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FBI adds to Election 2016 twists and turns

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump(L) shakes hands with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at the start of the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump(L) shakes hands with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at the start of the first presidential debate

No change to FBI advice not to charge Clinton over emails

Washington, United States | AFP |

The 2016 presidential campaign has been a roller coaster ride with twists and turns that left voters alternately elated, distraught and sometimes flatout flummoxed.

And another one came on Sunday, when FBI Director James Comey announced that a renewed look at Democrat Hillary Clinton’s email practices had not changed his recommendation that she not face any charges.

As Clinton and Republican Donald Trump scramble for final votes during their last two days on the campaign trail, here are some of the election’s most memorable moments:

Clinton email redux 

Clinton thought a controversy over her use of a private server to send email while secretary of state had been put to rest in July, when FBI chief James Comey recommended no criminal charges against her.

All that changed in late October, just 11 days before the election, when Comey surprised Americans by announcing the discovery of new, potentially relevant emails without giving further details.

The news was welcome for Trump, who repeatedly called the revelations “the biggest political scandal since Watergate.” He saw a bump in the polls.

The 69-year-old former first lady once again apologized for using the private server, which her opponents say put classified information at risk, saying it “was a mistake and I regret it.”

But on Sunday, Comey again surprised Planet Politics by announcing that the new review had not changed the FBI’s conclusions from July — welcome news for the Democrat.

 Trump video revealed 

Trump has taken flak for his demeaning remarks about women, but a video made public on October 7 marked a new low that opened the candidate to accusations of sexual assault.

In the 2005 clip, Trump is apparently unaware his microphone is on when he describes groping and forcing himself on women in vulgar, predatory language.

“When you’re a star, they let you do it. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything,” Trump is heard bragging.

Since the video’s release, around a dozen women have accused the 70-year-old real estate mogul of unwanted and aggressive sexual advances.

“He has said that the video doesn’t represent who he is,” Clinton said during an October 9 debate.

“But I think it’s clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly who he is, because we’ve seen this throughout the campaign.”

Trump dismissed the comments as “just words” and “locker room talk,” and denied the sexual assault allegations, threatening to sue his accusers after the elections.

 The billionaire’s taxes 

Trump, a billionaire real estate mogul, has refused to release his income tax returns, defying a four-decade tradition among candidates for the White House.

During a September 26 debate, Clinton offered several hypotheses as to why Trump might decline to make that information public, musing “maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes.”

Trump seemed to imply the accusation was correct, responding only: “That makes me smart.”

Clinton wobbles, literally 

Clinton endured Trump’s taunts about her “stamina” and questions about her health in September after abruptly leaving a 9/11 memorial ceremony at Ground Zero in Manhattan.

Feeling unwell, the former secretary of state left 90 minutes into the ceremony. A passerby filmed her legs giving way, prompting two Secret Service officers to support her as she climbed into a minivan.

Clinton’s doctors later said that she was suffering from pneumonia, and needed to take a break from the campaign.

 ‘Basket of deplorables’ 

Clinton ignited a firestorm of criticism after she denigrated Trump voters on September 9 at a fundraiser in New York.

“To just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables,” she said.

Republicans immediately seized on the phrase “basket of deplorables” to drive a wedge between Clinton and white, working-class voters. “INSULTING,” Trump tweeted.

Clinton later said she regretted the comment.

Muslim soldier’s father 

Trump became locked in a war of words in July with the parents of a Muslim American soldier killed in a suicide bombing in Iraq in 2004. In a speech before the Democratic National Convention, the soldier’s father, a Pakistani immigrant named Khizr Khan, charged that Trump had “sacrificed nothing” for the country.

The Republican shot back on ABC News that he has made “a lot of sacrifices,” then raised the stakes by tweeting: “Mr Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC.”

The remarks, and Trump’s refusal to apologize for suggesting that Khan’s wife stood silently at his side at the convention because she was not allowed to speak, triggered an uproar within his party.

 

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