SPOKANE, Wash. — Donald Trump on Saturday invoked Bill Clinton’s impeachment in an escalation of his attacks on Hillary Clinton over the family’s treatment of women.
“She’s married to a man who got impeached for lying,” Trump said of the likely Democratic nominee. “He was impeached and he had to go through a whole big process and it wasn’t easy. He was impeached for lying about what happened with a woman.”
Trump’s remarks in a speech in Spokane, Washington, continued the criticism he launched Friday aimed at Hillary Clinton over her husband’s infidelities — particularly the Monica Lewinsky affair while Bill Clinton was in the White House. The Lewinsky scandal resulted in Bill Clinton being impeached on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, though he was ultimately acquitted in the Senate.
The presumptive Republican nominee has increasingly pointed to those infidelities as he confronts his own high negative ratings among women. The most recent CNN/ORC poll found that 64% of American women view Trump unfavorably.
“Hillary was an enabler and she treated these women horribly. Just remember this,” Trump said Saturday. “And some of those women were destroyed, not by (Bill Clinton), but by the way Hillary Clinton treated them after it went down.”
He cited the Clintons’ actions as part of a pre-emptive effort to inoculate himself against what he sees as potential television advertisements that would highlight his most controversial remarks. Trump said he never raises his voice while speaking to women, and that Clinton would have “zero chance of winning” without playing the “woman’s card.”
“Just remember that when you’re watching these phony, paid-for-by Wall Street ads, put out by Hillary Clinton on Donald Trump. And just remember, I said it: There is nobody that has more respect for women than me,” Trump said.
He cited high-ranking women in his own company, including his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and said he sometimes pays women more than men who work in similar positions.
“I have women — frankly, I shouldn’t say this because the men are going to get angry, but — I have women that make more money than men doing comparable jobs,” Trump said. “Men, am I OK saying that?”
“The women get it better than we do, folks,” Trump told the crowd.
Trump’s attacks on Clinton over her husband’s infidelities was a staple of his stump speech early this year, but he had dropped the criticism, instead taking to branding Clinton as “Crooked Hillary” in speeches in recent weeks.
He returned to the attack against Clinton as a “nasty, mean enabler” in a speech Friday night, and doubled down Saturday.
Clinton’s strategy to rebut Trump’s attacks has been to portray him as attacking women overall and focus on policy.
“The other day, Mr. Trump accused me, of playing the, quote, ‘woman card.’ Well, if fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in,” Clinton told supporters in Philadelphia after winning a slate of East Coast primaries in late April.
Clinton’s campaign has even created an actual “woman card” for supporters — a credit-card-sized souvenir that is given in exchange for donations.
Trump’s remarks on Saturday are a far cry from a position he took in 2008 when he spoke to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and compared the case for impeaching then-President George W. Bush to Bill Clinton.
“I mean — look at the trouble Bill Clinton got into with something that was totally unimportant. And they tried to impeach him, which was nonsense. And yet Bush got us into this horrible war with lies, by lying, by saying they had weapons of mass destruction, by saying all sorts of things that turned out not to be true.”
Asked about the comments during an interview in December, Trump shrugged them off as part of his “obligation” as a businessman.
“I’m dubbed as a world-class businessman, which frankly that’s what I am, and I got along with everybody. I got along with the Clintons, the Republicans, the Democrats, the liberals, the conservatives. That was my obligation, as a businessman,” Trump told NBC’s “The Today Show” back then. “But I get along with … the Clintons and I get along with everybody virtually, because that was — when I needed approvals, when I needed something from Washington, I always got what I wanted.”
In Spokane, Trump also addressed his upcoming meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who said earlier this week that he isn’t yet prepared to support Trump’s presidential bid.
Forecasting eased tensions, Trump said: “I think Paul Ryan will be fine, and if he’s not, that’s OK,” adding that he believes if Ryan had it to do over again, he’d simply endorse Trump rather than face backlash from GOP voters and some elected officials for rejecting the party’s presumptive nominee.
Trump was harsher in his criticism of Jeb Bush, his one-time rival for the Republican presidential nomination.
Again dubbing Bush a “very low-energy individual,” he cited the pledge GOP contenders signed to back the party’s eventual nominee — one Bush, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and others have since broken — and said “while he was signing the pledge, he fell asleep.”
“The only reason I speak badly about him,” Trump said, “is because he speaks badly about me.”
Clinton wasn’t the only woman Trump attacked on Saturday.
“Who the hell wouldn’t speak badly about Rosie O’Donnell?” he said. “She’s terrible.”