Weekend of Our Discontent: Trump, Clinton Spar Over Dueling Controversies

Trump and Clinton are the two most unpopular candidates to seek office in the history of modern polling.Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the two most unpopular candidates to seek office in the history of modern polling. (Photos: Jared Polin / Flickr, Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

On the campaign trail Donald Trump insulted the family of a dead US soldier and Hillary Clinton repeated claims that were debunked weeks ago by none other than the Director of the FBI.

The events capped off a weekend in an election characterized by sweeping discontent with the nominees of both major parties. Recent polls show growing numbers of Americans considering third party options.

First it was Trump’s turn to horrify the nation, with numerous attacks, in press interviews and tweets, against the parents of Humayan Khan, a US soldier and Muslim who died fighting in Iraq in 2004, and was posthumously decorated for valor.

Khan’s parents Khizr and Ghazala, were featured during last week’s Democratic National Convention. Khizr criticized Trump for not having made any sacrifices to the country, and questioned whether or not the GOP nominee had ever read the Constitution.

Trump responded by insinuating that Ghazala Khan, who stood by her husband as he addressed the convention, was prohibited from speaking.

“If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably — maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say,” He said in an interview on ABC Sunday. “You tell me.”

Trump later tweeted, “I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic Convention. Am I not allowed to respond? Hillary voted for the Iraq war, not me!”

Prominent GOP Senators, including John McCain (R-Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), came to the defense of the Khan family, distancing themselves from the comments of their party’s nominee.

“It is time for Donald Trump to set the example for our country and the future of the Republican Party,” McCain said in a statement. “While our Party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.”

Hillary Clinton responded, too, stating that she “didn’t know where the bottom was” in Trump’s campaign.

Clinton, however, also left her campaign vulnerable to attack over the weekend.

In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, she again claimed that she did not mishandle classified information as Secretary of State, despite the FBI finding a month ago that she was “extremely careless” while transmitting secret documents over insecure channels.

“There were discussions and decisions made to classify retroactively certain emails,” Clinton claimed in the interview, responding to a question on her use of a private email server.

“I was communicating with over 300 people in my emails. They certainly did not believe and had no reason to believe what they were sending was classified,” she added.

Last month, FBI Director James Comey revealed that investigators had found 52 email chains on Clinton’s insecure server that contained classified information at the time the messages were sent.

The bureau decided not to recommend charges against Clinton, but Comey did note that “any reasonable person in secretary Clinton’s position or in the position of those with whom she was corresponding about those matters should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.”

The Trump campaign, not distracted by its own fires, seized on Clinton’s remarks.

“Hillary Clinton spent her Sunday morning lying to the American people, and doubling down on her desire to serve as a third term for [President] Obama’s failed policies,” it said in a statement.

Clinton also turned heads by asserting that the Russian government was not only behind the DNC email hack, but also coordinated when the emails should be released. She also suggested that Trump might be an agent of Moscow.

“We know that Donald Trump has shown a very troubling willingness to back up Putin, to support Putin,” Clinton claimed.

“We know that Russian intelligence services, which are part of the Russian government — which is under the firm control of Vladimir Putin — hacked into the DNC. And we know that they arranged for a lot of those emails to be released,” she further alleged.

Those charges have been denied by the main publisher of the correspondences, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. “That’s not why we publish,” he said Sunday on NBC. “We don’t have any concern as to whether Hillary is elected or Trump is elected.”

The US government has, thus far, not formally attributed the DNC hack to any foreign power.

Clinton did receive a bump in the polls following last week’s DNC in Philadelphia. A CBS News poll released Monday gave her a 7-point edge over Trump. The same poll showed the candidates tied just one week ago following the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Also receiving a boost in support are third party candidates. The Libertarian Party’s nominee, Gary Johnson has seen his number improve from 4.5 percent to 7.2 percent over the last six weeks, according to RealClearPolitics polling averages. Jill Stein, the Green Party’s nominee, has also received more support inching her polling up from 2.5 to 3.5 percent.

Trump and Clinton are the two most unpopular candidates to seek office in the history of modern polling.