FBI lifts Clinton email cloud but Trump remains on her heels
THE FBI lifted the threat that Hillary Clinton could face charges over her emails, leaving White House rival Donald Trump to demand that US voters punish her at the ballot box.
FBI director James Comey unceremoniously closed down his probe into the former secretary of state’s private server, a decision which came as a relief to the Democratic camp.
But Mr Trump came back fighting, and experts said the renewed scandal had already damaged the 69-year-old former first lady’s chance of becoming America’s first female president.
Ms Clinton’s lead dropped from 5.7 to 2.9 percentage points in the week since the scandal returned, according to influential data journalist Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com.
Ms Clinton had booked a star-studded roster of supporters – headlined by President Barack Obama and rock star Bruce Springsteen – for her final events yesterday.
Mr Trump is also touring key swing states and was determined not to let Ms Clinton off the hook over her email, a symbol for his supporters of the corruption of the Washington elite.
“Right now she’s being protected by a rigged system. It’s a totally rigged system. I’ve been saying it for a long time,” he declared at a rally in Michigan, as his supporters chanted “Lock her up!”
Late last month, with Ms Clinton seemingly on a glide path to victory, Mr Comey sent shockwaves through both campaigns by announcing a renewed FBI investigation in Ms Clinton’s email use.
In July, the Justice Department, acting on the FBI’s recommendation, had decided not to prosecute Ms Clinton for exposing State Department secrets on an unsecured email system.
But, after an undiscovered batch of emails was found on a laptop belonging to the husband of one of Ms Clinton’s key aides, Mr Comey warned he was revisiting the case.
Ms Trump, the 70-year-old tycoon and Republican flag-bearer, seized on the opening, condemning Ms Clinton’s “criminal scheme” and arguing that she is unfit to be president.
Opinion polls tightened as Mr Trump began to recover ground he lost after several women accused him of sexual assault, and the race looked headed for a photo finish.
Not touching on the FBI decision to drop the case, Ms Clinton hammered her opponent over his sometimes ugly rhetoric and, implicitly, the alleged covert Russian interference that have poisoned the race.
“There are powerful forces inside and outside of America that do threaten to pull us apart,” she said.
If Ms Clinton wins, she will seek to build on Mr Obama’s cautious but progressive legacy, including his controversial health insurance reforms.
Mr Trump has vowed to tear up the reform along with America’s free trade agreements, to rebuild a “depleted” military and review US alliances. –
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at The Armory in Manchester, New Hampshire, on November 6.