WASHINGTON — Bernie Sanders on Monday highlighted the Justice Department’s roughly $5 billion settlement with Goldman Sachs over the sale of mortgage-backed securities, saying it’s a system that must be changed.
During a rally in Albany, N.Y., the Democratic presidential candidate read part of an Associated Press story about the settlement, announced Monday, to resolve state and federal investigations into mortgages practices before the 2008 financial crisis. The government accused the bank of misleading investors about the quality of its loans.
Instead of the term ‘‘shoddy,’’ Sanders said, ‘‘the real word is illegal.’’ He said ‘‘this is the system that we are living in and this is the system that we have to change.’’
The Vermont senator is trailing Hillary Clinton in the polls before Tuesday’s New York presidential primary.
Sanders also dropped by a Buffalo union hall Monday to address workers who plan to strike against Verizon on Wednesday morning. He told members of the Communications Workers of America, Local 1122, that they are showing ‘‘enormous courage’’ by demonstrating for job security and better pensions.
Sanders said the union members are standing up to ‘‘the outrageous greed of Verizon and corporate America.’’ The CWA endorsed Sanders in December. He also held a rally is Buffalo on Monday night.
Clinton hopes to capture what her team says would be an all but insurmountable lead by the end of the month.
Sanders believes he can turn a string of primary wins into a victory in the delegate-rich state. He needs to win 68 percent of the remaining delegates and uncommitted superdelegates if he hopes to get the Democratic nomination. That would require blow-out victories in upcoming states, big and small, including winning the New York primary.
Campaigning across southern New York on Monday, Clinton targeted Sanders’ record on guns, immigration, Wall Street reform, and foreign policy.
‘‘I have noticed that under the bright spotlight and scrutiny here in New York, Senator Sanders has had trouble answering questions about whatever his plan is,’’ she told reporters after a campaign event at an Indian restaurant in Queens.
On gun control. Clinton said Sanders’ record shows that he has failed to take a strong stand against stopping the spread of firearms.
Sanders has cited his background as a senator from Vermont as the reason for some of his votes against gun-control measures, saying that people in rural states have a different relationship with guns.
Most of the guns used in killings in New York, Clinton told an audience in Long Island, come from out of state. The highest per-capita number of guns used in New York crime comes from Vermont, she said, prompting an audible gasp from the crowd.
Clinton said: ‘‘This is not, oh I live in a rural state we don’t have any of those problems. You know what, it’s easy to cross borders.’’
She added that people who are ‘‘dangerously mentally ill, they cross borders, too, and sometimes they do it to get the guns they use.’’
Clinton also cast Sanders as unprepared for the White House, saying the Democratic candidate ‘‘has had trouble answering questions.’’
Clinton said she’s looking forward to a debate in Brooklyn later this week, adding that Sanders has struggled to detail his foreign policy positions and plans to regulate Wall Street.
Sanders hit back at a rally in the upstate New York city of Binghamton, rallying supporters with a lengthy riff that slammed Clinton for promoting fracking as secretary of state and only offering conditional opposition to the practice.
The oil- and gas-drilling method, reviled by environmentalists, has been banned in New York.
The harsher tone comes just days before the two Democrats will meet on stage for the first Democratic primary debate in more than a month. Since their last face-off, the contest has taken a decidedly negative turn, with the two candidates trading a series of barbs over their qualifications for the White House.
Clinton has avoided directly calling for Sanders to exit the race, saying that she campaigned until the end in 2008 and that she’s all for a ‘‘good hard contest.’’
But she denounced the aggressive tone that some of Sanders’ supporters have taken toward her, saying she'd seen reports that her backers have been targeted and harassed.
‘‘There seems to be a growing level of anxiety in that campaign, which I hope doesn’t spill over into the way that his supporters treat other people,’’ she said.