Trump's claim that Hillary "acid washed" her emails is a whopper of a lie

Trump's claim that Hillary "acid washed" her emails is a whopper of a lie

During Sunday night's town hall presidential debate, Donald Trump threatened to jail Hillary Clinton over her email controversy. He accused Clinton of purging some 33,000 emails by "acid washing" or "bleaching" — a remark he has made on numerous other occasions. 

"The thing that you should be apologizing for are the 33,000 emails that you deleted and that you acid washed," Trump said on Sunday night. Later on, he doubled down: "You get a subpoena and after getting the subpoena, you delete 33,000 emails. And then you acid wash them or bleach them, as you would say — a very expensive process."

On Sept. 5, Trump told ABC News the same story: "I mean, she had her emails — 33,000 emails — acid washed. The most sophisticated person never heard about acid washing. Acid washing is a very expensive process and that's to really get rid of them."

Then, on Sept. 6, Trump asked a crowd in North Carolina, "But why do you [Clinton] acid wash or bleach the emails? Nobody even heard of it before, very expensive."

He gave the same spiel to a crowd in Virginia that same day. This time, he said former New York mayor Giuliani confirmed the acid washing. "How about the acid wash of the emails that didn't mean anything? How about the 33,000 missing emails that were acid washed — acid washed. And Rudy was telling me, nobody does it because it's such an expensive process." 

So! Is Trump telling the truth? And how does one acid wash an email, anyway?

Fact-checking Trump's claims about Clinton's emails

The first lie: the timeline. Clinton's campaign called for the personal emails to be deleted "months before the subpoena," according to the Washington Post.

The second lie: whatever Trump thinks acid washing is. You can't acid wash your emails like you'd acid wash a pair of jeans. 

The FBI has said that Clinton's tech team used software called BleachBit, according to FactCheck.org. It's a simple tool for cleaning out a disk. If its name were taken 100% literally, though, you might think it involves actual acid.

BleachBit "looks like the type of tool someone would run who's conscious of cleaning old crud off their system," computer security expert Jonathan Zdziarski told CNN Money. "Someone trying to cover their tracks would likely pay for and use a much more expensive, specialized data-destruction tool."

The third lie: Trump's claim that acid washing emails is "a very expensive process." Giuliani is quoted on Trump's website as saying, "This software is very expensive and is used by criminals seeking to hide evidence from law enforcement." Sorry. BleachBit is a free program.

Trump's campaign told FactCheck.org that he didn't mean Clinton literally acid washed her emails. "He was using a play on words, referring to Clinton's joke a year ago about 'wiping' her server with a cloth.'" 

Unfortunately, Trump's repeated statements never suggest he's making a "play on words," and a presidential debate is not an ideal time for saying things you don't actually mean. Of course, Trump plays by his own rules: On Sunday night, he lied at least 20 times.