If he is elected president, Donald Trump said in the second presidential debate, he will do his best to put Hillary Clinton in jail because many of her emails are missing from when she was secretary of state.
And Trump took offense at Clinton’s recent remark that labeled half of his supporters deplorable and unredeemable.
“Believe me,” Trump said about Clinton, “she has tremendous hate in her heart.”
When the Republican Trump wasn’t growling at the Democrat Clinton or the debate moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz, he was prowling the small stage at Washington University in St. Louis.
“I tried to give him space,” Clinton said after the debate.
When she spoke in the debate, cameras from several angles showed Trump rocking from side to side, early on, and then, later, lurking over Clinton’s shoulder.
“You saw Trump scowling and stalking and breathing heavily and looming,” said Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post, a commentator on MSNBC. “This weird sort of body language . . . . I don’t think it was presidential.”
Robinson called Trump’s behavior “bizarre.”
Trump’s words were as unsettling as his body language. Trump was at his rudest at about 10 p.m., two-thirds through the 90-minute affair, during a discussion of tax policies that favor wealthy people like Trump.
After Trump gave his opinions, Cooper asked Clinton to respond.
CLINTON: “I’ve been in favor of getting rid of carried interest for years.”
TRUMP (interrupting): “Why didn’t you do it?” (Repeating) “Why didn’t you do it?”
COOPER (sternly): “Let her reply.”
CLINTON: “Because I was a Senator with a Republican President.”
TRUMP (interrupting, louder): “Oh, really? You could’ve done it.” (Raising voice, gesturing with finger). “If you were an effective senator, you could’ve done it.” (Repeating, accusatory). “If you were an effective senator, you could have done it. But you were not an effective senator.”
COOPER (slightly annoyed): “Please allow her to respond. She didn’t interrupt you.”
CLINTON (smiling, slightly): “You know, under our Constitution, presidents have something called veto power.”
The debate took place amid increasing ugliness on the campaign trail after a Washington Post video report on its web site on Friday. Taped in 2005, it recorded Trump telling a television host how he kisses strange women and grabs them by their vaginas.
‘Rather than apologizing, he minimizes,’ Jones said of Trump. ‘I’m not as bad as ISIS—that’s your defense?’
They let him do it, Trump said, because he’s a star.
“You bragged that that you have sexually assaulted women,” Cooper said. “Do you understand that?”
“No, I didn’t say that at all,” Trump said. “I don’t think you understood what was said. This was locker room talk.”
Quickly, Trump pivoted out of the question, changing the subject to the terrorist group ISIS and how it chops off heads and drowns people in steel cages, which is presumably worse that grabbing women by their, as Trump put it, “pussies.”
“I will knock the hell out of ISIS,” he said.
From that point on, Trump heard no further questions about his misogyny from either Anderson, Raddatz or the town-hall forum audience.
But Trump didn’t exactly avoid the subject of sexually predatory behavior.
An hour before the debate, in a surprise news conference, he sat on camera at a table with three women who said several decades ago that they were harassed by Bill Clinton, the former president who is married to Hillary Clinton.
As Trump explained early in the debate, he—Trump—was all sex talk but no sex action—unlike you-know-who.
“If you look at Bill Clinton, mine are words and his was action,” Trump said. “What he’s done to women, there’s never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation that’s been so abusive to women.”
Trump put Bill Clinton’s accusers in the first row Sunday night to unnerve Hillary Clinton. Gloria Borger of CNN seemed aghast at Trump’s crude tactics.
“It’s kind of dark,” she said of Trump’s stunt, “and, in a way, very sad. Politically, it’s particularly stunning . . . It shows you that Donald Trump is willing to do anything.”
On Fox News Channel, Trump’s favored news outlet, Megyn Kelly said of Trump “Him calling her the devil wasn’t our highest moment.” Another trooper in the Foxhole, Juan Williams, noticed Trump’s actions as well as his words.
“This was all about him,” Williams said. “He was standing, looming over her, pointing his finger, interrupting.”
On MSNBC, Chuck Todd called Trump’s physical presence ominous.
“He’s an angry guy,” Todd said.
Also on MSNBC was Steve Schmidt, a veteran Republican operative.
“It was like a mongoose and a cobra in a steel cage match,” Schmidt said, declining to say which one was the mongoose and which one was the cobra. “You can see the seething anger he feels toward his running mate, Mike Pence.”
That was a reference to Trump’s saying Sunday that he disagreed with Pence on Syria policy and has not discussed it with him.
Pence is one of many prominent Republicans urging Trump to apologize sincerely for his sexism, which he hasn’t done. Some—not Pence, yet—have said they won’t vote for Trump.
One of the strangest post-debate moments came when Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway joined Chris Matthews for an interview on MSNBC.
Matthews wanted to know if Conway would stay on the campaign “to the bitter end,” what with Trump’s polls sinking and his reputation stinking.
“I’m with him until the bitter end, unless. . . ” Conway said.
Matthews, who often expresses his admiration for Conway and asks her easy questions, neglected to ask the obvious follow-up question. But his colleagues back in the studio—Rachel Maddow and Nicolle Wallace—forced Matthews to press her.
So Matthews did. Was Conway hedging her bets because there are reports of other Trump tapes that are more vulgar and more insulting than Friday’s release? Might they involve Trump’s years as host of the reality show The Apprentice? Might they involve the “N-Word?”
Oh, no, Conway said, explaining, unconvincingly, that she meant “unless someone in my household needs me or something changes in my life.” Later, Lawrence O’Donnell said on the same network: “They obviously are living in fear of more tape coming out.”
Also on MSNBC, Robinson said it was “shocking” that Trump threatened to jail his opponent and said it was a “banana republic” sort of threat.
“We’ve become kind of numb to that,” Robinson said.
Over at Trump’s sanctuary network, Fox News, Sean Hannity was being assured by Rudy Giuliani that Trump won the debate and that Clinton is evil.
“This could be one of the biggest knockouts I’ve ever seen,” the former New York mayor told Hannity. She had it coming, Giuliani said, for her “unrelenting, vicious, nasty, horrible attack on him.”
On CNN, Van Jones saw it differently, referring specifically to Trump’s pivot from bragging about sexual assault to smashing ISIS.
“Rather than apologizing, he minimizes,” Jones said of Trump. “’I’m not as bad as ISIS.’ That’s your defense?”
Noting that Trump threatened to jail his opponent, Jones called Trump’s performance “a new low in American democracy.”
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.