Next week’s presidential election will probably mean that either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be handed the keys to the White House. In this most bizarre of elections, both Trump and Clinton have been beset by controversy after controversy. Trump’s comments about Mexicans, women and his opponent have led to accusations of racism, misogyny and sharp business practices. Against any opponent except Clinton, Donald Trump would probably be conceding defeat before voters go to the polls. The one thing that Trump has stuck to consistently is his insistence that Hillary Clinton is “crooked.”
For Trump, Mrs. Clinton’s email scandal is the gift that keeps on giving. Clinton’s actions whilst Secretary of State have come back to haunt her time and again. Clinton’s lack of transparency over the issue, combined with an FBI investigation, have led to calls for Clinton to be prosecuted. In the wake of Trump being accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, you would have assumed that Clinton was on easy street. The polls agreed, just a week ago some polls showing that Clinton had a near 90 percent chance of winning the election.
Then along came FBI director James B. Comey. According to the New York Times, Comey has written to congress to say that the FBI is reopening its investigation into Clinton’s emails. The Independent reports that Comey says through an investigation into an unrelated case, “the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent” to the Clinton case. As a result, Clinton’s case has been re-opened.
The fact that Comey made this new investigation public just days before an election is a new and bizarre twist in the Clinton-Trump face-off. Whilst Trump will be delighted with Comey’s intervention, Clinton is furious.
Clinton has called for the FBI to “release all the information that it has, let’s get it out.” According to the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Comey was advised by the Justice Department that his actions “would contradict the department’s rules against taking steps that could influence, or be seen as trying to influence, an election.” It would seem that Comey’s actions have had an effect as The Guardian is reporting that the gap between Clinton and Trump has narrowed considerably in recent days.
Of course where Clinton and Trump are concerned, even the actions of the FBI and Justice Department can draw controversy. The Daily Beast reports that former president Bill Clinton met with senior Justice Department official Attorney General Loretta Lynch when their respective aircraft were on the ground in Phoenix. Lynch would have us believe that her meeting with Clinton was a social one.
“I did see President Clinton at the Phoenix airport as he was leaving and spoke to myself and my husband on the plane. Our conversation was a great deal about grandchildren, it was primarily social about our travels and he mentioned golf he played in Phoenix.”
Whether Clinton’s visit with the Attorney General may have been completely innocent, many will believe that Lynch was, at the very least, ill-advised to have met with Clinton. Having a private meeting with the husband of someone your department is investigating can only lead to claims that Clinton was trying to encourage the Justice Department to ensure that Comey stayed quiet, at least until after the election.
Comey’s intervention and a new Clinton investigation could yet have a huge effect on the outcome of this year’s presidential election. Comey’s actions at this time are controversial and in some areas of the world his actions would have been illegal. In the U.K. there is a period known as “purdah” before elections that makes it illegal for national or local government officials to do anything that may unduly influence the election’s outcome.
Purdah also applies to the executive officers of branches of state like the police or the Justice Department. It is usual for purdah to begin six weeks before the election. Comey’s actions are the latest twist in the battle between Trump and Clinton. This is an election that makes much of the world wonder how on Earth either Clinton or Trump made it onto the ballot paper.
[Featured Image by Brennan Linsley/AP Photos]