GOP nominee Donald Trump went into attack mode early Friday morning against former Miss Universe Alicia Machado and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, calling the former beauty queen "disgusting" and a "con" and accusing Clinton of falling for the woman's traps.
The tweets, posted at about 5:30 a.m. Friday, started off with an accusation that "Crooked Hillary" had been "duped and used," and eventually accused Clinton of helping Machado become a United States citizen so she could bring his past with her up in Monday night's presidential debate.
In Trump's early morning Twitter comments:
The anti-Machado tweets came on the heels of another Twitter message, posted just after 3 a.m. Friday, about reports concerning him using unnamed "sources:"
And just before midnight, Trump attacked CNN and one of its stars, Don Lemon:
The Don Lemon tweet came after his show covered Trump's comments to Howard Stern on Iraq, his birtherism statements, attacks on former President Bill Clinton's past, and new reports about issues at the Trump Foundation, reports Mediaite.
The Machado tweets, posted within minutes of each other, came the morning after one of his most trusted advisers and surrogates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, told an ABC News podcast that it would be best for Trump to avoid attacks on former President Bill Clinton's past sex scandals, as "you're never going to beat the Clintons in the mud."
However, Gingrich on Wednesday defended Trump comments on Machado's weight gain, telling an audience that "you're not supposed to gain 60 pounds during the year that you're Miss Universe," reports Politico.
A panel on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program slammed Trump for his tweet storm, questioning why he'd be making such attacks with the election just over a month away.
"It's unnatural and weird unless you have followed Donald Trump's not only campaign, but followed his career." show host Joe Scarborough said. "He is the central figure in our 'Bonfire of the Vanities.' This is how he's operated. Nobody should be shocked this morning. This is how he's operated for 40 years. It's how he's going to operate for the rest of his life."
"He doesn't understand that he told the women of this country that they're not beautiful, unless they are certain weight that's almost impossible unless you starve yourself," co-host Mika Brzezinski, a frequent critic of Trump's, also commented.
"It's one thing to think that way and maybe 30 years ago when you're running pageants but to double down on it today, that's what he's telling women, that there is a line of what is beautiful . . . you need to be skinny to the point of hungry and worried about this because of him. It's so sick. It's beyond personal," Brzezinski added.
Machado, a Miss Venezuela who became Miss Universe in 1996, became the topic of discussion after Clinton said during Monday's debate that Trump had called the beauty queen "Miss Piggy" and other names because of her weight-gain after winning the crown.
But on Tuesday, Machado also launched attacks against Trump's wife, Melania, calling her a "doll" and a "decoration" and making fun of her English skills, reports Fox News.
Also on Thursday, video was released showing Machado and a male contestant on a Spanish reality show in 2005, after they were caught on night vision cameras. She was engaged at the time to then-Philadelphia Phillies star Bobby Abreu, and the couple broke up shortly after.
Another video emerged of Trump and Machado discussing her weight in 1997 and during the end of the clip, Trump mocks the physical appearance of several reporters and Machado laughs.
Also this week, it was revealed that a Venezuelan judge accused Machado of threatening to kill him for indicting her then-boyfriend for attempted murder during the 1990s. The victim's family also accused her of driving her boyfriend's getaway car, but she was never indicted due to lack of evidence.
The expanding attacks on Machado also come as Trump's campaign struggles over whether he should launch attacks on Clinton over her husband's sex scandals. Trump did not attack her on that score during the debate, and after said he'd thought about doing so, but he held back out of consideration for their daughter, Chelsea, who was in the audience.
However, according to The Associated Press, that restraint does not appear to have much hold.
In talking points later distributed by the campaign and obtained by the AP, Trump supporters were advised that "Mr. Trump has never treated women the way Hillary Clinton and her husband did when they actively worked to destroy Bill Clinton's accusers."
The document mentions Gennifer Flowers, Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones, a former Arkansas state worker who sued Clinton for sexual harassment. The former president eventually agreed to an $850,000 settlement with Jones, but acknowledged no wrongdoing.
Trump supporters were advised to blame Hillary Clinton for being "an active participant in trying to destroy the women who has come forward with a claim."
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