries to make his goods, he said China and other countries have devalued their currencies so much that U.S. companies have to rely on overseas manufacturers.
“They make it impossible for countries to compete,” Trump said.
On Tuesday, FBI Director James Comey said Clinton was “extremely careless” in her use of the private server system while secretary of state but that the agency would not recommend criminal charges in the case.
Trump on Wednesday again said the Comey recommendation proves “the system is totally rigged.”
“She certainly is not trustworthy,” Trump said of Clinton. “She lies. I cannot see how you give her confidential information.”
In Atlantic City, Clinton also said, “Businesses did bad here because Donald Trump acted irresponsibly. “What he did … is exactly what’s he would do after November.”
Within minutes of Clinton’s speech, Trump issued a statement defending his record in the resort-casino town.
“Nobody understands the economy like I do,” Trump said. “And no one, especially not Crooked Hillary Clinton, will do more for the economy than I will. I want to bring jobs back to America, while Hillary Clinton wants to get elected to enrich herself with power at the expense of the people.”
The exchanges between Clinton and Trump have intensified since the Comey announcement.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch is expected to accept Comey's recommendations. Comey, meanwhile, has agreed to testify Thursday before a House committee convening to look at his decision.
“Comey let Clinton off the hook,” Trump said after the director’s announcement. “The fix was final. The Obama administration's anointed successor has had an indictment removed from her path and will now be able to glide to the rigged Democrat nomination.”
Clinton said Wednesday that Trump’s actions “are personal to me,” considering her father put her through college as a small-business man.
Before Clinton’s appearance in Atlantic City, her campaign released a new web video titled: “Who got hurt?” in which Clinton claims Trump’s record in Atlantic City was marred by bankruptcies, job losses and small businesses and contractors not being paid in full, "all while Trump made millions.”
Clinton campaigned Wednesday near the Trump Taj Mahal casino, which now belongs to Trump’s friend, business magnate Carl Icahn -- who took control of the casino in March after rescuing it from bankruptcy court. Workers have been on strike since Friday over health care benefits, but several striking workers told The Associated Press their grievance was with Icahn, not Trump – who has no involvement with the casino’s operations.
A Wall Street Journal report in January found that Trump made a net profit of $160 million in the area between 1990 and 1996 through feeds and other payouts from casinos, even as they went through bankruptcy-court proceedings. He also took out profits from Atlantic City in the 1980s, late '90s and early 2000s.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.