Trump plays up email controversy to the hilt, Clinton blasts FBI for threatening her candidacy

New York: Republican Donald Trump pounced on Hillary Clinton's email woes on Saturday to make ground in key battleground states, while Democrats blasted FBI Director James Comey for smearing Clinton with oblique innuendoes and violating long-standing Justice Department rules against taking steps that could influence a US election outcome.

The Clinton campaign said FBI director Comey's widely publicized letter to Congress on newly found emails was 'long on innuendo' and 'short on facts.'

“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,” Clinton said at a rally in Florida.

Comey's letter dispatched to Congress on Friday flies in the face of a clean chit the FBI gave Clinton in July. Just four months ago, the FBI said it had finished its investigation into why Clinton had thought it was alright to use a private server while secretary of state. At the time, Comey called Clinton "extremely careless" for the way she handled confidential information, but indicated there would be no criminal charges filed in the case.

Beleaguered Clinton accused Trump aided by the FBI of painting the email issue in the darkest terms to "confuse and mislead" voters.

 Trump plays up email controversy to the hilt, Clinton blasts FBI for threatening her candidacy

A file photo of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. AP

There's no doubt that the email saga is going to take a toll on Clinton: potentially jettison loosely affiliated Republican undecided voters that were leaning towards her as they found Trump intolerable.

"The New York Times" pointed out that it was "deeply worrying" for Democrats: "Clinton’s advisers expressed concern that the FBI’s renewed attention to emails relating to the nominee would turn some voters against her, hurt party candidates in competitive House and Senate races, and complicate efforts to win over undecided Americans in the final days of the election."

Before Friday's reignited email controversy, Democrats were not only confident of winning the presidency but the four seats required to retake control of the Senate. However, a lot has changed this week with Trump playing significant catch-up to tighten the race. Clinton and Trump are now separated by only two percentage points in a new Washington Post/ABC News tracking poll which showed likely voters split 47 percent for Clinton and 45 percent for Trump.

Trump Milks Controversy

Trump is having a field day with his "Crooked Hillary" theme as the FBI looks into whether there was classified information in Clinton emails on an electronic device belonging to Anthony Weiner and his estranged wife, top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

“As John Podesta said, Clinton's got bad instincts,” a resurgent Trump told voters at a noisy rally on Saturday in Colorado.

“Well, she’s got bad instincts when her emails are on Anthony Weiner’s wherever,” Trump added suggestively.

Trump also warned voters about rampant corruption.

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"The Department of Justice is trying so hard to protect Hillary," Trump declared. "There are those — and I happen to be one of them — who think Hillary Clinton offered Loretta Lynch a reappointment as attorney general."

"Folks, we're living in a third-world country. This has never happened before. This is the lowest point in terms of our judicial system. This is the lowest point in the history of our country. Remember that. And when I talk about a rigged system, let's see what happens," he added.

Undoubtedly, Trump has been handed a political gift from the FBI in the run-up to the 8 November elections. According to political analysts, Trump just needs to keep his head down and avoid his trademark faux pas to keep the spotlight firmly on Clinton's troubles in the campaign's final days.

CNBC suggested the email probe could hand the election to Trump.

"This news definitely improves on Trump's chances to win...With both main candidates struggling with record high unfavorable ratings, nothing can come too late to affect millions of voters who could finally find one candidate or the other simply too unlikable to bother to vote for," Jake Novak wrote in an op-ed piece published by CNBC.

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Updated Date: Oct 30, 2016 12:25:00 IST