Tuesday 12 December 2017

Poll shows Trump ahead as storm over emails makes for a 'fight to death' finish

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to a member of the audience after speaking at a rally at Smale Riverfront Park in Cincinnati. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to a member of the audience after speaking at a rally at Smale Riverfront Park in Cincinnati. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

Barney Henderson in New York

Donald Trump has edged ahead of Hillary Clinton in a major national poll taken in the wake of her latest email scandal.

Mr Trump led by one percentage point in the ABC News/ 'Washington Post' tracking poll released yesterday.

The results were within the poll's margin of error, placing the two candidates in a statistical tie. But it was the first time the Republican nominee has led in that poll since May, and he was recently down by as much as 12 points.

Mr Trump led 46pc to 45pc. He had trailed by one point in the same poll as of Sunday.

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green candidate Jill Stein polled in the low single digits. The new survey was taken from October 27 to October 30. That meant many of those questioned had a chance to react to FBI director James Comey's announcement, on October 28, that new Clinton-related emails had been found.

Those emails could be "pertinent" to an FBI investigation into Mrs Clinton's use of a private server while she was US Secretary of State.

Some 53pc of Trump supporters in the poll said they were "very enthusiastic" about their candidate.

Only 45pc said the same for Mrs Clinton.

Her figure was down by eight points from before the email revelation. Gary Langer, the pollster who carried out the survey, said: "Either way, the results are exceedingly close."

Another poll released showed 47pc to 41pc. The NBC News/Survey Monkey poll was taken between October 24-30, meaning the majority of the sample came before Mr Comey's announcement.

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Yesterday, an exultant Mr Trump predicted the email scandal would be "absolutely devastating" to Mrs Clinton as he sought to steal safe Democratic states away from his rival.

However, the controversy around Mr Comey's decision to announce a fresh investigation grew as the Clinton camp accused him of "double standards" after claims he sought to withhold evidence of alleged Russian support for Mr Trump in the election campaign.

Mr Trump sardonically thanked Huma Abedin and her disgraced, estranged husband, for their roles in the Clinton email scandal that has engulfed her campaign. "Thank you, Huma, good job. Thank you Anthony Weiner," he said.

Suggesting that, if Mrs Clinton wins she could face impeachment and a criminal trial as president, he said: "Her election would mire our government and our country in a constitutional crisis that we cannot afford."

Last Friday, Mr Comey announced a fresh probe into Mrs Clinton's use of a private email server for classified government communication. The new emails were discovered on a device seized during an unrelated underage sexting investigation into former New York congressman Mr Weiner.

Sources told CNN that Mr Comey will not release any further information to the public on the investigation until the review was complete, which is highly unlikely to happen before election day next Tuesday, November 8.

The most relevant of the 650,000 emails linked to the Clinton campaign could be identified by election day, it was claimed on Monday. However, analysis of their contents and significance will take much longer. "These kinds of cases by their very nature are painstaking and involve layers of complexity beyond run-of-the-mill investigations," said Paul Pelletier, a former Justice Department official.

The Clinton campaign accused Mr Comey of applying a double standard when it comes to the presidential candidates after the FBI director was reportedly opposed to releasing information close to election day about alleged Russian interference in the presidential race.

"A foreign power was trying to undermine the election. He believed it to be true but was against putting it out before the election," a former official told CNBC.

The CNBC report said Mr Comey had ensured the FBI's name was not on a document that the US government put out accusing Russia of meddling in the US election. The FBI declined to comment.

Beyond the White House, Republicans see the email exchanges as a new opportunity to win over voters for dozens of down-ballot races that will determine House and Senate control next year.

House Speaker Paul Ryan told Fox News he voted for Trump last week and warned that electing Clinton and a Democratic-controlled Congress would be "the worst of all possible things".

"For those of us who lived through the 1990s, it's sort of a feeling like déjà vu," he said. "This is what life with the Clintons looks like. It's always a scandal, then there's an investigation."

Mrs Clinton's campaign manager Robby Mook said Mr Comey's actions were evidence of a "blatant double standard".

Mr Mook called on Mr Comey to "immediately explain this incongruence and apply the same standard to Donald Trump's associates as he has applied to Hillary Clinton's."

Irish Independent

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