October 4, 2016: WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange promises to release “significant material” over the next ten weeks, with the US presidential election four weeks away.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange participates via video link at a news conference marking the 10th anniversary

Julian Assange speaks via video link at a news conference marking the 10th anniversary of Wikileaks, on October 4, 2016. (Credit: Wikileaks)

Speaking via a video link to mark a decade since the founding of WikiLeaks, Assange says, “We hope to be publishing every week for the next ten weeks. We have on schedule, and it’s a very hard schedule, all the US election-related documents to come out before [the US presidential election on] November 8. … Our upcoming series includes significant material on war, arms, oil, Google, the US elections, and myself.”

He also dismisses speculation that releases related to US election would contain information intended to damage the presidential candidacy of Clinton. The idea that “we intend to harm Hillary Clinton, or I intend to harm Hillary Clinton, or I don’t like Hillary Clinton, all those are false.”

Assange’s comments are seen as a disappointment by many of WikiLeaks supporters who are hoping for the immediate release of more politically important material. (The New York Times, 10/4/2016) However, just three days later, WikiLeaks begins releasing emails belonging to John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign manager.

October 6, 2016: FBI insiders are highly critical of Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.

A New York Post article claims that “[v]eteran FBI agents say FBI Director James Comey has permanently damaged the bureau’s reputation for uncompromising investigations with his ‘cowardly’ whitewash of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information using an unauthorized private email server.”

Dennis Hughes, a retired head of the FBI’s computer investigations unit, is critical that the FBI agreed to certain ground rules in some key interviews. For instance, certain topics were deemed off limits when Cheryl Mills was interviewed. Hughes says, “In my 25 years with the bureau, I never had any ground rules in my interviews.” He also comments about the investigation in general, “The FBI has politicized itself, and its reputation will suffer for a long time. I hold Director Comey responsible.”

Retired FBI agent Michael Biasello says, “Comey has single-handedly ruined the reputation of the organization.” He also says the special treatment given Clinton and her aides was “unprecedented, which is another way of saying this outcome was by design.” He calls Comey’s decision not to recommend any indictment “cowardly.”

Biasello further comments, “Each month for 27 years, I received oral and computer admonishments concerning the proper protocol for handling top secret and other classified material, and was informed of the harsh penalties, to include prosecution and incarceration,” for mishandling such material. “Had myself or my colleagues engaged in behavior of the magnitude of Hillary Clinton, as described by Comey, we would be serving time in Leavenworth.”

I.C. Smith (Credit: public domain)

I.C. Smith (Credit: public domain)

I. C. Smith worked at FBI headquarters as a section head in the National Security Division, then was head of the FBI office in Little Rock, Arkansas. He says, “FBI agents upset with Comey’s decision have every reason to feel that way. Clearly, there was a different standard applied to Clinton.”

He adds, “I have no doubt resourceful prosecutors and FBI agents could have come up with some charge that she would have been subject to prosecution. What she did is absolutely abhorrent for anyone who has access to classified information.” He suggests that Congress should subpoena agents to testify about the directions given by Comey and their supervisors. “It would be interesting to see what the results would be if those involved with the investigation were questioned under oath.”

The 25 or so agents who worked on the case cannot make any public comments, even anonymously, because they were forced to sign nondisclosure agreements and take lie detector tests. But other active agents are critical. For instance, an unnamed FBI agent still working in the Washington field office says, “The director is giving the bureau a bad rap with all the gaps in the investigation. There’s a perception that the FBI has been politicized and let down the country.” (The New York Post, 10/6/2016)

October 9, 2016: Trump claims that Clinton unfairly beat Bernie Sanders in the primaries and calls Clinton “the devil.”

During in the second general election presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri, Clinton claims that her opponent Donald Trump never apologizes for anything, and then lists several issues he should apologize for, but never has.

Clinton and Trump spar at the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016. (Credit: ABC News)

Clinton and Trump spar at the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016. (Credit: ABC News)

As part of his response, Trump claims that Clinton fairly lost the primary to Obama in 2008. However, he says this is “unlike the Bernie Sanders race where you won, but not fair and square, in my opinion. And all you have to do is take a look at WikiLeaks and just see what they said about Bernie Sanders and see what [Democratic National Committee chair] Debbie Wasserman Schultz had in mind, because Bernie Sanders, between superdelegates and Debra Wasserman Schultz, he never had a chance and I was so surprised to see him sign on with the devil.” (Politico, 10/10/2016)

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 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 12, 2016: An unnamed high-ranking FBI official claims that the “vast majority” of agents working on the FBI’s Clinton email investigation believe Clinton should have been indicted.

The “high-ranking FBI official” speaks to Fox News on the condition of anonymity, but the person’s “identity and role in the case has been verified by FoxNews.com.” According to this source, “No trial level attorney agreed, no agent working the case agreed, with the decision not to prosecute” anyone in the investigation at all, but “it was a top-down decision” by FBI Director James Comey.

The source says that when it came to Clinton specifically, “It is safe to say the vast majority felt she should be prosecuted. We were floored while listening to the FBI briefing [on July 5, 2016] because Comey laid it all out, and then said ‘but we are doing nothing,’ which made no sense to us.” And while it might not have been a totally unanimous decision to recommend Clinton’s indictment, “It was unanimous that we all wanted her [Clinton’s] security clearance yanked.” However, even that never happened, despite it being standard procedure in similar cases.

The source adds that FBI agents were particularly upset that Comey unilaterally made the decision not to indict when the FBI’s role is merely to present an investigative report to the Justice Department. “Basically, James Comey hijacked the [Justice Department]’s role by saying ‘no reasonable prosecutor would bring this case.’ The FBI does not decide who to prosecute and when, that is the sole province of a prosecutor. … I know zero prosecutors in the [Justice Department]’s National Security Division who would not have taken the case to a grand jury. One was never even convened.” Without a grand jury, FBI agents were not allowed to issue subpoenas or search warrants and could only request evidence and interviews.

The source also complains that the FBI required its agents and analysts involved in the investigation to sign non-disclosure agreements. “This is unheard of, because of the stifling nature it has on the investigative process.”

Furthermore, immunity deals were made with five key figures in the investigation: Cheryl Mills, Bryan Pagliano, Paul Combetta, John Bentel, and Heather Samuelson. The source says none of them should have been granted immunity if no charges were being brought. “[Immunity] is issued because you know someone possesses evidence you need to charge the target, and you almost always know what it is they possess. That’s why you give immunity. … Mills and Samuelson receiving immunity with the agreement their laptops would be destroyed by the FBI afterwards is, in itself, illegal. We know those laptops contained classified information. That’s also illegal, and they got a pass.”

Additionally, “Mills was allowed to sit in on the interview of Clinton as her lawyer. That’s absurd. Someone who is supposedly cooperating against the target of an investigation [being] permitted to sit by the target as counsel violates any semblance of ethical responsibility.”

The source also comments, “Every agent and attorney I have spoken to is embarrassed and has lost total respect for James Comey and [Attorney General] Loretta Lynch. The bar for [the Justice Department] is whether the evidence supports a case for charges — it did here. It should have been taken to the grand jury.”

Finally, the source claims that many in the FBI and the Justice Department believe Comey and Lynch were motivated by ambition instead of justice. “Loretta Lynch simply wants to stay on as attorney general under Clinton, so there is no way she would indict. James Comey thought his position [heavily criticizing Clinton even as he decides against indicting her] gave himself cover to remain on as director regardless of who wins.”

Andrew Napolitano (Credit: Fox News)

Andrew Napolitano (Credit: Fox News)

Andrew Napolitano, a former judge and judicial analyst for Fox News, also claims to know of many law enforcement agents involved with the Clinton email investigation who have similar beliefs. He says, “It is well known that the FBI agents on the ground, the human beings who did the investigative work, had built an extremely strong case against Hillary Clinton and were furious when the case did not move forward. They believe the decision not to prosecute came from the White House.” (Fox News, 10/12/2016)

The next day, Malia Zimmerman, a co-writer of the article, is questioned on Fox News television. She claims that she has been speaking to other disgruntled FBI agents as well. “They’re saying that the morale is very low and that a lot of them are looking for other jobs. They’re very disappointed. They feel like the agency has been polluted… and they’re embarrassed. They feel like they’ve been betrayed.”

She adds that some of her sources might be willing to speak on the record if they retire or change jobs, which some of them are in the process of doing. But they are currently worried about retaliation. “There are a lot of disgruntled agents, analysts, and [Justice Department] attorneys as well.” These people feel Clinton could have been charged for various reasons, but her 22 “top secret” emails made the most compelling case. (Fox News, 10/13/2016)

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: Republicans applaud Comey’s announcement regarding the FBI’s discovery of new information relevant to the Clinton email investigation.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (Credit: Molly Riley / The Associated Press)

House Speaker Paul Ryan (Credit: Molly Riley / The Associated Press)

Prominent Republican 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.

Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Reince Priebus says, “The FBI’s decision to reopen their criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s secret email server just 11 days before the election shows how serious this discovery must be. … This stunning development raises serious questions about what records may not have been turned over and why, and whether they show intent to violate the law.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R) says, “Hillary Clinton has nobody but herself to blame. She was entrusted with some of our nation’s most important secrets, and she betrayed that trust by carelessly mishandling highly classified information.” He argues that she should no longer be allowed to receive classified briefings. (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

October 28, 2016: Clinton encourages Comey to release all the information the FBI has that led him to reopen the Clinton email investigation.

Clinton holds an unscheduled news conference to talk about FBI inquiries on October 28, 2016. (Credit: Andrew Harnik / The Associated Press)

Clinton holds an unscheduled press conference to talk about FBI inquiries on October 28, 2016. (Credit: Andrew Harnik / The Associated Press)

Clinton 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. Clinton says, “We are calling on the FBI to release all the information that it has. Let’s get it out.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016) She adds, “We don’t know the facts, which is why we are calling on the FBI to release all the information that it has.” (Politico, 10/29/2016)

She also says, “We are 11 days out from perhaps the most important national election of our lifetimes. Voting is already underway in our country. So the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately. We’ve heard these rumors. We don’t know what to believe. That is why it is incumbent on the FBI to tell us what they are talking about. Because right now your guess is as good mine, and I don’t think that is good enough.” (Politico, 10/28/2016)

The call for more information is bipartisan. For instance, Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence also urges the FBI to “immediately release all the emails pertinent to their investigation.” (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: 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: A former assistant FBI director criticizes the Clintons, the Clinton Foundation, and the FBI’s Clinton email investigation.

James Kallstrom (Credit: Fox News)

James Kallstrom (Credit: Fox News)

Former Assistant FBI Director James Kallstrom says in an interview, “The Clintons, that’s a crime family, basically. It’s like organized crime. I mean, the Clinton Foundation is a cesspool.”

He also criticizes the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. “The problem here is this investigation was never a real investigation. That’s the problem. They never had a grand jury empaneled, and the reason they never had a grand jury empaneled, I’m sure, is [Attorney General] Loretta Lynch would not go along with that. … The agents are furious with what’s going on, I know that for a fact.”

He also says that he is supporting Republican nominee Donald Trump for president, and calls Clinton a “pathological liar.”

Kallstrom is best known for leading the investigation into the explosion of TWA Flight 800 in the late 1990s. (The Hill, 10/30/2016)

Since July 2016, he has occasionally appeared on Fox News and claimed to be in contact with an increasing number of FBI agents upset with the FBI’s Clinton email investigation.

October 30, 2016: 650,000 emails have allegedly been recently discovered by the FBI, many belonging to Huma Abedin, though many could be duplicates or unrelated.

Abedin and Weiner at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala in May, 2016. (Credit: Reuters)

On October 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey announced at least a partial reopening of the Clinton email investigation due to newly discovered evidence, but initial media accounts conflicted over what exactly was found. On this day, the Wall Street Journal reports: “Investigators found 650,000 emails on a laptop that they believe was used by former [Representative] Anthony Weiner and his estranged wife Huma Abedin, a close Clinton aide, and underlying metadata suggests thousands of those messages could have been sent to or from the private server that Mrs. Clinton used while she was secretary of state, according to people familiar with the matter.”

The Journal claims that although the FBI has received a search warrant since Comey’s announcement so the agents involved with the FBI’s Clinton email investigation can look at the newly discovered emails, “It will take weeks, at a minimum, to determine whether those messages are work-related from the time Ms. Abedin served with Mrs. Clinton at the State Department; how many are duplicates of emails already reviewed by the FBI; and whether they include either classified information or important new evidence in the Clinton email probe.”

The emails “stretched back years,” and were found a computer laptop previously unknown by the Clinton email investigation. “Many of the 650,000 emails” are from Abedin’s email accounts, according to anonymous sources. Metadata shows that “many messages, apparently in the thousands,” were either sent to or from Clinton’s private email server. (Both Abedin and Clinton had email accounts hosted on the server.)

The Journal also depicts a long-standing dispute between the FBI, wanting to aggressively pursue leads, and the Justice Department, which often fails to give the FBI the legal approval to do so. (The Wall Street Journal, 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: The FBI begins analyzing Huma Abedin’s newly discovered emails.

Abedin crying after learning the FBI has re-opened the Clinton email investigation. (Credit: public domain)

Abedin’s reaction is captured after learning the FBI has re-opened the Clinton email investigation. (Credit: public domain)

On October 30, 2016, the FBI obtained a search warrant, allowing its agents who had taken part in the FBI’s Clinton email investigation to have access to hundreds of thousands of emails belonging to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. According to the New York Times, by the next day, the FBI begins using a special computer program that can help FBI analysts determine whether the emails contain classified information.

Clinton turned over about 30,000 of her emails to the State Department in December 2014, and deleted about another 31,000. The FBI recovered about 17,000 of those deleted emails during its investigation, which concluded in July 2016. The program should allow analysts to learn relatively quickly how many emails are previously known copies. Abedin also had an email account on Clinton’s server, and there are thousands of her emails not sent to or from Clinton, but their exact number is unknown.

Abedin is seen arriving at Clinton's campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, NY, two days after the FBI reopened the Clinton email case. (Credit: Jae Donnelly / The Daily Mail)

Abedin is seen arriving at Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, NY, two days after the FBI reopened the Clinton email case. (Credit: Jae Donnelly / The Daily Mail)

One unnamed “senior law enforcement official” says, “This is not a manpower issue. It’s an issue of getting the emails into a program that can allow agents to look at them.”

The FBI is under intense pressure to complete its review before the US presidential election on November 8, 2016, just over one week away. However, if previously unknown emails are discovered, it could take weeks or months for various government departments to confer and agree upon their classification status.

If more classified emails are found, that likely will not cause new legal difficulties for Clinton or Abedin, because many such emails already were found, but FBI Director James Comey said that he wouldn’t recommend any indictments without evidence of criminal intent.

The Times comments that “What could cause problems for Ms. Abedin — and by extension Mrs. Clinton — is if the FBI finds evidence that anyone tried to conceal these new emails from investigators. Ms. Abedin has said she turned over all her emails to the FBI months ago and does not know how emails ended up” on the computer owned by her estranged husband Anthony Weiner.
(The New York Times, 10/31/2016)

October 31, 2016: A senator wants to know if the FBI ever asked for subpoena power in the Clinton email investigation, and if not, why not.

Senator Charles Grassley (Credit: Brendan Smialowski / Agence France Press / Getty Images)

Senator Charles Grassley (Credit: Brendan Smialowski / Agence France Press / Getty Images)

Following the October 28, 2016 revelation that FBI Director James Comey has at least partially reopened the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, Senator Charles Grassley (R), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sends him a letter with a series of questions.

He points that in May 2016, “I wrote to you expressing concern about the appearance that political appointees at the Justice Department might be withholding approval for the FBI to seek search warrants and grand jury subpoenas. These standard investigative tools are usually approved in criminal investigations of this scope and importance. However, it remains unclear to this day whether the FBI requested the use of a grand jury in the Clinton email investigation to compel documents and testimony, and if so, whether the [Justice Department] denied that request. These concerns are only magnified by these latest developments [regarding the reopening of the investigation].”

He adds, “If the FBI is denied the ability to gather evidence through compulsory means, Secretary Clinton and her aides have enormous leverage to negotiate extraordinary concessions in exchange for voluntary cooperation. It is critical for the public to know whether the FBI has requested from the Justice Department vital investigative tools such as grand jury subpoenas and search warrants and whether it has been denied access to them.” (Politico, 11/1/2016) (US Congress, 10/31/2016)

Two days later, it will be reported that the FBI never asked the Justice Department for the grand jury legal backing needed for subpoena power, but this has not been officially confirmed.

On September 28, 2016, Comey hinted that he preferred making immunity deals with key witnesses over using subpoena power in order to bring the investigation to a faster conclusion.

 

November 1, 2016: Obama indirectly criticizes Comey, saying “we don’t operate on innuendo.”

President Obama and new FBI Director James Comey during his installation ceremony in Washington, DC, on October 28, 2013. (Credit: Saul Loeb / Getty Images)

President Obama publicly comments for the first time about FBI Director James Comey’s letter on October 28, 2016 that effectively announced the reopening of the Clinton email investigation just 11 days prior to the 2016 US presidential election.

Obama doesn’t directly mention Comey. But he says, “I do think that there is a norm that when there are investigations, we don’t operate on innuendo and we don’t operate on incomplete information and we don’t operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made.”

Obama says, “I’ve made a very deliberate effort to make sure that I don’t look like I am meddling in what are supposed to be independent processes for making these assessments.”

But then he makes comments that clearly are supportive of Clinton, by  downplaying the implications of reopening the investigation. “Obviously, it’s become a political controversy. The fact of the matter is that Hillary Clinton, having been in the arena for 30 years, oftentimes gets knocked around and people say crazy stuff about her and when she makes a mistake, an honest mistake, it ends up getting blown up as if it’s some crazy thing. I trust her. I know her.”

Obama also notes, “When this was investigated thoroughly last time, the conclusion of the FBI, the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was she had made some mistakes but that there wasn’t anything there that was prosecutable.” (CNN, 11/2/2016) (CNN, 11/2/2016)

Contrary to Obama’s claims that he has made an effort not to meddle, in October 2015 he made comments supporting Clinton in her email controversy that were criticized. Then he did so again in April 2016.

November 3, 2016: Previously unknown Huma Abedin emails relevant to the FBI’s Clinton email investigation have been found on her husband’s computer.

Paula Reid (Credit: CBS News)

Paula Reid (Credit: CBS News)

CBS News reporter Paula Reid posts a Tweet regarding the FBI’s recently started analysis of Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s emails found on her husband Anthony Weiner’s computer: “@CBSNews confirms FBI found emails on #AnthonyWeiner computer, related to Hillary Clinton server, that are ‘new’ & not previously reviewed.” (Twitter, 11/3/2016)

In a follow-up Tweet, she explains what she means by “related to Hillary Clinton server:” “An email sent to or from an email address connected to the private Clinton sever. Doesn’t mean it’s HRC’s [Clinton’s] email.” (Twitter, 11/3/2016)

Later in the day, CBS News reports, “The FBI has found emails related to Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state on the laptop belonging to the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, Anthony Weiner, according to a US official. These emails… are not duplicates of emails found on Secretary Clinton’s private server. At this point, however, it remains to be seen whether these emails are significant to the FBI’s investigation into Clinton. It is also not known how many relevant emails there are.” (CBS News, 11/3/2016)

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: It is alleged Comey told Congress about reopening the FBI’s Clinton investigation at least partially due to fears of leaks from the FBI’s New York office.

Reuters reports that FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress on October 28, 2016, revealing that the Clinton email investigation was being reopened, at least partially due to fear of leaks from within the FBI.

A look inside the New York field agents office located in the Federal Plaza in NYNY. (Credit: public domain)

A look inside the FBI New York field office at the Federal Plaza in New York City. (Credit: public domain)

The investigation is being reopened due to new evidence discovered in an unrelated FBI investigation into sexual texts Anthony Weiner allegedly sent to a minor. Weiner is a former New York Congressperson and the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

It is believed that the Weiner investigation is being conducted with the help of the FBI’s New York field office, which initially discovered the emails. Two unnamed law enforcement officials say that a faction of FBI agents in the New York office are believed to be hostile to Hillary Clinton, and have been known to leak information to the press.

These sources also say that the examination of new evidence – believed to be thousands of Abedin’s emails found on Weiner’s computer – is being conducted under very tight security at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC. (Reuters, 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)