donald trump iowa rally clinton unbalanced unhinged sot _00002311.jpg
donald trump iowa rally clinton unbalanced unhinged sot _00002311.jpg
Now playing
01:14
Donald Trump: Hillary Clinton is unbalanced, unhinged
Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein waits to be introduced prior to a press conference at the National Press Club August 23, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein waits to be introduced prior to a press conference at the National Press Club August 23, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Now playing
01:44
Jill Stein raises millions for recount
Former Democratic US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to staff and supporters at the New Yorker hotel after her defeat in the presidential election November 9, 2016 in New York. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
Former Democratic US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to staff and supporters at the New Yorker hotel after her defeat in the presidential election November 9, 2016 in New York. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:14
Scientists urge Clinton to call for recount
LYNDEN, WA - MAY 07: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech during a rally at the The Northwest Washington Fair and Event Center on May 7, 2016 in Lynden, Washington. Trump became the Republican presumptive nominee following his landslide win in Indiana on Tuesday. (Photo by Matt Mills McKnight/Getty Images)
Matt Mills McKnight/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
LYNDEN, WA - MAY 07: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech during a rally at the The Northwest Washington Fair and Event Center on May 7, 2016 in Lynden, Washington. Trump became the Republican presumptive nominee following his landslide win in Indiana on Tuesday. (Photo by Matt Mills McKnight/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:25
Donald Trump's wild ride
Now playing
01:46
Trump's challenges in the Middle East
donald trump undocumented immigrants crime fact check origwx ty_00013807.jpg
donald trump undocumented immigrants crime fact check origwx ty_00013807.jpg
Now playing
02:47
Fact checking Trump on crimes by immigrants
Mark Makela/Getty Images/Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Now playing
01:26
Trump vs. the tape on Obama and the protester
Now playing
01:28
Trump compares Clinton email probe to Watergate
Members of the Secret Service rush Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump off the stage at a campaign rally in Reno, Nev., on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/AP
Members of the Secret Service rush Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump off the stage at a campaign rally in Reno, Nev., on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Now playing
01:20
Donald Trump rushed off stage by Secret Service
AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
02:16
Trump reads letter from Patriot's coach at rally
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during rally at the Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, New Hampshire on November 4, 2016.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during rally at the Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, New Hampshire on November 4, 2016.
Now playing
01:56
Trump on US officials: 'What a group of losers'
donald trump nice and cool pensacola fl bts_00001523.jpg
donald trump nice and cool pensacola fl bts_00001523.jpg
Now playing
00:49
Trump's mantra in campaign's final week: Stay on point
donald trump nice to hillary clinton and democrats orig cm_00000000.jpg
donald trump nice to hillary clinton and democrats orig cm_00000000.jpg
Now playing
01:52
Audio of Trump praising the Clintons and Democrats
cuomo lewandowski hillary clinton email exchange newday_00002327.jpg
cuomo lewandowski hillary clinton email exchange newday_00002327.jpg
Now playing
01:28
Cuomo grills Lewandowski on Clinton email 'hypocrisy'
Now playing
01:49
Meet the other Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

Story highlights

Trump latched onto voters' concerns about Clinton's trustworthiness and honesty

Trump's assault on Clinton's character also came as he himself faced stinging criticism from top US officials

(CNN) —  

Donald Trump escalated his attacks Friday on Hillary Clinton’s character, just as top former government officials are questioning his own.

The Republican nominee, speaking in Des Moines, Iowa, accused Clinton of being “unbalanced” and “unstable,” called her a “dangerous” and “pathological” liar and warned voters in this swing state that a Clinton presidency would lead to “the destruction of this country from within.”

After knocking himself off message repeatedly in recent weeks, stoking one controversy after the next, Trump, reading at times from prepared remarks on his podium, latched onto voters’ concerns about Clinton’s trustworthiness and honesty, and sought to amplify the controversies that have beset the Democrat’s campaign.

“Unstable Hillary Clinton, lacks the judgment, temperament and moral character to lead this country – and I believe that so strongly,” Trump told supporters as he accused Clinton of supporting policies that he said could damage US national security. “She’s really pretty close to unhinged, and you’ve seen, you’ve seen it a couple times. The people in the background know it, the people who know her know it and she’s like an unbalanced person.”

Repeatedly during his rally in Des Moines, Trump returned to the topic of Clinton’s character, intertwining those attacks with others on her policy positions and record as secretary of state.

While he did not entirely abandon his signature style of jumping from one topic to the next – including a tangent during which he explained his controversial comment about a crying baby at a recent rally – Trump spent more of his time on the stump than at any rally in recent weeks attacking Clinton.

“The legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, chaos and weakness,” Trump said. “She’s weak. She’s a weak person. I know her. She’s a weak person.”

Trump’s campaign later released a web video highlighting the controversy over Clinton’s use of a private email server while leading the State Department, writing on Facebook that there is “no doubt” that Clinton “is a pathological liar.”

Trump pressed forward with his attacks on Clinton’s character during his next stop Friday night in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“In one way she’s a monster,” Trump said. “In another way she’s a weak person. She’s actually not strong enough to be president.”

Trump’s attacks on Clinton’s character found their mark with his supporters in Des Moines, who broke out in chants of “Lock her up! Lock her up!” to which Trump offered a smile, a thumbs-up and a “thank you” – just over a week after he rejected those chants as a “shame,” before later saying he agreed with the chants.

Several Trump supporters responded more aggressively to Trump’s biting excoriation of Clinton’s character.

“Traitor,” shouted one person in the crowd.

“Kill her,” added another.

A message left with the Trump campaign Friday afternoon was not immediately returned.

Trump’s character also questioned

But Trump’s assault on Clinton’s character also came as he himself faced stinging criticism from top US officials, including a damning editorial on Friday in which the former acting head of the CIA, Michael Morell, a well-respected and non-partisan figure, endorsed Clinton and warned that Trump “is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security.”

“The character traits he has exhibited during the primary season suggest he would be a poor, even dangerous, commander in chief,” Morell wrote, pointing to Trump’s “obvious need for self-aggrandizement, his overreaction to perceived slights” and “his routine carelessness with the facts.”

It’s a similar line of attack that Trump has faced from Clinton, who has accused the brash billionaire of being “temperamentally unfit” to serve as commander in chief.

In addition to Morell, a group of former senior US government officials and military officers, including several who served in top posts under Republican presidents, denounced Trump in a recent letter and called Trump’s recent comments wavering on the strength of the US’s commitment to the NATO military alliance “reckless, dangerous, and extremely unwise.”

While he spent much time attacking Clinton, the real estate mogul and GOP nominee also defended himself from accusations against his own character.

“All my life, I have been told, ‘You have the greatest temperament,’” Trump said Friday in Des Moines. “I handle pressure.”