Embarking on the final day of a furious campaign, Hillary Clinton tried Monday to at last emerge from the cloud of suspicion that has followed her campaign and close her historic bid with a call for elusive unity and hope. Donald Trump vowed not to make it easy.
Hours after the FBI announced it had again cleared Clinton, Trump and his campaign quickly cast doubt on legitimacy of the FBI’s decision not to recommend charges in its investigation into her use of a private email server as secretary of state. The Trump campaign criticized the FBI probe, suggesting the latest rapid review of a Clinton aide’s emails could not have been thorough.
“They’ve bungled the investigation from the beginning,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller said on CNN. Miller called for the FBI to release the newly discovered emails belonging to aide Huma Adebin.
The comments were a reminder that FBI Director James Comey’s news, delivered in a letter to lawmakers on Sunday, was doubled-edged sword for Clinton. While it vindicated her claims that the emails would not yield new evidence, it ensured that the final hours of her campaign would be spent talking about a subject that has damaged her credibility.
Clinton’s campaign said the candidate would not be discussing the news Monday as she campaigns in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
She instead, tried to end with a broader argument. Clinton, seeking to become America’s first female president, cast herself as the candidate of “healing and reconciliation” — perhaps a surprising position for one of the most divisive figures in American politics.
She started her Sunday with a visit to an African-American church in Philadelphia, where she spoke of her candidacy in almost spiritual terms, as she tried to motivate black voters in the crucial swing state. And she ended with an evening rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, featuring remarks from Khizr Khan, the Muslim-American lawyer whose Army captain son was killed in Iraq.
“This election is a moment of reckoning,” she told voters on Sunday night. “It is a choice between division and unity, between strong, steady leadership and a loose cannon who could put everything at risk.”
Trump, meanwhile, voiced new confidence as he brought his campaign — and his dark visions of a rigged American economic and political system— to Democratic strongholds.
“This is a whole different ballgame,” Trump said in Minneapolis, predicting victory in a state that hasn’t voted Republican since 1972. At a rally in Virginia that Trump called his “midnight special speech,” the Republican called the race a “marathon.”
“We are going to have one of the great victories of all time,” he said, comparing the US election to the “Brexit” vote by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union “times 50.”
Trump continued to seize on the email issue, despite the FBI’s finding.
“Hillary Clinton is guilty. She knows it, the FBI knows it, the people know,” he said at a rally that drew thousands to an amphitheater in the Detroit suburbs.
Comey’s move capped a stunning chapter in the bitter, deeply divisive contest. The director’s initial decision to make a renewed inquiry into Clinton’s emails public on Oct. 28 upended the campaign at a crucial moment, sapping a surging Clinton’s momentum and giving Trump fresh ammunition to challenge her trustworthiness.
Clinton’s campaign, furious at Comey’s handling of the review, welcomed Sunday’s announcement, but Clinton did not mention the issue at her campaign events.
The new review involved material found on a computer belonging to Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former congressman and estranged husband of Abedin, the Clinton aide. While Comey was vague in his initial description of the inquiry, he said Sunday that the FBI reviewed communications “to or from Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state.”
Comey told lawmakers the FBI was not changing the conclusion it reached this summer. Then, Comey said, “no reasonable prosecutor” would recommend Clinton face criminal charges.
The FBI began investigating the handling of classified material on Clinton’s private email server shortly after she announced her bid in April 2015.
Clinton still appears to hold an edge over Trump in the campaign’s final stretch. The Republican has a narrow path to victory that requires him to win nearly all of the roughly dozen battleground states up for grabs. More than 41 million Americans have already cast their ballots in early voting.
Clinton’s high-wattage allies also fanned out across the country, including President Barack Obama, who was joined by musical icon Stevie Wonder at a rally in Florida. He’ll join Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama along with rock stars Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi at an evening rally in Philadelphia on Monday. She’ll also campaign in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Pittsburgh and Raleigh, North Carolina.
Trump planned to keep up the breakneck campaign pace through Tuesday. On Monday, he’ll go to Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. After voting in New York Tuesday morning, Trump was expected to return to Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina and New Hampshire later in the day.