FBI Director James Comey seems determined to leave his mark on the 2016 campaign. Just nine days after he injected himself into the campaign by his ill-timed announcement that the FBI was taking another look at Hillary Clinton’s emails, he released another letter on Sunday, just two days before the election, that said, in effect, ‘never mind.’
Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton. I am very grateful to the professionals at the FBI for doing an extraordinary amount of high-quality work in a short period of time.
— FBI Director James Comey
Through campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri, the Clinton campaign said, “We’re glad this matter is resolved.” However, those words probably did not convey their disgust with how Mr. Comey has handled this issue from start to finish. After being rebuked by the President and Attorney General, the most surprising outcome of this would be if Comey still has his job come January.
However, while Comey’s letter was a distraction to the nation and both campaigns, it never appeared likely to change the outcome on Election Day, which will be to elect Hillary Clinton the first woman President of the United States. The voters have already had plenty of opportunities to compared Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump, and there’s never been much of a contest.
Even before Comey’s letter, Hillary continued on her history-making march to the presidency. The short term climb in the polls that Trump saw for a few days after Comey’s letter was already stalled, and most current polls put Clinton comfortably ahead of Trump. For example, in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released on November 6 Clinton held a comfortable 4 point lead over Trump.
The same poll showed Gary Johnson winning 6% of the vote, which is important to supporters of the Libertarian Party. If Johnson can win at least 5% of the national vote, the Libertarian Party will qualify for federal matching funds in the 2020 campaign and will be recognized as an “official minor party.”
A Politico/Morning Consult poll also released on Sunday gave Clinton a 3 point lead over Trump, with Mr. Johnson polling 8%. Both of these polls were taken before the release of Mr. Comey’s second letter, and observers feel that Clinton will receive an upward bump in votes as a result of her second clearance from the FBI.
The election has been a long and tiring road for Hillary Clinton. No one would blame her for taking a nice long vacation after she wins on Tuesday, but that’s simply not in her nature. There will be a few days of celebrating and thanking her supporters, but within the week Mrs. Clinton will be hard at work on the transition and healing the nation after the long and divisive election. It’s probably too much to expect that Mr. Trump will show grace and join Hillary Clinton in the healing process, but one can always hope.
There are just 72 days between Election Night and Inauguration Day. Hillary Clinton has had staff working on the transition since April, and her prior experience as First Lady and Secretary of State will no doubt help things go smoothly. Nevertheless, there is much to accomplish and only a short time to do it before she returns to her home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.