Clin­ton faces new FBI probe as race en­ters last 10 days

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

DES MOINES: Hil­lary Clin­ton em­barks this week­end on the fre­netic fi­nal 10 days of her White House cam­paign, de­ter­mined to shake off re­newed con­tro­versy over the FBI probe into her pri­vate emails. The 69year-old Demo­crat - vy­ing to be­come Amer­ica’s first fe­male pres­i­dent - is still the fron­trun­ner to win the Novem­ber 8 election over her Repub­li­can ri­val Don­ald Trump. Clin­ton has a clear lead in the polls, and vot­ing has al­ready be­gun in 34 of 50 states to choose a suc­ces­sor to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, who will hit the cam­paign trail again next week in de­fense of his one­time sec­re­tary of state. But her mo­men­tum was threat­ened Fri­day by a re­newed erup­tion in a scan­dal that has long dogged her in the race: in­ves­ti­ga­tions into her use of a pri­vate email server while at the State De­part­ment.

Trump glee­fully seized on news that FBI agents are in­ves­ti­gat­ing a newly dis­cov­ered group of mails sent to Clin­ton’s pri­vate ad­dress, to see if they ex­posed any US se­crets.

The probe had been thought fin­ished in July, when the Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion had rec­om­mended that no charges be filed against Clin­ton, al­though it found her to have been “ex­tremely care­less” in her use of a pri­vate server. But FBI Direc­tor James Comey’s let­ter to US law­mak­ers an­nounc­ing that in­quiries had been re­newed shocked the cam­paign and rocked world mar­kets.

Clin­ton cried foul, de­mand­ing that Comey re­veal more in­for­ma­tion about the probe, and de­clared her­self “con­fi­dent” that vot­ers, and the FBI, would con­clude that she had done noth­ing wrong. “The Amer­i­can peo­ple de­serve to get the full and com­plete facts im­me­di­ately,” she said. “We don’t know the facts, which is why we are call­ing on the FBI to re­lease all the in­for­ma­tion that it has.”

Clin­ton’s de­fi­ant words came af­ter Trump - him­self dogged by scan­dal over al­leged sex­ual mis­con­duct de­clared her un­fit for of­fice as a ju­bi­lant crowd of sup­port­ers in New Hamp­shire chanted: “Lock her up!” Con­cern that the re­newed probe would dam­age Clin­ton’s for­merly im­pres­sive mo­men­tum spooked the mar­kets, with US stocks, the dol­lar and oil prices tum­bling lower on the prospect of a close vote.

Comey dropped his bomb­shell in a let­ter to law­mak­ers, re­veal­ing that “in con­nec­tion with an un­re­lated case, the FBI has learned of the ex­is­tence of emails that ap­pear to be per­ti­nent to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” and would take “ap­pro­pri­ate in­ves­tiga­tive steps”. Clin­ton’s cam­paign was out­raged and im­plied that Comey’s in­ter­ven­tion could be po­lit­i­cally-tinged be­cause, in Clin­ton’s words, the let­ter was only sent to “Repub­li­can mem­bers of the House”. “I’m con­fi­dent, what­ever they are, they will not change the con­clu­sion reached in July,” she added.

Ac­cord­ing to the New York Times, the newly dis­cov­ered mails emerged af­ter agents seized elec­tronic de­vices used by Clin­ton’s clos­est aide, Huma Abe­din, and her hus­band, Anthony Weiner. Weiner, a Demo­cratic for­mer con­gress­man who re­signed in 2011 af­ter he was ex­posed for send­ing ex­plicit on­line mes­sages, is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion over al­le­ga­tions he sent sex­ual mes­sages to a 15-year-old girl. NBC News said the newly dis­cov­ered emails were sent by Abe­din to Clin­ton from a lap­top used by Weiner, whose bid to be­come mayor of New York foundered over sim­i­lar “sex­ting” claims in 2013.

Mean­while, Trump, trail­ing in polls both na­tion­ally and in the swing states he must win to se­cure the White House, seized tri­umphantly on the news. “We must not let her take her crim­i­nal scheme into the Oval Of­fice,” the 70-year-old bil­lion­aire told cheer­ing crowds at a cam­paign rally in Manch­ester, New Hamp­shire. “I have great re­spect for the fact that the FBI and the De­part­ment of Jus­tice are now will­ing to have the courage to right the hor­ri­ble mis­take that they made,” he added.

Repub­li­cans on Capi­tol Hill also seemed ju­bi­lant over Clin­ton’s lat­est tra­vails. “Ev­ery­thing that has hap­pened... is the nat­u­ral, prob­a­ble con­se­quence of de­cid­ing you’re go­ing to have a rogue email sys­tem,” Trey Gowdy, chair­man of the con­gres­sional com­mit­tee that first un­cov­ered the ex­is­tence of Clin­ton’s pri­vate server, told Fox News late Fri­day. Sev­eral lead­ing news­pa­pers yes­ter­day faulted Comey for be­ing overzeal­ous in an­nounc­ing that the FBI will be scour­ing the newly-dis­cov­ered emails. “By re­veal­ing it, he in­evitably cre­ates a cloud of sus­pi­cion over Ms. Clin­ton that, if the case’s his­tory is any guide, is un­war­ranted,” The Wash­ing­ton Post wrote on its ed­i­to­rial page Satur­day.

News of the probe took the shine off what should have been a good day for Clin­ton on Fri­day, with the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounc­ing stronger than ex­pected eco­nomic growth num­bers. Clin­ton was due to cam­paign in Mi­ami on Satur­day in the most im­por­tant po­ten­tial swing state in terms of elec­toral votes, Florida. Trump was due to make stops in Colorado and Ari­zona be­fore head­ing to Ne­vada for a rally to­day in Las Ve­gas.

Next week, both can­di­dates will con­tinue to barn­storm bat­tle­ground states. Trump’s cam­paign was rocked this month by the re­lease of 2005 footage show­ing him brag­ging about his grop­ing women, fol­lowed by a string of ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct - which he de­nies. As he fal­tered, Trump piled on the de­fi­ant rhetoric, claim­ing the al­le­ga­tions were part of a plot to rig the election, and threat­en­ing not to rec­og­nize the out­come if he loses.

Hil­lary Clin­ton

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