WASHINGTON, D.C.: Donald Trump’s presidential hopes suffered a punishing new setback as authorities clamped down on his charitable foundation, while Hillary Clinton seized the offensive to brand him an unscrupulous businessman.
With just five weeks to go before the November 8 election, Trump is seeking to climb out of one of the darkest periods of his White House campaign as his vice-presidential pick Mike Pence goes toe to toe against Democratic Senator Tim Kaine late Tuesday for their only debate of the campaign.
Already weakened by damaging revelations about his taxes, the real estate billionaire was hit with an order by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that the Donald J. Trump Foundation must “cease and desist from soliciting contributions” in New York.
The notice informed the charity that it had engaged in fundraising activities not permitted under the law because it had not been registered with the state authorities.
With Team Trump on the defensive after leaked documents suggested he may have paid no income tax for two decades, his Democratic rival rounded on him as a business bully who cares little for his fellow countrymen.
“While millions of American families, including mine and yours, were working hard paying our fair share, it seems he was contributing nothing to our nation. Imagine that,” a fired up Clinton said in Toledo, Ohio.
“He has been ‘dissing’ America in this whole campaign,” she charged, riding high on a surge in polling carried out after the bruising first presidential debate.
The pair face off in their second showdown on Sunday.
Trump used an appearance before military veterans in Virginia to pound the former secretary of State once more for handling classified information via a “basement” private email server.
But he appeared to stumble when he addressed veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, suggesting some were returning from battle ill-equipped to cope.
“When you talk about the mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over, and you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it,” Trump said.
Clinton pounced on the comment in the evening, posting a fact-checking page on her website muddying Trump’s record on veterans.
“A person who implies that veterans suffering from PTS are not ‘strong’ is unfit to be Commander-in-Chief. Period,” she said on Twitter.
Trump’s strongest line of attack has been personal in recent days, and of a degree of brutality rare even for this year’s bare-knuckles campaign. He mocked Clinton over the weekend for coming down with pneumonia and even questioned her fidelity to her husband.
“Hillary Clinton’s only loyalty is to her financial contributors and to herself,” he said.