By Jesus Cervantes November 3, 2016
As the election wound down, and all hope for a Donald Trump presidency seemed lost, FBI Director James Comey dropped a bombshell on Congress that may have given the real estate mogul a lifeline to save his campaign.
Just 11 days before election day, Comey announced that the FBI had discovered emails that could be related to Hillary Clinton’s private server during the course of an unrelated investigation. The announcement came without warning, and it didn't include much in the way of substantial information, which could be all the more beneficial for Trump’s campaign.
Trump has been quick to take advantage of the situation, claiming that these emails are further proof of Clinton’s corruption and irresponsibility. While the information within the emails hasn't yet been released, Trump has been making the case that the emails must have something important in them if Comey bothered to make such a huge announcement about it. Meanwhile, Clinton and Democrats across the board have blasted Comey for his “unprecedented” and “irresponsible" announcement, claiming that he broke long-standing Justice department policy by commenting on a matter that would almost surely tip the election away from the Democrats.
Ever since the The Washington Post released a 2005 Access Hollywood recording in which Trump spoke about sexually assaulting women, Clinton has had an extremely safe lead on Trump. In fact, the Democratic Party had begun focusing on down-ballot races since the presidential election was so clearly in their favor. Now, however, Trump has been gifted a perfect story to close the gap between him and Clinton.
As things stand, very little details on the emails have been released. Comey himself even said the new emails could be duplicates that the FBI had already reviewed. However, with such little time before the election, anything Clinton does to defend herself must happen soon. Her options seem to be limited, however, as anything she says will likely provide little comfort to the undecided voters who are concerned by this recent revelation.
And yet—in the extremely unlikely circumstance that the FBI comments again on the emails before the election, their impact could be massive. If it is found that the emails are duplicates or inconsequential, then it's possible that Clinton could blast Trump for being wrong and spewing random ideas about their contents. However, by then the damage could have already been done, and Clinton’s longstanding email issue would be fresh in the minds of voters going to the ballot box.
Alternately, if these emails are discovered to be new and contain information that is damaging to Clinton, then Trump will have more solid ground to attack Clinton on; he'll likely close the gap even further. Regardless of the contents of these emails, there is likely no way for Clinton to avoid damage from their release between now and election day. And yet, there is still a bright side for Clinton—tens of millions of Americans cast their ballots before the letter’s release, which narrows Trump’s ability to gain on her. Trump has already gained on her, based on the latest polls, but we'll have to wait and see if they did enough damage to allow Trump to pull ahead of Clinton - it's unlikely, but not impossible.