With FBI clearing her name of any “wrongdoing” over her emails, Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton retains her edge over rival Donald Trump. However the race still remains close in the US presidential elections, which have been termed by observers as the most engrossing and unprecedentedly negative campaign in decades.
As FBI Director James Comey, in a dramatic twist of events, told Congressional leaders in a letter that the bureau found no evidence of wrongdoing by Clinton in its review of emails, a jubilant Clinton camp said Hillary is “glad that the matter is resolved.”
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However, Trump cried foul and accused FBI of impropriety. He told supporters in Sterling Heights, Michigan: “She is protected by a rigged system… It’s a totally rigged system. You can’t review 650,000 emails in eight days. Hillary Clinton is guilty. She knows it. The FBI knows it. The people know it… and now it is up for American people to deliver justice.” He expressed confidence that in two days Americans will “close the history book on the Clintons once and for all.”
On October 28, an earlier letter from Comey to congressional leaders had cast clouds over Clinton’s campaign as it said that the FBI agents had discovered emails “that appear pertinent” to a prior probe into Hillary’s use of private server during her term as Secretary of State. The emails were discovered during a separate probe into charges of sexting against Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
In his latest letter, Comey said the FBI had been working around the clock to process and review the large volume of emails. “During that process, we reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State. Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton,” he said.
Comey’s letter has brought further stability to Clinton’s lead over Trump, political observers said. However, the earlier disclosures had given the Trump camp an unexpected boost, marching him closer to Hillary.
Despite the closing of gap, Clinton has always retained a slight edge. According to compilation of data by RealClearPolitics (see box), Clinton has been ahead almost continuously.
This campaign has been marked by its viciousness, negativity and its polarising rhetoric. Critics lamented that the image of the country and the media — which has been accused of taking sides by Trump — was left severely dented by the feisty campaign.
In an opinion piece, the Washington Times pointed out that a scientific study by the Media Research Centre found that 91 per cent of the Trump coverage over the past 12 weeks has been “hostile,” concentrating on accusations of his shabby treatment of women, and sparing Hillary Clinton of a close examination of her shortcomings.
TV and radio shows pointed out that the campaign, which has witnessed Trump mocking the disabled, Mexicans, women and Hispanic Americans, would leave a scar on children. They said Hillary, who was a “prohibitive favourite her party’s nomination”, does not enjoy credibility due to her past actions and allegations against Clinton Foundation.
On Tuesday when Americans go to vote, both Clinton and Trump would still have hopes of winning. Experts says the key states would be Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. If either wins three of these states, it will be a good indication on who would become the 45th President of United States.