Donald Trump may not accept election results
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s final presidential debate contrasted their policy positions on the Supreme Court, immigration and gun rights before devolving into a sparring match marked by insults and personal accusations.
Republican candidate Trump accused Clinton’s foundation of operating a “criminal enterprise” to aid foreign donors and said her “sleazy campaign” got nine women to come forward since the last debate to accuse him of sexual assault or harassment.
Democratic nominee Clinton argued the New York businessman would be a “puppet” of Russian President Vladimir Putin and is “denigrating, talking down our democracy” by contending the election is “rigged.”
Trump, a former reality television star, claimed the media “has poisoned the minds of the voters” and suggested he may not accept the results of the Nov. 8 election.
“I’ll tell you at the time,” Trump told debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News. “I’ll keep you in suspense.”
Clinton used Trump’s response to contend he believes everything is rigged against him — from his loss in the GOP Iowa caucuses to his belief a federal judge of Mexican descent can’t be fair in deciding a fraud case against his Trump University because of his race.
“There was even a time when he didn’t get an Emmy for his television program three years in a row and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged,” Clinton said. “This is how Donald thinks. And it’s funny, but it’s also really troubling.”
The barbs started flying when Clinton said Trump would be a “puppet” of the Russia government as she tried to pivot from revelations about her candidacy in emails stolen by hackers with suspected links to the Kremlin.
Clinton suggested Trump was encouraging “Russian espionage” in encouraging the distribution of emails stolen from her campaign chairman’s email account that have raised new questions about her public and private persona.
“This has come from the highest levels of the Russian government, clearly from Putin himself in an effort … to influence our election,” Clinton said.
Trump said the former secretary of state was dodging a question about calling for “hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders” in a paid speech to Brazilian bankers three years ago.
“That was a great pivot off the fact that she wants open borders,” he said. “How did we get to Putin?”
Trump argued it would be good for the United States to have a better relationship with Russia and that Clinton could not negotiate with Putin.
“That’s because he’d rather a puppet as president of the United States,” Clinton said.
“No, you’re the puppet,” Trump responded.
Clinton said she found it deeply disturbing.
“You continue to get help from him because he has a very clear favorite in this race,” she said of Putin. “We’ve never had a foreign government try to interfere in our election.”
Trump later said he condemns Russia, but also said there’s no proof Putin is behind the hacks of the Clinton campaign’s emails.
“She has no idea whether it’s Russia, China or anybody else,” Trump said. “Our country has no idea. ... She doesn’t like Putin because Putin has outsmarted her every step of the way.”
Since the town hall debate 10 days ago, Trump has battled a series of allegations from women who have accused him of sexual assault or harassment. The women went public with their allegations after the New York businessman denied in the second debate that he has ever inappropriately touched women.
Wallace asked Trump why nine women from different circumstances would have all claimed Trump groped or assaulted them over the years.
“Those stories have been largely debunked. I don’t know those people,” the businessman said, suggesting the women are either seeking fame or that Clinton’s “very sleazy” campaign put them up to it.
“Those stories are all false. I didn’t even apologize to my wife, who’s sitting right here, because I didn’t do it,” he said.
Clinton noted that Trump has suggested that the women’s claims can’t be true because they aren’t attractive enough to warrant his notice.
She added that the nation needs to “think hard” about what citizens want in their next president.
“America is great because America is good, and it really is up to all of us true now and in the future and particularly for our children and grandchildren,” Clinton said.
Clinton sidestepped a question over whether the Clinton Foundation was used by foreign governments for “pay to play” access to her office as secretary of state, calling it “a world renowned charity” that she is proud of.
“There’s no evidence (of pay-to-play), but there is a lot of evidence about the very good work” the foundation has done, she said.
Trump interjected, calling it a “criminal enterprise” and questioning the financial contributions from foreign interests.
Clinton responded by knocking the Trump Foundation, which has also faced questions over appropriate spending.
“I’d be happy to compare what we do with the Trump foundation, which took money from other people and built a six-foot portrait of Donald,” she said. “Who does that? It was just astonishing.”
Trump accused Clinton of wanting open borders and wanting to give undocumented immigrants amnesty, which he called “very unfair to all the people that are waiting on line for many, many years.”
“We need strong borders,” he said. “Drugs are pouring in through the border. We have no country if we have the border.”
Trump also emphasized his long-touted promise to build a wall at the border.
“One of my first acts will be to get all of the drug lords out of the bad ones — we have some bad bad people in this country,” he said. “They have to go out. But we have some bad hombres here that were going to get them out.”
Clinton said she doesn’t want to rip families apart or send families away from their children.
“I think that is an idea that is not in keeping with who we are as a nation,” she said. “I think it’s an idea that would rip our country apart.”
With Trump’s slumping in the polls, Republican leaders have been trying to keep the conservative base energized by highlighting that the next president might fill up to three seats on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Wallace’s first question focused on the high court and the type of justices they would appoint.
“I feel strongly that the Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people, not on the side of the powerful corporations and the wealthy,” Clinton said.
She said she would appoint justices who uphold the Roe v. Wade abortion decision, protect the rights of gays and lesbians and reverse the Citizens United decision allowing unlimited corporate and union cash to be spent on elections.
Trump spoke of the need to uphold the Second Amendment right to bear arms that he described as “under such trauma.” He said his justices would be anti-abortion, have a “conservative bent.”
He said he would favor justices who overturn the 43-year-old landmark ruling letting women chose whether to terminate an abortion. “That will happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life judges on the court,” he said.
Clinton said she would defend Roe v. Wade, funding for abortion and women’s health care provider Planned Parenthood.
More from the debate: