The Latest: Trump insists Clinton tweet isn't anti-Semitic

WASHINGTON – The Latest on Campaign 2016 ahead of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions (all times EDT):

7:35 p.m.

Donald Trump is again insisting that his negative tweet about Hillary Clinton did not feature a Star of David atop a pile of cash.

Trump said Wednesday at a rally in Cincinnati that it was just “a regular star or maybe a sheriff’s star” and that he wished his campaign had not deleted the image.

Trump received criticism for the image of the star, which some had deemed anti-Semitic. He insists that the media “was racist” for assuming that the image had Jewish connotations.

He also says that he is not anti-Semitic, noting that his daughter Ivanka had converted to Judaism for marriage and is raising her children Jewish.

The rant about the tweet came amid a long list of Trump complaints about the media’s coverage of several recent controversies, including his apparent praise of Saddam Hussein and the size of his crowds.


7:08 p.m.

A Democrat familiar with the plans says the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are discussing a potential event next week in New Hampshire, during which Sanders would endorse Clinton.

The Democrat says if the two sides continue to make progress in the talks they would hold the joint event Tuesday in New Hampshire.

The Democrat was not authorized to discuss the plans and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Sanders praised Clinton’s announcement of a proposal earlier Wednesday to tackle the rising cost of college tuition and the burden of student loan debt.

Asked when he might endorse Clinton, Sanders told reporters he was working with Clinton on some initiatives and he was hopeful they could reach an agreement “sooner rather than later.”

Sanders is pushing for changes to the Democratic platform at a meeting in Florida this weekend.


7 p.m.

Donald Trump is trying to clarify his apparent compliments of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The presumptive Republican nominee stressed Wednesday in Cincinnati that Saddam “was a bad man” and that “I hate Saddam Hussein.”

He then repeated the dubious assertion that Saddam “was good at one thing: killing terrorists.” In the West, Saddam was seen not as an opponent of terrorism, but as a state sponsor of it.

When Trump made his remarks about Saddam on Tuesday night in North Carolina, he sparked headlines and drew criticism from fellow Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan and his likely general election opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump blamed the news media for taking his Saddam comments out of context, using his familiar riff that the press “are the most dishonest people in the world.”


6:55 p.m.

Donald Trump is criticizing the outcome of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server.

The presumptive Republican nominee opened his rally in Cincinnati on Wednesday reciting several of the criticisms that FBI Director James Comey delivered in his briefing about Clinton’s server the day before.

Trump then contrasted what Comey said to Clinton’s previous claims about the servers, saying his likely general election opponent was “a dirty rotten liar.”

Trump’s methodical recitation of the criticism stood in stark contrast to his scattershot criticisms of Clinton the night before at a rally in North Carolina.

Comey recommended against any prosecution and Attorney General Loretta Lynch has said she will follow that recommendation.


6:40 p.m.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Marco Rubio says the Florida Republican is skipping the GOP Convention in Cleveland. That makes Rubio the latest high-profile Republican to decide not to attend the convention that is preparing to nominate Donald Trump for president.

Rubio spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas says Rubio wants to spend his time campaigning for re-election to his Senate seat. She says Rubio had planned to go to the convention when he wasn’t seeking re-election but now that he’s decided to seek another term he’s focusing on that.


6:35 p.m.

Newt Gingrich, on the shortlist to be Donald Trump’s vice-president, is introducing the presumptive Republican nominee at a campaign rally in Ohio.

The former House speaker condemned Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s decision to not bring charges in the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Lynch’s decision came one day after FBI Director James Comey recommended against any prosecution. Gingrich says Clinton should “be facing a grand jury and not an election.”

Gingrich is urging the crowd to support Trump and pushing Ohio’s governor, John Kasich, to do the same. Kasich has yet to endorse the celebrity businessman after ending his own presidential campaign.

Gingrich deems Trump “the next president” of the United States and says that carrying Ohio would be central to the candidate’s hopes.


6 p.m.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign says House Republicans are pursuing a “taxpayer-funded sham” by convening a formal hearing with FBI Director James Comey on the agency’s investigation of her email use as s secretary of state.

Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon says House Republicans are trying to hurt Clinton politically. He says GOP leaders are now second-guessing Comey’s judgment “because his findings do not align with their conspiracy theories.”

Fallon says career officials who handled the case determined no further action was appropriate. He is accusing Republicans of trying to politicize the situation.

Comey will testify Thursday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The hearing will come two days after Comey said that while Clinton and State Department officials were “extremely careless” in their handling of classified material, no charges were appropriate. Attorney General Loretta Lynch accepted that recommendation Wednesday.


4:10 p.m.

Donald Trump wants the political world to know his short list isn’t so short.

The presumptive Republican nominee said Wednesday that his campaign’s pool of potential running mates stands at 10 people, and more “very big names” want to be considered.

He tells the Fox News Channel: “A lot of people are calling me that you wouldn’t even think about. They want to have their names thrown into the hat.”

Trump made the comments shortly after two prospective vice-presidential picks, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker and Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, seemed to bow out in media interviews. Trump met with both in recent days.

Trump says he’s “looking at 10 people” for possible vice-presidential picks. He’s scheduled to campaign with one of them, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Wednesday night in Ohio.

The New York businessman says he’s leaning toward picking an experienced politician, but he’s also considering two generals.

Trump is expected to unveil his running mate before his party’s national convention later in the month.


4 p.m.

The State Department says human error was responsible for a pair of Hillary Clinton emails the FBI identified as marked classified when they were sent.

Describing a somewhat opaque internal process, spokesman John Kirby says officials often mark “call sheets” at the confidential level when the secretary of state is considering whom he or she will call. Once the secretary decides to make the call, the call sheets would be no longer classified.

Kirby says the markings on the Clinton emails mentioned by FBI Director James Comey “were no longer necessary or appropriate” as Clinton already had decided to make the calls.

The call sheets prepare officials for diplomatic discussions. Kirby said Wednesday that the classification is designed to protect “the idea of the call itself.”


1:53 p.m.

Donald Trump says he raised $51 million for his campaign and allied Republicans in the month of June.

That’s a dramatic uptick from his May numbers but sharply less than likely presidential opponent Hillary Clinton’s June haul.

Clinton raised almost $70 million in June for her campaign and Democratic allies, her campaign announced last week.

Clinton has spent tens of millions of dollars more than Trump to build up voter contact operations and advertisements ahead of the November election.

Trump previewed his June numbers on Twitter Tuesday night by writing, “Raised a lot of money for the Republican Party. There will be a big gasp when the figures are announced in the morning. Lots of support! Win.”


1:15 p.m.

A spokesman for Republican Sen. Bob Corker says he has withdrawn his name as a possible running mate for Donald Trump.

Micah Johnson confirmed the comments that the Tennessee senator made in an interview with The Washington Post published Wednesday in which the senator said, “There are people far more suited for being a candidate for vice-president, and I think I’m far more suited for other types of things.”

Corker is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He appeared with Trump at a campaign event in North Carolina on Tuesday.


1:14 p.m.

Donald Trump is defending his record in Atlantic City following a blistering speech from likely rival Hillary Clinton.

Trump says in a lengthy statement that he “created thousands of jobs and made a lot of money in Atlantic City, which was what, as a businessman, I am supposed to do.”

Trump was once a major force in the New Jersey city, but no longer owns any hotels there.

Clinton went after Trump in her speech on a litany of issues, including three bankruptcies involving Trump’s old casinos.

Trump says the use of “the chapter laws of our country” is a standard practice employed by the “country’s elite business people” and helped to save jobs.

He adds: “Nobody understands the economy like I do and no one, especially not Crooked Hillary Clinton, will do more for the economy than I will.”


1:05 p.m.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is ready to endorse Donald Trump.

The Republican governor made his intentions known Wednesday on Twitter. Walker says, “Last August, I said I’d support the GOP nominee. It’s now clear who the RNC delegates will vote to nominate.”

He didn’t cite Trump by name, but added, “He is better than she is.”

Walker said last month he was withholding an endorsement until Trump renounced his comments about a Hispanic judge. Trump has not done that.

The Wisconsin governor said Tuesday that he plans to speak at the upcoming Republican National Convention. Walker, who’s been the subject of Trump attacks, says he’ll put aside their differences for the good of the country.


12:51 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is lashing out at Donald Trump’s business practices, saying that his background in Atlantic City shows what he might do to the American economy.

Clinton says Trump once called his Trump Taj Mahal the “8th wonder of the world” but it filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and the new management cancelled workers’ health insurance and pensions.

She says Trump stiffed many contractors for millions of dollars of work and never paid them. And she says he defaulted on bank loans and bankrupted the companies.

Clinton says of Trump, “what he did here in Atlantic City is exactly what he will do if he wins in November.”

She was introduced in Atlantic City by a retired vice-president of a glass company who says Trump owed his company nearly $500,000 for work that they did on one of his hotels.


11:41 a.m.

House Democrats frustrated with Bernie Sanders’ slow-moving support for Hillary Clinton shouted “timeline, timeline” at the presidential candidate during a closed-door meeting.

A dozen Democrats wanted to know the Vermont senator’s timeline for endorsing Clinton, the presumptive nominee, with just three weeks to the start of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.

Sanders never answered, though at one point he said, “our goal is not to win elections,” then paused. During that pause, Sanders was booed, until he completed his thought by saying, “but to transform America” in order to win elections.

The exchange is according to a Democrat who attended the session and spoke on condition of anonymity to freely discuss the meeting.


10:47 a.m.

Bernie Sanders is applauding Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for a “very bold initiative” to make higher education more affordable and says he hopes to find agreement with her on more issues before the Democratic National Convention.

Sanders has not yet endorsed Clinton’s presidential campaign with only a few weeks before she is expected to become the Democratic nominee. Earlier Wednesday, he met with House Democrats, who are pressuring him to endorse Clinton.

The Vermont senator says he was pleased by her announcement of a proposal that allows families with annual incomes of up to $125,000 to pay no tuition at in-state public colleges and universities. The Clinton plan also calls for a three-month moratorium on loan payments for all federal borrowers. She did not say how she would pay for those proposals or how much they would cost.


10:41 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says it looks like Hillary Clinton got preferential treatment from the FBI in its investigation of the former secretary of state’s use of a private email server for government business.

Ryan made the comments to reporters Wednesday. Asked if she got special treatment, Ryan said: “Looks like it to me.”

He said there are a number of outstanding questions about the FBI inquiry. Director James Comey will be testifying Thursday before the House Oversight committee, and the House Judiciary panel has scheduled a hearing next week with Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Ryan has questioned whether Clinton should receive classified briefings as a presidential candidate in light of Comey’s rebuke of her handling of sensitive material.


10:28 a.m.

House Democrats are “anxious to know” when Sen. Bernie Sanders will formally withdraw from the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

That’s according to Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark, one of the Democrats who met with Sanders for nearly an hour Wednesday. She said the lawmakers “are anxious to know when he’s going to endorse our nominee” for president, Hillary Clinton.

Clark said Sanders is focused on the party’s convention platform and “was vague on his timing” about endorsing Clinton.


10:00 a.m.

Hillary Clinton is announcing new steps aimed at tackling the rising cost of college tuition and the burden of student loan debt, including a three-month moratorium on loan payments for all federal loan borrowers.

Clinton is also calling for a plan that ensures families with annual incomes up to $125,000 pay no tuition at in-state public colleges and universities.

Wednesday’s policy rollout is a direct overture to Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who posed a serious threat to Clinton in the Democratic primary and is yet to endorse her in the general election. A Clinton campaign fact sheet announcing the new proposals was laced with multiple references to Sanders and his calls for addressing college affordability.


9:45 a.m.

Donald Trump is tweeting back at Hillary Clinton ahead of her press conference about his turbulent business record in Atlantic City.

The Republican presidential candidate writes: “I made a lot of money in Atlantic City and left 7 years ago, great timing (as all know). Pols made big mistakes, now many bankruptcies.”

Clinton his expected to highlight Trump’s bankruptcies near the Trump Taj Mahal, which he used to own and where workers have been striking since Friday.


9:30 a.m.

Hillary Clinton is campaigning on the famous boards of Atlantic City.

From the seaside city’s boardwalk, the Democratic presidential candidate is set to cast Republican rival Donald Trump’s turbulent business record there as a prime example of why he shouldn’t become president.

Clinton officials say she will highlight Trump’s record of “stiffing contractors” — all while “pocketing cash for himself.” She’s also expected to highlight the multiple bankruptcies under his management of Atlantic City casinos in the 1980s and 1990s.

Clinton will campaign near the Trump Taj Mahal casino, which still bears the Republican’s name but now belongs to his friend Carl Icahn. Casino workers at the hotel have been striking since Friday.

The Taj opened in 1990, but collapsed into bankruptcy a year later. At the time, Trump paid only a fraction to contractors he owned money for work.