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One week ahead of US presidential election no pundit dares make stakes

November 01, 2016, 19:53 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The Americans may have an eon of flaws, but at the decisive moment common sense usually prevails, analysts hope

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MOSCOW, November 1. /TASS/. The latest row in the US, which has erupted one week ahead of the presidential election over the FBI’s decision to launch another probe into Hillary Clinton’s email exchanges, has in fact equalized the popularity ratings of the Democratic candidate and her Republican rival, Donald Trump, thereby adding to the uncertainty that is bound to linger up to the voting date, polled analysts have told TASS.

Whose ally is the FBI?

The FBI’s decision to investigate Clinton again over her reported violations, such as the use of personal email to exchange classified information, has drawn a very reserved response from the White House and a storm of anger from the Democratic party.

US presidential spokesman Josh Earnest has said the Barack Obama Administration is keen to be "scrupulous" in "avoiding even the appearance of political interference" on the investigative authorities. In the meantime, Clinton herself has criticized the FBI’s decision. "It’s pretty strange to put something like that out with such little information right before an election," she said.

Many former US Department of Justice officials have taken Clinton’s side. Former Attorney-General, Eric Holder, and dozens of other former Department of Justice employees have come up with an open letter to criticize FBI Director James Comey for what they described as an attempt to play into Trump’s hands. The online resource Daily Beast has said the letter was authored by Clinton’s election team and then circulated among former federal attorneys and Department of Justice employees.

The New York Times has found out that the investigation was resumed after FBI operatives took note of e-mail messages concerning Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin, and her husband, Anthony Weiner. The latter is being investigated by the FBI over sending "explicit messages" to a 15-year-old, being fully aware she was under age.

High-level conflict

The deputy rector of the Moscow state institute of international relations MGIMO, Yevgeny Kozhokin, believes the FBI director’s decision to launch another probe into the way Hillary Clinton had used a private server for official correspondence, although the case was closed last summer, stems not just from the newly-unearthed evidence, but from national security interest first and foremost.

"The FBI’s task is to enforce compliance with the law and the observance of procedures mandatory within the US government machinery. These procedures are to be respected by any official regardless of status. The FBI is obliged to check if Clinton has not caused any harm to national security. Objectively, the FBI is involved in the election campaign despite itself - not against Clinton, though, but in defense of the law. That the probe into leaks from her official correspondence has been resumed on the eve of the polling day means that the Democratic candidate has really tough luck," Kozhokin said.

Assistant Professor Kirill Koktysh, of the political theory department at the MGIMO institute of international relations, points to US media publications saying that in Weiner’s PC the FBI found part of Clinton’s classified correspondence.

"CIA veteran Charles Faddis has authored an article in The Hill on that score. He claims that senior US officials are always in focus of foreign intelligence services and that any civil servant would certainly end up in jail for mixing private messages and top secret information. In the meantime, Clinton is going ahead with the presidential campaign as if nothing has happened, while the Department of Justice appears to be covering up the affair," Koktysh said.

"Hillary’s friend, Loretta Lynch, took over the Department of Justice a couple of years ago. Before, she had been US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. That appointment may have caused a kind of revolt inside the FBI, which experiences pressures from the Department of Justice," Koktysh speculates.

"Old-time rivalry between two independent competitors - the FBI and the Department of Justice - is still there. They keep putting spokes in each other’s wheels, and sometimes the effects of this are rather painful. In this particular case their conflict appears to have reached a high, even alarming level," says Viktor Kremenyuk, deputy director of the Institute of US and Canada Studies.

Primitive arguments as the last resort

Polled analysts are unanimous Clinton’s allegations Trump has pro-Russian connections are primitive.

The New York Times last Friday quoted sources in the US law enforcement as saying the FBI’s probe has found no proof of a single charge Trump had pro-Russian ties. Nor has the FBI identified any evidence, the daily says, Moscow was behind the perpetrators who had hacked into Democratic Party servers with the aim to bolster Trump’s chances of getting into the White House. In the meantime, Clinton has voiced such accusations against Russia more than once.

"When there is no argument at hand against the rival and fine instruments turn out ineffective, the Democrats have no option left other than to resort to primitive electioneering tricks, including Trump’s alleged connections with the Kremlin. I believe it is not accidental US Vice-President Joe Biden has declared in advance he will not join a future US Administration, should Clinton emerge the winner," Koktysh believes.

Kozhokin remarks that part of the US electorate is anti-Russia minded, while another part would like Washington to cooperate with Moscow.

"Hillary is trying to play the anti-Russian card by virtue of her own inferiority complexes, and this rests entirely upon her conscience," Koktysh believes.

"It is to be hoped these prejudices will remain an unavoidable feature of the election campaign, while in real life the US establishment will be treating Russia as a large military power, a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a country that presses for world stability, expresses readiness for cooperation with the United States and refrains from conducting an anti-US policy," he said.

The clock is ticking

As follows from an opinion poll published by the Washington Post on Monday, Clinton’s advantage over her Republican opponent is minimal: 46% of the voters are ready to cast ballots for Clinton, and 45%, for Trump. Clinton’s original double-digit advantage has now shrunk to one percentage point.

Koktysh points out that even those mass media who had been regarded as the Democratic Party’s mouthpieces have acknowledged Clinton’s rating is plummeting.

Experts believe that the sex tape scandal the Democrats staged over Trump’s past is nothing but spent steam.

"From the standpoint of political technologies it was an impeccable move, but most of its strength is already gone," Kremenyuk believes.

"Part of the female electorate will certainly turn their backs on Trump. The trick has worked," Kozhokin agrees. "But the United States, alongside the traditional family values, also advocates same-sex marriages. Who will ever be able to understand that paradoxical country?"

Nobody dares make forecasts

None of the polled analysts dares make predictions regarding a future winner of the US presidential election.

"When the British establishment presented a common front against Brexit there followed the reverse effect. Britain is leaving the European Union. Anything can happen in the United States. Each coming day has more surprises in store," Kozhokin said.

Koktysh recalls there are two different sectors of the economy behind Clinton and Trump: "Clinton is tied to moneyed interests, while Trump represents industrial tycoons. The turbulence of the campaign is so strong that it can send either candidate into a tailspin."

"The Americans may have an eon of flaws, but at the decisive moment common sense usually prevails," says Kremenyuk.

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