Is the FBI unduly influencing the US election?

A new FBI probe into Hillary Clinton's use of a private server for sending emails dealing with official matters has put the US presidential candidate under pressure shortly before the election campaign ends. Some commentators accuse the FBI chief of acting without due authority and out of vanity. Others criticise the parties' behaviour towards the country's justice system.

Open/close all quotes
Irish Examiner (IE) /

FBI's moralising vanity

FBI director Comey jumped the gun out of sheer vanity in announcing that the FBI would reopen its probe into Clinton's emails, the Irish Examiner believes:

“What Comey’s behaviour makes clear - and has made clear to observers of differing political stripes - is that a public official can do great harm through the expression of a kind of self-important moral vanity. … Maybe now that the FBI director has gored the oxen of both political parties in his insistence that everyone know how virtuously careful and non-partisan he is, we can exercise our capacity for self-correction once again. Why not return to a more traditional allocation of responsibilities in which the prosecutors make the decisions about whether to prosecute, after the investigators have investigated and reported the results to them? Then these prosecutors, as prosecutors have traditionally done, either put up, by getting an indictment, or shut up, without press conferences and public self-justification.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Parties trampling on US law enforcement

The two established parties no longer recognise the FBI's authority, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung writes worriedly:

“After Comey announced that Clinton's email practices were not criminal, the Democrats breathed a sigh of relief and praised his independence. ... Now that he has reopened the email investigation against Clinton, the Republicans are praising him while the Democrats are calling him every name under the sun. ... You can argue back and forth about whether Comey chose the right way to get out of the bind or if he would have done better to wait patiently and follow the advice of his superiors and colleagues. But in riding roughshod over its authority as soon as its decisions don't jive with their elections strategies, the two leading parties have done lasting damage to the entire justice system's reputation. Just how easily this can happen is the real shocker of this election season.”

Kainuun Sanomat (FI) /

Clinton's victory not in danger

The FBI's new investigation won't jeopardise Clinton's victory, Kainuun Sanomat asserts:

“This email investigation in the last phase of campaigning could help Trump win in the two big states Texas and Florida, where the race has been surprisingly close. In the past some were even saying that the strongly Republican Texas could fall to the Democrats this time around. ... However to win Trump must take all the swing states. If that happens and Clinton loses a couple more states that are now leaning in her favour, Trump would go from being loser to becoming president. But the key betting agencies still see Clinton's victory as a sure thing. The bets put Trump's chances of winning at 33 percent, at best.”

Le Point (FR) /

Grim outlook for Democratic candidate

The email controversy could have dire consequences for Hillary Clinton well beyond election day, Le Point believes:

“Until now Hillary Clinton has managed to manoeuvre her way around issues, not to make any statements that are too compromising, and to accuse her rival and his Russian 'accomplices' of stooping to dishonourable tactics to put her under fire. But even though the election is only ten days away, the Democratic candidate is not safe from damning revelations that could destroy her defence system and reshuffle the deck. Above all, if she is elected - and provided Congress doesn't swing completely in her favour, which is unlikely - congressmen will make her life difficult for months, if not years to come.”

Sme (SK) /

New investigations are indispensable

Even if further investigations against Hillary Clinton fail to produce conclusive evidence FBI director Comey had no other alternative, Sme believes:

“The explosive investigations that were shelved in the summer are now shockingly alive again. Many Democrats are accusing Comey of acting irresponsibly and tipping the balance in Trump's favour. But in fact he had no choice. ... If he had kept silent and it later came out that Clinton broke the law, the police would be forced to conduct investigations against the acting president. And Comey would have to explain why he didn't make the findings public before it was too late. ... Comey may have to resign, above all if Trump doesn't win. But he has not made any mistakes.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Clinton to blame, not the FBI

Hillary Clinton's careless behaviour in the email controversy could be her downfall, the Tages-Anzeiger fears:

“In any event, the brunt of the responsibility is borne not by [FBI chief] Comey, but by Hillary Clinton and her confidante Huma Abedin. Last summer the FBI criticised Clinton's 'extremely careless' handling of official emails, and apparently the same can be said of Abedin. She saved mails on a laptop to which her husband Anthony Weiner also had access. After the two split up, the device remained in the possession of the former Democratic congressman who is under investigation for sending sexually explicit messages to an underage girl. And to add to the embarrassment, Abedin stated yesterday that she had no idea how the mails could have been saved on the laptop in the first place.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

FBI makes campaign even dirtier

FBI chief Comey is wreaking havoc by resuming the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails, the Daily Telegraph rails:

“Mr Comey ... is worried about being judged in the court of public opinion, where the mood has reached such a feverish, conspiratorial pitch that nothing is sacred any more. ... The FBI has fallen into the trap of thinking that these subversive forces can be tamed by reasonableness and integrity. In fact, institutional recognition of paranoias achieves the opposite. It proves to the conspiracy theorist that he was right all along. The FBI was lying, and now they’ve had to admit it! ... This doesn’t just harm Mrs Clinton. It hurts the institutions that make democracy work. The ugliness of the debate on both sides will make it a nightmare to govern the US, whoever wins.”

HuffPost Italia (IT) /

White House now within Trump's reach

Donald Trump's chances of winning the election were never better, according to Huffington Post Italia:

“After two dark weeks of coverage of the scandalous video containing Trump's sexist remarks he seems to have survived the critical moment. The resumption of the FBI investigation against Clinton could give Trump that last boost he needs to get into the White House. On social networks Trump clearly seems to exert a greater pull than Hillary - an advantage that should not be underestimated. … By November 8 the battle will be merciless, a veritable war. If Trump manages to avoid any more disasters like the scandal video, his chances of becoming the next president of the United States will increase substantially. He is closer now than he ever was to getting into the White House.”

More opinions

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) / 31 October 2016
  Without proof accusations are just mudslinging (in German)