In tumultuous end to US election race, Trump cries foul as FBI clears Clinton over emails
America votes on Tuesday in a bitterly-fought presidential election after a stunning last-minute twist cleared Democrat Hillary Clinton of an email scandal that prompted Republican rival Donald Trump to demand voters punish her at the ballot box.
Overshadowing the flurry of last-minute campaigning was FBI Director James Comey’s latest letter to Congress, informing lawmakers that the bureau had found no evidence in its hurried review of newly discovered emails to warrant criminal charges against Clinton.
James Comey made the announcement in a letter to Congress on Sunday, outraging the campaign of Republican candidate Donald Trump.
“Hillary Clinton is guilty. She knows it, the FBI knows it, the people know,” he said at a rally that drew thousands to an amphitheatre in the Detroit suburbs. “And now it’s up to the American people to deliver justice at the ballot box on November 8.”
Comey said the agency had worked “around the clock” to complete its review of newly discovered emails and found no reason to change its July finding.
“During that process, we reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state,” Comey said. “We have not changed our conclusions expressed in July.”
Both candidates spent much of Sunday sprinting across swing states as they sought to lock up support ahead of election day. As the campaign’s final weekend drew to a close, more than 41 million Americans had already cast their ballots in early voting.
Comey’s latest move capped a stunning chapter in the bitter contest. The director’s initial decision to make a renewed inquiry into Clinton’s emails public on October 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. Communications director Jennifer Palmieri told reporters, “We’re glad this matter is resolved,” though Clinton did not make reference to FBI announcement at a rally in Cleveland, Ohio.
“This election is a moment of reckoning,” Clinton told voters on Sunday. “It is a choice between division and unity, between strong, steady leadership and a loose cannon who could put everything at risk.” Clinton said she was “hopeful and optimistic” about the future.
For Clinton supporters however, there was now a stronger case for them to persuade undecided voters to vote for their candidate. “Before, many people found either Hillary or Trump appealing,” said Eric Williams, a 24-year-old supporter at the Cleveland rally. “Now this news may change their mind, especially in the face of a possible Trump administration if they don’t vote.”
Cindy Rempey, who also joined the rally, said: “Trump can no longer say Clinton is tainted and turn away from his own silly remarks.”
The new review involved material found on a computer belonging to Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former congressman and estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Weiner is being investigated for ‘sexting’ an underage girl.
Republicans refused to ease up on their criticism of Clinton: “How would they have reviewed 600,009 emails in eight days?” said David Walter, a 24-year-old Trump supporter in Ohio.
Global equities rebounded sharply on Monday after the FBI’s decision to rule out criminal charges against market favourite Clinton. Markets plunged into turmoil on October 28 when Comey revealed that messages linked to Clinton were being investigated, sending Trump surging in opinion polls just days before the vote.
Asian and European equities surged higher on Monday as traders breathed a sigh of relief, while in European deals, Frankfurt stocks won 1.5 per cent, London added 1.3 per cent and Paris jumped 1.7 per cent in value.
The Mexican peso – which has taken on an inverse relationship with Trump’s presidential prospects – staged a stunning rally against the dollar to recoup all its losses from last week. The currency is considered a reflection of Trump’s chances because of his anti-Mexican rhetoric – including his pledge to remove undocumented migrants, build a border wall and tear up a trade deal.
As with previous US elections, Asian Americans have struggled to have their voices heard during a deeply divisive campaign. “We have been so invisible. We were not counted. We have not spoken out. They don’t know we exist,” said Vida Chan Lin, a second-generation Chinese American.
As a former business executive of an insurance firm and a former chairwoman of the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce, Chan’s resume fits the “model minority” label that is often attached to the Asian American population.
But a family tragedy in 1994, when her nephew was bullied by a teacher at his school and her brother-in-law’s subsequent struggles with depression, pushed Chan towards activism.
“I remember there were certain places we couldn’t go, or shops we couldn’t buy things from,” said Chan, who can remember a time when she wasn’t allowed to sit at the front of a bus because of her ethnicity. But things are starting to now change.
Asian Americans have replaced Latinos as the fastest growing ethnic group in the US – with a growth rate of 3.4 per cent between 2014 and 2015, according to the US census bureau. Nevada’s Asian population has grown faster than any other state across the country, doubling in size from 2000 to 2010 to reach 8.5 per cent of the state’s population.
The power of Asian Americans as a rising voting bloc has only been recognised recently as presidential candidates from both parties have started to reach out to the group.
In the last few weeks leading up to election day, both Clinton and Trump have run full-page adverts in Chinese in local newspaper the Las Vegas Chinese Daily News – a development described by local Asian Americans as “unprecedented”.
“Once upon a time, when we held an event, we couldn’t even get a dogcatcher to come and attend,” Gloria T. Caoile, political director of the Asian Pacific American Labour Alliance said. “Because they would say – why should I bother? You have no voice. You don’t vote. Our message is – stop treating yourself as a guest here. You are not. You are part of this infrastructure … Now we have the right to move the furniture.”
Additional reporting by Associated Press, Agence France-Presse