Donald Trump loves Hillary Clinton conspiracy theories, having accused the presumptive Democratic nominee of everything from taking "blood money" from foreign governments to being involved in Vince Foster’s death in 1993.
On the campaign trail on Wednesday, Trump served up a fresh invention about Clinton. Speaking in New York City, Trump said that Clinton should be disqualified from the presidency because America’s foes abroad may have gathered a "blackmail file" on her by hacking her unsecured email server.
[Clinton’s] server was easily hacked by foreign governments, perhaps even by her financial backers in communist China. Sure they have it. Putting all of America and our citizens in danger, great danger. Then there are the 33,000 emails she deleted. We may not know what's in those deleted emails. Our enemies probably know every single one of them. So they probably now have a blackmail file over someone who wants to be the president of the United States. This fact alone disqualifies her from the presidency.
Now, Trump may be exploiting a real political vulnerability for Clinton by attacking her over the emails.
But what he’s saying is still wildly irresponsible. There’s no evidence for Trump’s claim that Clinton’s email server has been breached. There’s no evidence that, even if it had been hacked, Clinton had state secrets that would amount to a "blackmail file."
You can think Clinton made a big mistake in how she handled the email server and still regard Trump’s insinuation of a "blackmail file" as egregious nonsense.
Trump’s attack: Clinton both controlled by foreign foes and too open to their attacks
But if the biggest problem with Trump’s claim is its lack of factual support, it’s also worth noting that his internal logic here is also inconsistent.
On the one hand, Trump is accusing Clinton of being controlled by her "financial backers in communist China." This fit with his broader attack that Clinton and the Clinton Foundation are indebted to foreign donors like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar.
Trump continually called Clinton a crony and secret ally of foreign governments throughout the speech. But almost within the same breath, Trump also alleges that Clinton irresponsibly exposed herself to her enemies in China — accusing her of weakness in defending herself from the foreign governments who somehow are also the "financial backers" controlling her actions.
"We can't hand over our government to someone whose deepest, darkest secrets may be in the hands of our enemies," Trump said. "Can't do it."
Trump’s attacks around Clinton’s email server and her ties to big donors may break down into incoherence. That may be because they’re built on wildly exaggerated, if not entirely fabricated, versions of the facts.