Tallmadge, Ohio

With ghosts and jack o’lanterns appearing on front lawns across the country right now, there is more than a little spookiness in the air.  But nowhere is the seasonal fear being felt more acutely than inside the Clinton campaign, which may be about to experience a bonafide nightmare.

A few hours ago, FBI director James Comey wrote to key members of Congress indicating he was re-opening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s alleged mishandling of classified information. “In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation,” Comey wrote.

Just to add a little spice to the already-significant headline, cable news stations are reporting off-record sources within the FBI that say the case in question is that of disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner (who was married to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin and is facing charges relating to an underage sexting scandal).

Very little is known at this stage about these mystery emails, and Clinton supporters will likely view this as a last ditch effort to distract voters by what Hillary herself once called the “vast right wing conspiracy”. James Comey was a registered Republican for many years before leading the feds, giving the conspiracy theorists some additional ammo.

But, considering he had already previously decided not to pursue criminal charges against Mrs Clinton for handling classified information on a private server, and that we are less than two weeks out from the election with the whole world watching closely, Comey would have to be pretty damn brave to be intervening at this time without a smoking gun.

Regardless of what these emails may or may not contain, it is a bad omen for the Clinton campaign and goes directly to the lack of trust that many Americans have in their de facto royal family.

The announcement also follows weeks of data dumps by WikiLeaks purporting to come from the hacked personal email account of campaign manager John Podesta. Among a number of embarrassing gems – such as key aides having a go at America’s 70 million Catholics and calling Bernie Sanders a “dufus” – the leaks also provided a worrying look inside the secretive Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

The leaks painted a picture of a much-too-cosy relationship between the Clintons and foreign regimes with less than stellar human rights records, including a $12 million cheque from Morocco’s King Mohammed VI and a $1 million “birthday present” to the former president from the nation of Qatar.

They also indicated scenarios where Mrs Clinton had used her position within the State department to grant favours to prominent foundation donors, and a flurry of eyebrow-raising financial and people-to-people ties between her personal staff, federal government bureaucrats and foreign backers.

Luckily for the Clinton campaign, at the same time that Julian Assange was pressing send on these leaked materials from the confines of his self-inflicted prison in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Donald Trump was being accused by multiple women of sexual assault and a video of him bragging about unwanted advances to women was being played on every channel.

Voters will ultimately make up their own minds about which they think stinks more –  misogyny and assault on the one hand or systemic corruption on the other.

It is little wonder that so many Americans are dismayed about their options.

Trump is already out on the stump making a big deal of these revelations, while Julian Assange has promised he has even more “October surprises” to come.

The Clinton campaign will take solace in the fact that millions of Americans have already voted and millions more have a very unfavourable view of her opponent. Plus Trump could steal the limelight with a fresh scandal at any moment.

But I imagine there are a few inside the Clinton machine’s inner circle who will be having a less than happy Halloween.


Hillary Clinton enjoying Halloween in happier times. Image source: Washington Free Beacon. 

Published 28 October 2016

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