The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Here’s why Donald Trump says he doesn’t talk more about Hillary Clinton’s email problems

Donald Trump (Robert F. Bukaty/AP)

Donald Trump explained in a Monday interview with me that he does not spend entire campaign rallies talking about Hillary Clinton's email controversy because "when you are in front of an audience of 10 to 20 thousand people, you can’t just talk about Clinton email. ... They don’t want to hear that."

Trump insisted that he faces unique challenges as a candidate because of the size of his crowds and the fact that virtually every one of his speeches is run in full on cable television. "They broadcast every speech I make, which means I have to change it up,"  Trump said.

In a 25-minute phone interview, Trump ranged across a wide variety of topics, including his timing on making a vice presidential pick. But he was most passionate in defense of a speech he gave last week in which he threw away his prepared remarks attacking Clinton's emails after 20 minutes to give a more free-form speech touching on his belief that Saddam Hussein was very good at killing terrorists and continuing his defense of tweeting an image that looked like a Star of David.

I wrote a piece quite critical of that decision. But Trump insisted it was the right one in our conversation.

"I said everything you could say in 15 minutes. ... I covered the various lies," he said. "There’s only so much you can say. At some point they want to hear about ISIS, they want to hear about security, they want to hear about Black Lives Matter." (Trump also noted that "the speeches that are most well received are without teleprompters.")

He acknowledged that although he makes "a few mistakes," his defense of Hussein's terrorist-killing prowess was not one. "He was good at one thing: Killing terrorists,"  Trump said.  "It was only a one-sentence thing. They made a big deal out of it."

The "they" above is, of course, the media, which Trump blames not only for taking his comments about Hussein out of context but for insisting that he did not talk enough about Clinton's emails. "I am talking to a crowd of people who have been standing in line for seven or eight hours," Trump said. "They don’t want to hear about it. I covered every point. The way it’s reported is unfair in that if you read those stories, it’s like I didn’t even mention her."