October 9, 2016: Trump strangely and repeatedly claims Clinton “acid washed” her emails.

Donald Trump (Credit: Getty Images)

Donald Trump (Credit: Getty Images)

One of the stranger comments to come from the second general election presidential debate is Donald Trump’s insistence that Clinton literally washed her deleted emails with a chemical.

While Trump speaks about appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton and to “lock her up,” he brings up her email scandal and repeatedly mentions the idea that Clinton has “acid washed” her emails.

Right before calling for a special prosecutor, he says, “The thing that you should be apologizing for are the 33,000 emails that you deleted and that you acid washed.”

This is an acid-washed vest. (Credit: public domain)

This is an acid-washed vest. (Credit: public domain)

Later in the debate, and just before reiterating the call for a special prosecutor, he says again, “You delete 33,000 emails. And then you acid wash them, or bleach them, as you would say—a very expensive process.”

Trump’s campaign claims that the comment is a play on words. But the meaning of such a play on word isn’t clear. Acid washing is a process to fade the colors in mostly blue jeans and tee-shirts.

Slate theorizes that Trump read news reports that Platte Rivers Neworks employee Paul Combetta used a free computer program called BleachBit to destroy all traces of Clinton’s emails from her private server. Then Trump began referring to Clinton “bleaching” her emails. But somehow that evolved into frequent mentions of “acid washing” instead.

Slate further theorizes that Trump has come to take these words literally. In a public speech in August 2016, Trump suggested Clinton used chemicals to destroy the emails: “Thirty-three thousand emails that she deleted. They’re gone. And not only deleted folks, she bleached—which somebody said they had never even heard of—in a very expensive fashion, used chemicals so nobody will ever be able to see ‘em. Who does this?” (Slate, 10/10/2016) (Slate, 9/1/2016)

October 9, 2016: Trump tells Clinton he would appoint a special prosecutor to look into her use of a private email server, and says he would put her in jail.

Just two days after Wikileaks releases their first batch of hacked emails from Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, there is a presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri, and it includes a contentious exchange between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server while she is secretary of state.

Clinton and Trump spar at a presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016. (Credit: John Locher / The Associated Press)

Clinton and Trump spar at a presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016. (Credit: John Locher / The Associated Press)

He says, “I think the one that you should really be apologizing for and the thing that you should be apologizing for are the 33,000 emails that you deleted, and that you acid washed, and then the two boxes of emails and other things last week that were taken from an office and are now missing. And I’ll tell you what. I didn’t think I’d say this, but I’m going to say it, and I hate to say it. But if I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there has never been so many lies, so much deception. There has never been anything like it, and we’re going to have a special prosecutor.”

He continues, “When I speak, I go out and speak, the people of this country are furious. In my opinion, the people that have been long-term workers at the FBI are furious. There has never been anything like this, where emails… and you get a subpoena, you get a subpoena, and after getting the subpoena, you delete 33,000 emails, and then you acid wash them or bleach them, as you would say, very expensive process. So we’re going to get a special prosecutor, and we’re going to look into it, because you know what? People have been… their lives have been destroyed for doing one-fifth of what you’ve done. And it’s a disgrace. And honestly, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

Clinton responds, “Everything he just said is absolutely false, but I’m not surprised.”

Trump asks, “Oh really?”

Clinton gives a long response which ends with the comment, “It’s good that somebody with the temperament of Donald Trump is not running this country.”

Trump immediately shoots back: “Because you’d be in jail.”
Anderson Cooper (left) and Martha Raddatz are the presidential debate moderators at Washington University in St. Louis on October 9, 2016. (Credit: Washington University)

Anderson Cooper (left) and Martha Raddatz are the presidential debate moderators at Washington University in St. Louis, on October 9, 2016. (Credit: Washington University)

Martha Raddatz follows up with a question for Clinton, “And Secretary Clinton, I do want to follow-up on e-mails. You’ve said your handling of your e-mails was a mistake, you’ve disagreed with the FBI Director James Comey calling your handling of classified information “extremely careless”. The FBI said there were 110 classified e-mails which were exchanged, eight of which were top secret and it was possible hostile actors did gain access to those e-mails. You don’t call that extremely careless?”

Clinton responds,… “I take classified materials very seriously and always have. When I was on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I was privy to a lot of classified material. Obviously, as secretary of state I had some of the most important secrets that we possess, such as going after Bin Laden. So, I am very committed to taking classified information seriously and as I said, there is no evidence that any classified information ended up in the wrong hands.”

Trump answers, again with the suggestion that Hillary would be in jail if she were anyone else, … “If you did that in the private sector, you’d be put in jail, let alone after getting a subpoena from the United States Congress.” (The Hill, 10/9/2016) (The New York Times, 10/9/2016)

Trump’s comments draw many reactions. His vice presidential candidate Mike Pence approves. However, many others, including Republicans, react negatively. That includes 23 former Republican Justicee Department officials, who write a letter condemning the comments.

October 9, 2016: Trump criticizes Clinton for her email scandal in the second presidential debate.

During the second general election presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, in St. Louis, Missouri, Clinton is asked by debate host Martha Raddatz, “You disagreed with FBI Director James Comey, [who called] your handling of classified information, quote, ‘extremely careless.’ The FBI said that there were 110 classified emails that were exchanged, eight of which were top secret, and that it was possible hostile actors did gain access to those emails. You don’t call that extremely careless?”

Clinton at the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Clinton at the presidential debate on October 9, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Clinton gives a long answer that includes the comment, “It was a mistake, and I take responsibility. I’m very committed to taking classified information seriously. And as I said, there is no evidence that any classified information ended up in the wrong hands.”

Trump reponds: “And yet, she didn’t know the letter ‘C’ on a document? She’s lying. Do you think it was fine to delete 33,000 emails? I don’t think so. You should be ashamed of yourself. … She said the 33,000 emails had to do with her daughter’s wedding, number one, and a yoga class. Well, maybe we’ll give three or three or four or five or something. 33,000 emails deleted, and now she’s saying there wasn’t anything wrong. And more importantly, that was after getting a subpoena. That wasn’t before. That was after. She got it from the United States Congress.”

Donald Trump speaking during the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Donald Trump speaks during the presidential debate on October 9, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

After some more commentary, he finishes, “If you did that in the private sector, you’d be put in jail, let alone after getting a subpoena from the United States Congress.”

Clinton responds, “It’s just not true.”

“You didn’t delete them?” Trump asks.

“It was personal emails, not official.”

“Oh, 33,000?”

Clinton says, “Well, we turned over 35,000.” (Los Angeles Times, 10/10/2016)

This is the second time in the debate Trump threatens Clinton with jail regarding her emails. He also says she wouldn’t like it if he becomes president, “Because you’d be in jail.”

Note that Raddatz is wrong in saying Clinton exchanged eight individual “top secret” emails. In fact, there were eight “top secret” email chains involving Clinton which contained at least 22 mails. Also, Clinton actually turned over 30,068 emails to the State Department, not 35,000 as she says. She kept 31,830 emails which were later deleted, not 30,000 or 33,000, as Trump says. Furthermore, Trump’s “acid-washed” comment appears to be a garbled version of the fact that the computer program BleachBit was used to permanently wipe her emails. Finally, Clinton is incorrect claimng all the deleted emails were personal. In the month prior to this debate, it was reported that about 5,600 of her deleted emails were actually deemed work-related.

October 9, 2016—October 13, 2016: Many, including Republicans, criticize Trump for threatening to put Clinton in jail.

Donald Trump creates a firestorm of responses after the second general election presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 9, 2016, due to his threat to Clinton that “If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation,” and that she should “be in jail.”Trump’s remarks draw widespread and bipartisan condemnation for being un-American, as well as praise coming from some supporters.

Praise for Trump’s remarks is rare, except perhaps among his ordinary supporters:

    Frank Luntz's focus group at the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri. (Credit: Fox News)

    Frank Luntz’s focus group at the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri. (Credit: Fox News)

  • Republican pollster Frank Luntz hosts a group of 30 undecided voters at the debate. According to the results of the poll, Trump’s highest moment during the first half of the debate is when he vows to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton if he is elected president, as well as telling her she should be “ashamed of herself” for misleading the American public on the email issue. By the end of the debate, 21 participants tell Luntz that Trump’s performance had a positive impact on their voting choice going forward, while nine are impressed by Clinton’s performance.  (The Washington Examiner, 10/09/2016)
  • Kellyanne Conway talks with reporters following the presidential debate on October 9, 2016, in St Louis, Missouri.

  • Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway says, “That was a quip.” And regarding Trump’s threat to appoint a special prosecutor, Conway says only that he was “channeling the frustration” of voters.
  • Republican vice presidential nominee and Indiana Governor Mike Pence says this comment by his running mate Trump “was one of the better moments of the debate.” (Huffington Post, 10/10/2016)

The overwhelming majority of responses by legal experts and other politicians are critical of Trump. For instance:

  • Former Attorney General Eric Holder, who served under President Obama, writes on Twitter, “In the USA we do not threaten to jail political opponents. [Donald Trump] said he would. He is promising to abuse the power of the office.”
  • John Yoo (Credit: Berkley College)

    John Yoo (Credit: Berkley College)

  • John Yoo, a former Justice Department official under President George W. Bush who defended the US government’s use of torture, says that Trump “reminds me a lot of early Mussolini. . . . Very, disturbingly similar.” He also calls Trump’s promise to appoint a special prosecutor to go after Clinton is “a compounded stupidity,” because “if you are a Republican or a conservative, you think that special prosecutors are unconstitutional.” (The Washington Post, 10/12/2016)
  • Paul Charlton, a former federal prosecutor and US attorney under George W. Bush, states, “For Donald Trump to say he will have a special prosecutor appointed and to have tried and convicted her already and say she’d go to jail is wholly inappropriate and the kind of talk more befitting a Third World country than it is our democracy. … The Department of Justice isn’t a political tool and it ought not to be employed that way.”
  • Marc Jimenez (Credit: public domain)

    Marc Jimenez (Credit: public domain)

  • Marc Jimenez, a lawyer who served on the legal team backing Bush in the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court showdown and also was a US attorney under George W. Bush, says: “This statement demonstrates the clear and present danger that Trump presents to our justice system. For a president to ‘instruct’ an attorney general to commence any prosecution or take any particular action is abhorrent. If it occurred, it would be a politically motivated decision that would cheapen the Department of Justice and contradict the core principle that prosecutors should never consider political factors in their charging or other decisions.”
  • Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor who worked in George W. Bush’s White House, says: “A special prosecutor is supposed to investigate and isn’t appointed to put people in jail. You’re kind of skipping over an important step there. Can you imagine being the defendant prosecuted after being told the prosecutor was someone who was appointed to put you in jail, that had already foreordained that result? … It’s absurd and, if it were serious, it would be absolutely terrifying because it suggests there’s no due process.” (Politico, 10/10/2016)
  • Ari Fleischer (Credit: Jim Young / Reuters)

    Ari Fleischer (Credit: Jim Young / Reuters)

  • Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary under George W. Bush and a supporter of Trump, writes on Twitter, “Winning candidates don’t threaten to put opponents in jail. Presidents don’t threaten prosecution of individuals. Trump is wrong on this.” (The Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/10/2016)
  • Michael Mukasey, who served as attorney general for George W. Bush, says, “That to me is the… is a watershed event… that it’s the president of a different party. That makes it an entirely different kind of exercise in my view.” Mukasey spoke at the Republican convention in July 2016, but he says Trump’s suggestion “would make us look like a banana republic.” (NPR, 10/10/2016)
  • Paul Staniland (Credit: University of Chicago)

    Paul Staniland (Credit: University of Chicago)

  • Paul Staniland, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, says these kinds of attacks “can undermine the whole idea of democratic elections, where each side agrees that whoever won will then rule. … This is something that, as someone who studies the developing world and political violence, is kind of freaky. It kind of reminds me of Bangladesh. Thailand is like this, too. You have this real sense that whoever wins the election will go after the loser. Even if leaders succeed only rarely in using the state to punish their rivals, that can quickly spiral out of control, turning politics into a zero-sum game for control over the institutions of law and order.”
  • Sheri Berman, a professor of political science at Barnard College in New York, says, “The rhetoric alone is extremely dangerous because it undermines people’s belief in our democratic institutions and process. Strongmen typically come to power in democracies, by telling citizens to distrust institutions and procedure — that what is needed is to burn it all down.”
  • Adrian LeBas (Credit: Wilson Center)

    Adrian LeBas (Credit: Wilson Center)

  • Adrienne LeBas, a political scientist at American University, says Trump’s comment is “a threat to the rule of law, a threat to the stability of our institutions, a threat to basic agreements that are necessary for democracy to function. For those of us who work on authoritarian regimes and hybrid regimes, this sort of thing is just eerily familiar.” She calls this “the absolute personalization of power,” similar to what has been seen in “Zimbabwe, Togo, Ethiopia, cases like that, where there are explicit threats to imprison opponents.” (New York Times, 10/11/2016)
  • Twenty-three Republican former Justice Department officials sign a statement criticizing his jail threat and calling for Trump’s defeat in November, 2016.

October 9, 2016: Clinton confirms the authenticity of a key email about her private paid speeches.

On January 25, 2016, Clinton’s head researcher Tony Carrk sent an email to Clinton campaign manager John Podesta and other Clinton aides that consisted of dozens of pages of potentially politically damaging quotes from Clinton’s private paid speeches. The review included a speech Clinton gave that reflected on the necessity of having “unsavory” political dealings, and said that “you need both a public and private position.” (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)

WikiLeaks released the email on October 7, 2016, as part of a release of thousands of emails from the private email account of Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta. The Clinton campaign refuses to confirm the authenticity of any of the WikiLeaks emails.

However, during the second general election presidential debate in St. Louis, on October 9, 2016, Clinton  seemingly confirms the authenticity of this key email in one of her comments.

Martha Raddatz is a moderator at the second presidential debate on October 9, 2016. (Credit: Getty Images)

Debate moderator Martha Raddatz asks Clinton: “This question involves WikiLeaks release of purported excerpts of Secretary Clinton’s paid speeches, which she has refused to release, and one line in particular, in which you, Secretary Clinton, purportedly say you need both a public and private position on certain issues. So… is it okay for politicians to be two-faced? Is it acceptable for a politician to have a private stance on issues?”

Clinton replies: “Well, right. As I recall, that was something I said about Abraham Lincoln after having seen the wonderful Steven Spielberg movie called ‘Lincoln.’ It was a master class watching President Lincoln get the Congress to approve the 13th Amendment. It was principled, and it was strategic. And I was making the point that it is hard sometimes to get the Congress to do what you want to do and you have to keep working at it. And, yes, President Lincoln was trying to convince some people, he used some arguments, convincing other people, he used other arguments. That was a great — I thought a great display of presidential leadership.”

Clinton speaking at the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 7, 2016. (Credit: Getty Images)

Clinton speaking at the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 9, 2016. (Credit: Getty Images)

In essence, Clinton acknowledges her controversial phrase “having a public and private position” in the Carrk email is authentic, by describing in detail what she meant when she said it.

Clinton then further replies to Raddatz’s question: “But, you know, let’s talk about what’s really going on here, Martha, because our intelligence community just came out and said in the last few days that the Kremlin, meaning Putin and the Russian government, are directing the attacks, the hacking on American accounts to influence our election. And WikiLeaks is part of that, as are other sites where the Russians hack information, we don’t even know if it’s accurate information, and then they put it out. We have never in the history of our country been in a situation where an adversary, a foreign power, is working so hard to influence the outcome of the election. And believe me, they’re not doing it to get me elected. They’re doing it to try to influence the election for Donald Trump.” (New York Times, 10/10/2016)

October 10, 2016: Vice presidential candidate Mike Pence says Trump threatening to jail Clinton “was one of the better moments of the debate.”

Mike Pence (Credit: Mark Taylor / Flickr)

Mike Pence (Credit: Mark Taylor / Flickr)

Republican vice presidential nominee and Indiana governor Mike Pence agrees with Donald Trump threat to Clinton a day earlier in the second general election presidential debate that If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation,” and that she should “be in jail.”

Pence states, “It was one of the better moments of the debate.” He adds that “these remarks were simply referring to [Trump’s] promise to appoint a special prosecutor to look into Clinton’s use of a private server during her time as secretary of state and whether she allowed special access to donors to the Clinton Foundation. … What Donald Trump said is no one is going to be above the law. There’s going to be no double standards and we’re going to look into and get to the bottom of this, which I think is what the American people would fully expect, an even application of the law and I fully support him.”

Pence also believes Trump’s plan is no different from what the FBI was considering six months ago with its Clinton email investigation, though that resulted in a decision not to indict her.

Many Republicans have largely accepted and encouraged calls to imprison Clinton. For instance, the Republican National Convention included frequent chants from the crowd to ““lock her up,” and Trump has previously said Clinton “has got to go to jail.” (Huffington Post, 10/10/2016)

October 11, 2016: Twenty-three former Republican Justice Department officials criticize Trump for threatening Clinton with jail.

During the second general election presidential debate in St. Louis, Donald Trump tells Hillary Clinton “you’ll be in jail” if he wins the presidency. The threat has prompted a group of Republican former Justice Department officials to call for Trumps defeat in November 2016.

Donald I. Baker (Credit: George Washington University)

Donald I. Baker (Credit: George Washington University)

Donald Ayer, who served as deputy attorney general under George H. W. Bush, and Donald I. Baker, assistant attorney general for the antitrust division under Gerald Ford, organized the statement. It is signed by 23 former officials served under five Republican presidents from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush, and claims, “None of us will vote for Mr. Trump and all believe he must be defeated at the polls.”

The statement reads: “We believe that Donald Trump’s impulsive treatment, flair for controversy, vindictive approach to his opponents and alarming views outside the constitutional mainstream ill suit him to oversee the execution of the laws in a fair and evenhanded manner.”

The former officials say Trump’s threats are “shockingly contrary to the premises of our democracy, and conjures up images of foreign police states.” Trump’s “every word seems calculated to create an atmosphere of arbitrariness and unpredictability much better suited to an authoritarian regime.”

William Ruckelshaus (Credit: Energy Foundation)

William Ruckelshaus (Credit: Energy Foundation)

The Wall Street Journal writes, “One notable signer is former Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus, who, along with the late Attorney General Elliot Richardson, resigned in 1973 rather than carry out President Nixon’s order to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in an episode known as the Saturday Night Massacre.”

The letter also condemns Trump for proposing to re-institute waterboarding and inflict other forms of torture on enemy prisoners and to kill the families of terrorists, saying those demonstrate his “basic ignorance of the facts as well as the role of our legal system in the fight against terror.” (Wall Street Journal, 10/11/2016)

October 11, 2016: Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta blames Russia and Trump for the leak of his personal emails.

John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chair, publicly comments about the fact that WikiLeaks started releasing his personal emails on October 7, 2016.

Clinton campaign chair John Podesta speaks to the press on October 7, 2016 as Clinton’s Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri looks on. (Credit: Reuters)

He blames the Russian government for hacking his Gmail account, though he offers no specific evidence. “I’ve been involved in politics for nearly five decades, and this definitely is the first campaign that I’ve been involved with in which I’ve had to tangle with Russian intelligence agencies, who seem to be doing everything they

can on behalf of our opponent.”

He also says that the FBI communicated with him on October 9, 2016, and told him the breach of his email account has become part of a larger investigation into recent hacks of US political entities, for which the US government generally blames the Russian government.

Roger Stone (Credit: The Hill)

Roger Stone (Credit: The Hill)

Podesta claims that it is likely the Russians are trying to help the presidential campaign of Donald Trump (R), due to Trump having policies that are more politically favorable to Russia. He points to a Tweet made by Trump confidant Roger Stone on August 21, 2016, in which Stone wrote that it would soon be “Podesta’s time in the barrel.” Due to this Tweet, Podesta says, “I think it’s a reasonable assumption, or at least a reasonable conclusion, that Mr. Stone had advanced warning and the Trump campaign had advanced warning about what Assange was going to do.” (The Washington Post, 10/11/2016)

The next day, the official WikiLeaks Twitter account posts the Tweet, “As we have already stated clearly: WikiLeaks has had no contact with Roger Stone.” (WikiLeaks, 10/12/2016)

One day after that, Stone claims that his Tweet was in reference to a separate story he was working on that would accuse Podesta of possible criminal wrongdoing. But he also says that he has had “back-channel communications” with WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange through a mutual friend. (CBS Miami, 10/12/2016)

October 12, 2016: Mike Pence doubles down on Trump’s promise to have a special prosecutor investigate Clinton if Trump wins the White House.

During the second presidential debate on October 9, 2016, at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump threatened to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton and put her in jail should he become president.

Mike Pence rallies in Raleigh, North Carolina on October 12, 2016. (Credit: Gerry Broom / The Associated Press)

Mike Pence rallies in Raleigh, North Carolina on October 12, 2016. (Credit: Gerry Broom / The Associated Press)

Four days later, at a Republican campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence doubles down on Trump’s promise, saying, “When we make Donald Trump the next president of the United States of America, we will once again uphold the principle that no one is above the law … We will appoint a special prosecutor who will get to the bottom of the Clinton Foundation and hold them accountable.”

Pence focuses on Clinton’s use of a private server while she was secretary of state, and voices a concern about the alleged improprieties that surround the Clinton Foundation.
Politico writes, “The crowd ate it up, with members of the audience shouting ‘traitor,’ ‘lock her up,’ and ‘treason’ during Pence’s remarks.”

Trump also doubles down on the same day, saying at a campaign rally in Florida, “She deleted the emails,” and “She has to go to jail.” (Politico, 10/12/2016)

October 17, 2016: Ecuador cuts the Internet access for the leader of WikiLeaks due to its impact on the US presidential election.

Julian Assange stands on a balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, on February 5, 2016.  (Credit: Getty Images)

On October 17, 2016, Julian Assange, the leader of WikiLeaks, announces that his Internet access has been cut off. Assange, an Australian citizen, was granted diplomatic asylum in 2012 by Ecuador. He has been living in the Ecuador embassy in London ever since, due to fears that he could be arrested by the US or Sweden.

In late July 2016, WikiLeaks published 20,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Since October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks has been publishing emails from Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta on a daily basis, with the US presidential election due to take place on November 8, 2016.

One day later, the government of Ecuador says it had temporarily restricted Assange’s Internet access, due to WikiLeaks releasing documents “impacting on the US election campaign. … The Government of Ecuador respects the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states. It does not interfere in external electoral processes, nor does it favor any particular candidate.” However, Ecuador reaffirms its commitment to giving Assange asylum.

Despite the restriction, WikiLeaks continues to publish new Podesta emails every day, and continues posting Tweets on the official WikiLeaks Twitter feed. WikiLeaks accuses Secretary of State John Kerry of pressuring Ecuador into taking action. However, both the US and Ecuador governments deny that. (Politico, 10/18/2016) (Guardian, 10/18/2016)

October 27, 2016: Comey is briefed and decides to announce the reopening of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, but Justice Department officials are strongly opposed.

Abedin and Weiner leave their home separately, the day before the sexting scandal broke in September, 2016. (Credit: The Daily Mail)

Abedin and Weiner leave their home separately, the day before the sexting scandal broke in September, 2016. (Credit: The Daily Mail)

In early October 2016, FBI agents discovered 650,000 emails on a computer owned by Anthony Weiner, the husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Though the agents were investigating Weiner for something unrelated, they eventually brief FBI agents who had worked on the recently closed FBI Clinton email investigation, and those agents say they would like to have the legal permission to look at the emails themselves.

Apparently, FBI Director James Comey first learns about the emails in mid-October 2016. Then he is given an updated briefing about it on this day. He decides he should immediately inform Congress about the development, even though the 2016 US presidential election is less than two weeks away. He does so in a letter sent one day later, which immediately becomes public.

However, Justice Department officials are opposed. According to the New York Times, “Senior Justice Department officials did not move to stop him from sending the letter, officials said, but they did everything short of it, pointing to policies against talking about current criminal investigations or being seen as meddling in elections.”

James Comey (Credit: Getty Images)

James Comey (Credit: Getty Images)

According to the Times, Comey decides to write his letter “before agents even began reading the newly discovered emails to determine whether they contained classified information or added new facts to the case.” This puzzles Justice Department officials. Apparently, some agents were only able to analyze the metadata.

It has long been Justice Department and FBI policy that politics should play no role in any investigative decisions. This is particularly emphasized for any actions taken within 60 days prior to an election. (The New York Times, 10/29/2016)

One unnamed “US official familiar with the matter” tells Yahoo News that senior officials “strongly discouraged” Comey from sending the letter, due to that department policy, adding, “He was acting independently of the guidance given to him.” One government source says that high-ranking Justice Department officials are “apoplectic” about the letter.

However, after listening to the Justice Department’s concerns, Comey concludes that the ramifications of not telling Congress promptly about the new emails far outweigh concerns about the department guidelines. He fears if he doesn’t immediately alert Congress, the FBI’s work will leak to the media and he will be accused of concealing information. If the news comes out before the election, he will be accused of trying to influence the election one way, but if it comes out after the election, he will be accused of trying to influence it the other way. One unnamed senior official says, “This was the least bad choice.”

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George J. Terwilliger III (Credit: McGuire Woods)

Many will criticize Comey for the letter, including some Republicans. For instance, George J. Terwilliger III, a deputy attorney general under President George Bush (R), says, “There’s a longstanding policy of not doing anything that could influence an election. Those guidelines exist for a reason. Sometimes, that makes for hard decisions. But bypassing them has consequences. There’s a difference between being independent and flying solo.” (The New York Times, 10/29/2016) (Yahoo News, 10/29/2016)

Politico reports that according to an unnamed “official familiar with the discussions,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch does not speak directly with Comey about the issue. However, her concerns are conveyed to him before he sends the letter. In late June 2016, Lynch pledged to recuse herself from the email investigation after she was seen having a private discussion with Bill Clinton. (Politico, 10/31/2016)

October 27, 2016: Putin scoffs at allegations of Russian involvement in the hacking of US presidential politics.

Vladimir Putin meets with members of the Valdai Discussion Club on October 27, 2016. (Credit: The Valdai Discussion Club)

Vladimir Putin meets with members of the Valdai Discussion Club on October 27, 2016. (Credit: The Valdai Discussion Club)

In a public speech at the Valdai Discussion Club, a Russian think tank outside of Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses allegations that the Russian government is behind the hacking of US political entities.

“Another mythical and imaginary problem is what I can only call the hysteria the USA has whipped up over supposed Russian meddling in the American presidential election. The United States has plenty of genuinely urgent problems, it would seem, from the colossal public debt to the increase in firearms violence and cases of arbitrary action by the police. You would think that the election debates would concentrate on these and other unresolved problems, but the elite has nothing with which to reassure society, it seems, and therefore attempt to distract public attention by pointing instead to supposed Russian hackers, spies, agents of influence and so forth.”

He adds, “I have to ask myself and ask you too: Does anyone seriously imagine that Russia can somehow influence the American people’s choice? America is not some kind of ‘banana republic’, after all, but is a great power.” (Valdaidclub.com, 10/27/2016)

October 28, 2016: Comey reveals the Clinton email investigation is at least partially reopened due to the discovery of Huma Abedin emails in an unrelated case, shocking the US presidential race just 11 days before the election.

FBI Director James Comey sends a letter to eight Congressional committees, informing them that emails relevant to the Clinton email investigation have surfaced in another unrelated case, causing at least a partial reopening of the investigation. This is a major political shock and an unprecedented action, since it comes just 11 days before the US presidential election.

Huma Abedin and husband Anthony Weiner (Credit: Elinor Carucci / Vanity Fair)

Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner (Credit: Elinor Carucci / Vanity Fair)

Huma Abedin, one of Clinton’s longtime close aides and her deputy chief of staff during her tenure as secretary of state, is married to Anthony Weiner, a former Democratic Congressperson. However, she is estranged from him and began divorce proceedings against him two months earlier, due to his repeated sex scandals. In his most recent scandal, it is alleged he sent illicit text messages to a 15-year-old girl. This led to an FBI investigation, and his computer and electronic devices were seized by the FBI on October 3, 2016. When his computer was examined, it was determined that it had been used by both Abedin and Weiner, and thousands of Abedin’s emails were found that could be relevant to the Clinton email investigation. That discovery in turn led to Comey being briefed on October 27, 2016, and then his surprise announcement one day later.

The New York Times reports calls Comey’s letter an “October surprise” that has “rocked” the 2016 presidential race. It has “left Mrs. Clinton’s team furious and scrambling for explanations while bolstering the spirits of Donald J. Trump after a wave of controversies and Republican defections had led many to write him off.”

Comey writes a very short letter that fails to mention many details. It states, in full: “In previous Congressional testimony, I referred to the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had completed its investigation of former Secretary Clinton’s personal email server. Due to recent developments, I am writing to supplement my previous testimony.”

James Comey (Credit: public domain)

James Comey (Credit: public domain)

“In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigation team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to access their importance to our investigation.

“Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016) (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

Later the same day, Comey also sends a short letter to all FBI officials, explaining his decision to send the letter. It is immediately leaked to the public. In it, he says, “Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record. At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression.  In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.” (The Washington Post, 10/28/2016)

The New York Times further reveals that Comey was only briefed about the emails the day before, and they have not yet been closely examined. “A senior law enforcement official said that tens of thousands of emails belonging to Ms. Abedin were on Mr. Weiner’s laptop…” However, “Senior law enforcement officials said that it was unclear if any of the emails were from Mrs. Clinton’s private server.” It is also unknown how many could be duplicates of previously known emails. (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

The Washington Post reports, “The correspondence included emails between Abedin and Clinton, according to a law enforcement official.” (The Washington Post, 10/28/2016)

Clinton and other Democrats are highly critical of Comey’s letter while Trump and other Republicans praise it.

October 28, 2016: Trump praises Comey’s letter and says “this changes everything.”

Trump speaks at a rally on October 28, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Credit: Darren McCollister / Getty Images)

Trump speaks at a rally on October 28, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Credit: Darren McCollister / Getty Images)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the Clinton email investigation has been at least partially reopened due to the discovery of more emails in the possession of her aide Huma Abedin.

At a campaign rally, Trump says, “Perhaps, finally, justice will be done. … Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before. We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office.” For weeks, he had been highly critical of the FBI, but now he says, “I have great respect for the fact that the FBI and the [Justice Department] are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made. This was a grave miscarriage of justice that the American people fully understand. It is everybody’s hope that it is about to be corrected.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

He adds in a brief New York Times interview, “I think it’s the biggest story since Watergate. I think this changes everything.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

October 28, 2016: Democrats criticize Comey’s announcement regarding the FBI’s discovery of new information relevant to the Clinton email investigation.

Diane Feinstein (Credit: Arno Burgi / Zuma)

Senator Diane Feinstein (Credit: Arno Burgi / Zuma)

Prominent Democratic politicians react to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the Clinton email investigation has been at least partially reopened due to the discovery of more emails in the possession of her aide Huma Abedin.

Clinton campaign chair John Podesta says, “Director Comey’s letter refers to emails that have come to light in an unrelated case, but we have no idea what those emails are and the director himself notes they may not even be significant. … It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election.”

Donna Brazile, interim chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), says, “The FBI has a solemn obligation to remain neutral in political matters — even the faintest appearance of using the agency’s power to influence our election is deeply troubling.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), says, “This is particularly troubling since so many questions are unanswered. … It’s unclear whether these emails have already been reviewed or if Secretary Clinton sent or received them. In fact, we don’t even know if the FBI has these emails in its possession.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

October 29, 2016: Clinton’s campaign intensifies its criticism of Comey’s decision to announce the reopening of the Clinton email investigation.

On October 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress revealing that the Clinton email investigation was being at least partially reopened, due to newly discovered emails. This was immediately leaked to the general public.

One day later, Clinton comments, “It’s pretty strange to put something like that out with such little information right before an election. In fact, it’s not just strange. It’s unprecedented. And it is deeply troubling.”

Robby Mook (left) and John Podesta at Clinton campaign Brooklyn, NY office. (Credit: Brooks Kraft / Politico.)

Robby Mook (left) and John Podesta at Clinton campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. (Credit: Brooks Kraft / Politico.)

Her campaign chair John Podesta says, “Twenty-four hours after that letter was sent, we have no explanation why. No-one can separate what is true or is not because Comey has not been forthcoming with the facts.” He suggests that “by providing selective information, [Comey] has allowed partisans to distort and exaggerate to inflict maximum political damage.” He declines to say whether Comey should be retained as FBI director if Clinton wins.

Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook says that Comey “owes the public the full story or else he shouldn’t have cracked open this door in the first place.”

By contrast, Republican National Committee (RNC) spokesperson Michael Short says, “The Clinton campaign was happy to praise Director Comey when it was politically convenient, but now that the FBI has found thousands of new emails pertinent to their investigation, they’re attacking him and mischaracterizing his letter to Congress.” (Bloomberg News, 10/29/2016)

October 29, 2016—November 1, 2016: It is said there is “no chance” the FBI will be able to finish reviewing newly discovered emails before the US presidential election.

Anthony Weiner, texting in a park. (Credit: Daily Mail)

Anthony Weiner, texting in a park. (Credit: Daily Mail)

One day after FBI Director James Comey told Congress that he is at least partially reopening the FBI’s Clinton email investigation after more emails belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin were found, the New York Times reports that “Law enforcement officials have begun the process to get court authority to read the emails.” This is according to unnamed US government officials. FBI agents involved in the illicit texting case of Abedin’s husband Anthony Weiner found the emails and can read them, but the agents involved in renewed Clinton email investigation still cannot.

Some reports indicate there are tens of thousands of emails to be reviewed. As a result, “How soon they will get that [legal permission] is unclear, but there is no chance that the review will be completed before Election Day, several [unnamed] law enforcement officials said.” The 2016 US presidential election is only ten days away. (The New York Times, 10/29/2016)

One day later, USA Today reports, “Though the volume of emails is substantial… authorities have not completely ruled out the possibility of completing the review by Election Day.” (USA Today, 10/30/2016)

But one day after that, Politico reports, “[I]t seems impossible that a full analysis will be completed by Election Day… because if potentially classified messages that haven’t been found before are located, they will have to be farmed out to various intelligence agencies for classification review. That interagency process often takes months.” (Politico, 10/31/2016)

October 29, 2016: Former Democrat and Republican number two Justice Department officials criticize Comey’s announcement.

Jamie Gorelick (left) Larry Thompson (right) (Credit: public domain)

Jamie Gorelick (left) Larry Thompson (right) (Credit: public domain)

Jamie Gorelick was deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton and is supporting Hillary Clinton for president. Larry Thompson held the same position under President George W. Bush and is has criticized Republican nominee Donald Trump. Deputy attorney general is the second highest position in the Justice Department. Together, they write an editorial in the Washington Post with the title: “James Comey is damaging our democracy.”

They are upset at FBI Director Comey for violating the Justice Department tradition not to make any moves that could have a political effect in the 60 day period before an election, with his October 28, 2016 announcement. (The FBI is part of the department.)

Their editorial concludes, “As it stands, we now have real-time, raw-take transparency taken to its illogical limit, a kind of reality TV of federal criminal investigation. Perhaps worst of all, it is happening on the eve of a presidential election. It is antithetical to the interests of justice, putting a thumb on the scale of this election and damaging our democracy.” (The Washington Post, 10/29/2016)

October 30, 2016: WikiLeaks promises a new phase of releases related to the US presidential election.

A tweet by Wikileaks introducing Phase 3. (Credit: Wikileaks / Twitter)

A tweet by Wikileaks introducing Phase 3. (Credit: Wikileaks / Twitter)

Wikileaks announces on Twitter that “We commence phase 3 of our US election coverage next week.” This comes only nine days before the US presidential election.

There are no further details or clues regarding what “phase 3” will be. Presumably, the first phase was the posting of 20,00 Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails in July 2016, and the second phase was the posting of thousands of emails from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta starting in early October 2016, which is still continuing. (The Hill, 10/30/2016)

October 30, 2016: Former Attorney General Mukasey claims Comey is in a no-win situation due to his earlier failure to pursue a vigorous Clinton email investigation.

Michael Mukasey (Credit: The Associated Press)

Michael Mukasey (Credit: The Associated Press)

Michael Mukasey, the US attorney general from 2007 to 2009, writes an editorial in the Wall Street Journal with the title: “The FBI Director’s Dishonorable Choice.”

He suggests that FBI Director James Comey’s recent highly controversial reopening of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation shortly before the 2016 US presidential election is due to earlier mistakes Comey made in the investigation.

“Recall that Mr. Comey’s authority extends only to supervising the gathering of facts to be presented to Justice Department lawyers for their confidential determination of whether those facts justify a federal prosecution. Nonetheless, in July [2016] he announced that ‘no reasonable prosecutor’ would seek to charge her with a crime, although Mrs. Clinton had classified information on a private non-secure server—at least a misdemeanor under one statute; and although she was ‘extremely careless’ in her handling of classified information such that it was exposed to hacking by hostile foreign nations—a felony under another statute; and apparently had caused the destruction of emails—a felony under two other statutes.”

He continues, “Those decisions were not his to make, nor were the reasons he offered for making them at all tenable: that prosecutions for anything but mishandling large amounts of classified information, accompanied by false statements to investigators, were unprecedented; and that criminal prosecutions for gross negligence were constitutionally suspect.”

He also points to immunity deals made with key suspects that even included destroying their computers after limited searches, and a failure to get to the bottom of computer technician Paul Combetta’s destruction of Clinton’s emails in March 2015, supposedly done entirely on his own for no clear motive. “Why would an FBI director, who at one time was an able and aggressive prosecutor, agree to such terms or accept such a fantastic story?”

He also claims that emails between President Obama and Clinton on her private server suggested that “if Mrs. Clinton was at criminal risk for communicating on her non-secure system, so was [Obama].” The FBI needs the cooperation of a grand jury, and only the legal authority of a grand jury would give the FBI subpoena power to conduct a real investigation. If Attorney General Loretta Lynch refused to allow a grand jury, Comey “could have gone public with his request, and threatened to resign if it was not followed. … Instead, Mr. Comey acceded to the apparent wish of President Obama that no charges be brought.”

That lack of courage put Comey in his no-win situation when more evidence happened to come to light shortly before Election Day. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)

October 31, 2016: Huma Abedin has no idea how her emails got on her husband’s computer, according to her lawyer.

On October 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey announced in a letter that the FBI’s Clinton email investigation is being at least partially reopened. Media reports quickly indicate this is due to 650,000 emails found on a computer, with some of them belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

A blurry photo taken of Huma Abedin inside her New York City home on October 29, 2016. (Credit: Jae Donnelly / The Daily Caller)

Since Comey’s letter was made public, Abedin has kept out of sight and hasn’t made any public comments. But on this day, Karen Dunn, a lawyer for Abedin, releases a statement. She claims that while some media reports claim the  computer was shared by Abedin and her husband Anthony Weiner (who has recently separated from her), it belonged solely to Weiner.

Additionally, Dunn says that Abedin “only learned for the first time on [October 28, 2016], from press reports, of the possibility that a laptop belonging to Mr. Weiner could contain emails of hers. While the FBI has not contacted us about this, Ms. Abedin will continue to be, as she always has been, forthcoming and cooperative.” She adds that Abedin has always been fully cooperative about any government inquiry into her emails.

Politico reports that Abedin has privately told colleagues she was taken aback to hear that the FBI found the emails. Furthermore, an unnamed “source close to the investigation” asserts that “no one asked” Abedin for consent to look at the emails, and the FBI has gotten a warrant from a judge instead. (Politico, 10/31/2016)

Clinton campaign manager John Podesta says of Abedin, “of course [the Clinton campaign] stands behind her.” He also says that “As far as we know everything that we had” belonging to Clinton and her top aides was turned over and reviewed by the time Comey announced he would not recommend any indictments in July 2016.
(Bloomberg News, 10/29/2016)

October 31, 2016: The New York Times’ editorial board heavily criticizes “James Comey’s Big Mistake.”

That is the title of the op-ed published four days after FBI Director Comey announced the at least partial reopening of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. The editorial states, “Now, thanks to Mr. Comey’s breathtakingly rash and irresponsible decision, the Justice Department and FBI are scrambling to process hundreds of thousands of emails to determine whether there is anything relevant in them before [the US presidential election on November 8, 2016] — all as the country stands by in suspense. This is not how federal investigations are conducted. In claiming to stand outside politics, Mr. Comey has instead created the hottest political football of the 2016 election.

“And he clearly failed to consider the impact of the innuendo he unleashed just days before the election, seemingly more concerned with protecting himself from recrimination by critics in Congress and the FBI. … The Clinton campaign and its supporters are apoplectic. But top federal law enforcement officials from both Democratic and Republican administrations have been just as swift and fierce in their condemnation of Mr. Comey.

“In an election that has featured the obliteration of one long-accepted political or social norm after another, it is sadly fitting that one of the final and perhaps most consequential acts was to undermine the American people’s trust in the nation’s top law enforcement agencies.” (The New York Times, 10/31/2016)

October 31, 2016: The White House stays out of the controversy about Comey’s decision to reopen the Clinton email investigation.

Josh Earnest (Credit: The Associated Press)

Josh Earnest (Credit: The Associated Press)

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest says the Obama Administration “will neither defend nor criticize what [FBI] Director [James] Comey has decided to communicate to the public about this investigation.” He is referring to Comey’s October 28, 2016 letter informing Congress that the FBI is at least partially reopening its Clinton email investigation, just 11 days before the 2016 US presidential election. Earnest says the White House has no recommendations for Comey over what information to give to the public.

Additionally, President Obama “doesn’t believe that Director Comey is intentionally trying to influence the outcome of an election. The president doesn’t believe that he’s secretly strategizing to benefit one candidate or one political party. He’s in a tough spot.” (CBS News, 11/1/2016)

Earnest says the White House has no independent knowledge as to why Comey made the decision to inform Congress as he did. He adds that Obama believes Comey is a “man of integrity.”

Yet Earnest also says that government officials have powers which “are tempered by longstanding practice and norms that limit public discussion of facts that are collected in the context of those investigations. … The president believes that it’s important for those guidelines and norms to be followed.” (Reuters, 10/31/2016) (The New York Times, 10/31/2016)

November 2, 2016: It is revealed that the FBI and Justice Department agreed not to have grand jury subpoenas for the Clinton email investigation, arguing that would lead to a faster conclusion.

CNN reports, “During the Clinton email server investigation, investigators and prosecutors debated whether to issue subpoenas to Clinton’s aides, officials say. Leaders at the FBI and at the Justice Department thought it would be faster to come to voluntary agreements with aides. Subpoenas could cause delays, particularly if litigation is necessary, officials said. And the FBI and Justice Department wanted to try to complete the probe and get out of the way of the 2016 election.”

Presumably this meant it was agreed not to get Justice Department approval to empanel a grand jury, because an FBI investigation cannot issue subpoenas without the legal authority of a grand jury.  (CNN, 11/2/2016)

Two days earlier, Senator Charles Grassley (R) sent FBI Director James Comey a letter asking for an official answer regarding this issue. Comey hinted in September 2016 that he didn’t seek a grand jury in the interest of quickly concluding the investigation.

November 3, 2016: It is alleged leakers inside the FBI are upset at Clinton, James Comey, and/or the Justice Department.

Photo captured from NBC News report about FBI Director James Comey re-opening the Clinton email investigation. (Credit: NBC Nightly News)

Photo captured from NBC News report about FBI Director James Comey reopening the Clinton email investigation on October 28, 2016. (Credit: NBC Nightly News)

The Guardian reports that “Deep antipathy to Hillary Clinton exists within the FBI,” according to multiple FBI sources, “spurring a rapid series of leaks damaging to her campaign just days before the election.” Both current and former anonymous FBI officials “have described a chaotic internal climate that resulted from outrage over [FBI Director] James Comey’s July [2016] decision” not to recommend indictment.

One current agent says, “The FBI is Trumpland,” referring to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Clinton is “the antichrist personified to a large swath of FBI personnel,” and “the reason why they’re leaking is they’re pro-Trump.”

However, “other sources dispute the depth of support for Trump within the [FBI], though they uniformly stated that Clinton is viewed highly unfavorably.”

A former FBI official says, “There are lots of people who don’t think Trump is qualified, but also believe Clinton is corrupt. What you hear a lot is that it’s a bad choice, between an incompetent and a corrupt politician. … Many FBI agents were upset at the director, not because he didn’t [recommend to] indict, but they believe he threw the FBI under the bus by taking the heat away from [the Justice Department].”

While FBI agents are upset at Comey and his handling of the investigation, agents are also upset with what is seen as obstructionism from the Justice Department. The Guardian comments, “Some feel Comey needs to address the criticism and provide reassurance that the [FBI], with its wide-ranging investigative and surveillance powers, will comport itself in an apolitical manner.” But since October 28, 2016, when Comey announced the reopening of the investigation, he has stayed silent. (The Guardian, 11/3/2016)

November 3, 2016: The FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation is still facing an impasse between FBI investigators and top officials.

Since October 30, 2016, there have been a number of news reports that the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation exists, but also that it has been hobbled by disagreements between FBI agents, who believe the evidence against the foundation is strong, and high-ranking FBI officials and Justice Department officials who believe the evidence is weak. Major decisions have been postponed until after the November 8, 2016 US presidential election.

ABC News reports that “Investigators and higher-ups have continued to discuss the matter, but there has been no change in posture, sources said. Authorities still believe there is no evidence of wrongdoing, and they do not believe there is a sufficient reason to pursue charges…” (ABC News, 11/3/2016)

November 4, 2016: A majority of voters think Clinton acted illegally.

A photo capture from the poll indicates Clinton’s unfavorable ratings are unchanged from September to November, 2016. (Credit: McClatchy-Marist Poll)

Four days before the 2016 US presidential election, a majority of voters believe Clinton has done something illegal with her email controversy and/or Clinton Foundation, according to a McClatchy-Marist Poll. Eighty-three percent of likely voters believe she did something wrong, with 51 percent saying she did something illegal and 32 percent saying she something unethical but not illegal. Only 14 percent say she’s done nothing wrong.

Her main opponent, Republican nominee Donald Trump, has also been beset by scandals and controversies. Seventy-nine percent think Trump did something wrong. Just 26 percent think he’s done something illegal, while 53 percent think he’s done something unethical but not illegal. Only 17 percent think he’s done nothing wrong.

McClatchy Newpapers comments, “The deep suspicion of Clinton is likely a top reason she’s lost much of her lead and the race for the White House has tightened in the race’s closing days.” According to the poll, Clinton is only ahead by one point, 44 percent to 43 percent.

Both candidates are widely disliked. Clinton has an unfavorable rating of 57 percent and Trump has an unfavorable-favorable rating of 61 percent. Both numbers are unprecedented in the history of presidential polling this close to Election Day. (McClatchy Newspapers, 11/4/2016)

November 4, 2016: Many political insiders, especially Republicans, say Comey’s letter changed the trajectory of the 2016 presidential race.

Politico asks “a panel of activists, strategists and operatives in 11 swing states” their opinions on the evolving 2016 presidential election campaign. In their latest query, nearly two-thirds of Republicans say that FBI Director James Comey’s October 28, 2016 letter announcing the reopening of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation “fundamentally altered the trajectory of the race.”

One unnamed Republican insider states, “There are a handful of words that can fundamentally alter the trajectory of a race. These include words and phrases like ‘indictment,’ ‘FBI investigation’ and ‘grand jury.’ These are popping with just barely enough time to make a difference in the race, even enough time for ad-makers to change out closing commercials.”

Another unnamed Republican insider says, “That is not how to end a campaign. [Clinton] wins when Trump is the issue. She loses when she is the issue.”

However, only 20 percent of Democratic insiders say the Comey letter changed the trajectory of the race.

One unnamed Democratic insider says, “It changed the race by bringing the map back to normal [meaning a non-landslide win for Clinton]. Pre-FBI, she was going to reach for 400 [electoral votes].” (Politico, 11/4/2016)