US Elections 2016: Final countdown

Clinton campaign accuses FBI chief of double standards

Mrs Clinton joking with her staff on a flight to Erlanger, Kentucky, during Halloween, which fell on Monday. Her campaign is working to contain the damage from FBI director James Comey's announcement that the agency was restarting a probe into the fo
Mrs Clinton joking with her staff on a flight to Erlanger, Kentucky, during Halloween, which fell on Monday. Her campaign is working to contain the damage from FBI director James Comey's announcement that the agency was restarting a probe into the former secretary of state's use of a private e-mail server while in office.PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON • Mrs Hillary Clint- on's presidential campaign yester- day ratcheted up the pressure on FBI director James Comey, saying that if he could release inconclusive information about the Democratic candidate, he could do the same for her Republican rival.

But her campaign seemed to have taken a knock as a new poll showed that her rival, Mr Donald Trump, had edged ahead by a point for the first time since May.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll yesterday showed Mr Trump had a 46-45 lead in the four-way race for the White House, while well within the margin of error.

The poll was taken from Oct 27-30, a period that includes Mr Comey's Oct 28 announcement that his agents had found a new trove of e-mails that may be pertinent to an earlier probe into Mrs Clinton's handling of classified data.

The poll also registered a seven-point decline for Mrs Clinton in the share of likely voters who are strongly enthusiastic about her.

An average of national polls by RealClearPolitics.com, however, showed her with a lead of 2.2 percentage points yesterday.

Mrs Clinton's campaign is working to contain the damage from the Comey announcement, with campaign manager Robby Mook questioning why the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director had not released any information about its probe into Russia's role in the US election or its ties to Mr Trump and his senior aides.

"If you are in the business of releasing information about investigations on presidential candidates, release everything you have on Donald Trump. Release the information on his connections to the Russians," Mr Mook said on CNN.

"It is mind-boggling, and director Comey needs to answer this."

The US has blamed Russia for cyber attacks on Democratic Party organisations, but law enforcement officials investigating the country's role in the presidential campaign and any ties to Mr Trump or his senior advisers have found no conclusive, direct link, The New York Times (NYT) reported on Monday.

It also reported that Mr Trump used tactics so "legally dubious" to avoid paying taxes that his own lawyers advised him that the government would deem these improper. Citing newly obtained documents, the NYT said Mr Trump was scrambling to stave off financial ruin in the 1990s and worked to avoid reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxable income.

Congress later outlawed one of the tactics Mr Trump used that potentially allowed him to avoid paying tens of millions of dollars in taxes.

Separately, NBC News reported that the FBI was conducting a preliminary inquiry into the business connections of Mr Trump's former campaign manager, Mr Paul Manafort. Mr Manafort has denied any wrongdoing.

Little is known yet about the e-mails, other than that they were found during an unrelated probe into Mr Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. As the din of complaints from Congress grew louder on Monday, the US Justice Department sent a letter to lawmakers telling them that it will move quickly on the new probe.

The White House also stepped in to give a modest defence of Mr Comey. Press secretary Josh Earnest said on Monday that there was no reason to believe Mr Comey is "secretly strategising to benefit one candidate or one political party".

The FBI review has given Mr Trump a chance to reset his campaign after weeks of stumbles. He renewed his assault on Mrs Clinton's trustworthiness and called her a threat to the country, saying that if she is elected, a probe into her e-mails could shadow her entire term in office.

"The investigation will last for years. The trial will probably start," Mr Trump told a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Monday. "Nothing will get done. I can tell you, your jobs will continue to leave Michigan. Nothing is going to get done."

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2016, with the headline 'Clinton campaign accuses FBI chief of double standards'. Print Edition | Subscribe