In an extraordinary announcement two days before the presidential election, James Comey, the director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, reaffirmed his July decision not to recommend any charges in the probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server.
On Oct. 28, Mr. Comey informed lawmakers that the bureau intended to review a newly discovered cache of e-mails from Ms. Clinton’s time as secretary of state. Investigators “worked around the clock” to examine the correspondence, he wrote in a brief letter on Sunday. “We have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.”
The moves by Mr. Comey are without precedent and have whipsawed the campaign in dramatic fashion as the candidates were making their final appeals to voters. Mr. Comey’s statement nine days earlier set off a firestorm of criticism from Ms. Clinton’s campaign and helped Donald Trump arrive within striking distance of his Democratic rival in the polls. Now, the dynamic is being reversed.
On Sunday, Ms. Clinton’s campaign welcomed Mr. Comey’s latest letter and sought to close the book on a controversy that has bedeviled her candidacy. “We were always confident nothing would cause the July decision to be reversed,” said Brian Fallon, a Clinton campaign spokesman, in a post on Twitter. “Now Director Comey has confirmed it.”
Kellyanne Conway, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, asserted that the investigation has been mishandled from the beginning and sought to keep the focus on Ms. Clinton’s credibility. “Some things haven’t changed at all,” she said in an appearance Sunday on MSNBC. “She was reckless, she was careless, she was selfish.”
Earlier, the Trump campaign had praised Mr. Comey’s announcement that the FBI was reviewing new e-mails, with Mr. Trump calling it “bigger than Watergate” and proof of his claim that Ms. Clinton had engaged in “criminal” behaviour.
Mr. Comey’s stunning follow-up came as Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump dashed across the country on the weekend making their last pitches to voters in starkly divergent terms. Both campaigns are engaged in an all-out push to motivate their supporters, hoping to generate a wave of enthusiasm that will carry them to the polls on Tuesday.
Ms. Clinton sought to wind up the long and bitter contest on a positive note, telling voters in Pennsylvania that the election was a moment to choose “unity over division and love over hate.” In Nevada, Mr. Trump promised his supporters that they would conquer what he called a “corrupt political machine” and a “rigged system.”
Mr. Trump’s campaign is betting that the Republican nominee will be buoyed by a surge of primarily white voters who don’t normally participate in elections and who aren’t captured in polling. Ms. Clinton, meanwhile, is counting on a coalition of minorities and college-educated whites to deliver victory.
Ms. Clinton is maintaining a narrow but consistent lead in national polls. Her campaign is using powerful surrogates and star power to carry her message to battleground states before Tuesday. On the weekend, Ms. Clinton travelled to Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. In Philadelphia, she appeared with pop star Katy Perry, who gave a free concert while wearing a cape emblazoned with the words “I’m with Madame President.”
In the suburbs of Philadelphia on Sunday, Chelsea Clinton, the Democratic nominee’s daughter, arrived to fire up a group of 100 volunteers setting out to knock on doors for her mother. The Globe asked her if she was feeling confident. “We’re working on it,” the younger Ms. Clinton said. “We just gotta keep going.”
Mr. Trump’s final push is a lonelier one. Where Ms. Clinton has a team of top Democrats campaigning for her – including President Barack Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, first lady Michelle Obama, Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren – Mr. Trump is relying on his vice-presidential nominee, Indiana Governor Mike Pence.
On Saturday, Mr. Trump’s campaign released a two-minute advertisement intended as a closing argument. It features Mr. Trump warning darkly of a “failed and corrupt political establishment” partnering with a “global power structure” to enact policies that have “robbed our working class [and] stripped our country of its wealth.”
In addition to images of Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama, it showed photos of financier George Soros, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen and Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, all Jewish-Americans.
“Whether intentional or not, the images and rhetoric in this ad touch on subjects that anti-Semites have used for ages,” Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement. “This needs to stop.”
With Election Day imminent, the two campaigns are playing a final round of chess. On Sunday, Mr. Trump planned campaign stops in Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia, three states that have been considered solidly in Ms. Clinton’s camp. Minnesota has not voted for a Republican nominee since 1972. Ms. Clinton’s campaign, meanwhile, announced additional stops in Michigan, where polls have tightened somewhat.
Early voting patterns indicate good tidings for Ms. Clinton, thanks partly to a surge by Latino voters. In Nevada, she appears to have built up a nearly insurmountable lead judging by the party registrations of early voters. In Florida, too, Latinos have flooded to the polls and mailed in ballots: Such voters have already exceeded their turnout over the same period in the previous presidential election by 170,000 people, according to Steve Schale, a Democratic strategist and expert on the state’s politics.
Pennsylvania, which does not allow early voting, is a key brick in Ms. Clinton’s firewall and her campaign is determined to deny Mr. Trump a victory here. Volunteers knocked on more than 700,000 doors across the state on Saturday, according to a memo from a campaign aide.
Wanda Dixon, 61, of Chester, Pa., has voted in every election since she was 18. On Tuesday, she will head to the polls together with 10 other people, including her grandchildren and neighbours, all voting for Ms. Clinton. “We got this, I know it,” she said with enthusiasm. She predicted that Mr. Trump will be “howling foul play” if he loses. But she expressed confidence in the future. “We’re going to put out this fire,” she said. “It’s gonna be alright.”
MORTON, PA. — The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Nov. 06, 2016 3:44PM EST
Last updated Monday, Nov. 07, 2016 5:23AM EST