Lack of confidence between Democrats and the agency, made worse by James Comeys late email revealing, is likely to endure after the final votes are cast
A short stroll from the scene of one of the most notorious incidents in 20 th century American politics, Hillary Clinton was braced the coming week for another fight that could define a political generation.
Her speech at Kent State University came virtually 50 years after national guardsmen opened fire on antiwar protesters here, killing four and symbolising a decade of social upheaval.
On Monday the campus was as soothe as the dozens of college venues that have served as peaceful backdrops for a mostly one-sided 2016 election campaign.
But polls conducted since new FBI email revelations on Friday indicate waning enthusiasm among some Democratic voters may change that. A new poll for ABC News and the Washington Post puts Donald Trump one point ahead for the first time since May, and Clintons result in a rolling average of national polls has shrunk to scarcely two percentage points, although the vagaries of the electoral college system mean she remains the favourite to win next Tuesday.
But whoever emerges as the next chairperson on 8 November may face a country as divided as it has been since that fateful shooting during the Nixon administration.
Clintons primary focus on the campaign trail the coming week is her adversary. This is one of those constructs or violate moments for the United States, she tells the crowd in Kent, after a chilling introduction from a former nuclear launch officer who warns that Trumps finger on the button could lead to a crisis of confidence among the military.
If I were back in the launch chair I would have no religion in his judgment and would live in constant anxiety of him get it incorrect, warns Bruce Blair, who served in the US air force as part of the Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile launch control team.
Yet the former secretary of state is also warning of a lack of trust between Democrats and other parts of the national security establishment.
Since FBI director James Comey stunned them on Friday by announcing fresh investigations into Clintons potentially illegal utilize of a private email server while secretary of state, her campaign has chosen to go to war with the bureau almost as aggressively as against Trump.
Campaign manager Robby Mook accused Comey of jaw-dropping and irresponsible behaviour, while the most senior Democrat in Congress, Senate minority leader Harry Reid, went bare-knuckle even by Washington standards: claiming Comey was transgressing the law and covering up collusion between Trump and Russia. Barack Obama stood alone in questioning whether it was really plausible that the FBI was trying to pick sides.
Onboard Clintons airliner the mood was notably tenser since Comeys letter, but there was also a steely determination not to let the FBI knock the campaign off course.
Weve got our work cut out for us. Its going to be a flat-out race to the finish, said one top adviser on Tuesday. Theres some countries where its going to be close.
For now the big anxiety among staff is less that Comeys intervention will change next Tuesdays result though they acknowledge this is considerably more possible than a week ago but that it will reduce chances of Democrat winning back control of Congress and hang like a cloud up her victory parade.
The same impeachment menace that dogged the second word of her husbands administration could wreck a first word in which she is forced to combat a Republican Congress even more polarised than that faced by Obama.
For now, the strategy is to attack the FBI and worry about the consequences later.
We are really simply focused on winning the election, Mook told reporters when asked if Clinton could ever work with Comey if elected.
In theory FBI directors are appointed for 10 -year terms to avoid precisely such political entanglements, but few would deny Comey is now already fully enmeshed in a row with the potential to damage the integrity of both offices of state.
Team Clinton is pressing hard for early answers, but increasingly resigned given the fact they are not able to come before Tuesday.
We are altogether confident that whenever this particular review of these emails is complete it will reinforce the conclusions from this summer and wont disclose anything new, replied Mook when pressed on whether this will drag on until the inauguration in January.
Some critics are less convinced the questions will go away so easily. Regardless of what secretary Clinton did or didnt do, says Doug Schoen, a Fox News commentator and former pollster for Bill Clinton who tells the questions has changed his support for Hillary Clinton. I am now convinced that we will be facing the very real potential of a constitutional crisis with many dimensions and deleterious outcomes should Secretary Clinton win the election.
It is a narrative eagerly pushed by the Republican campaign. She would be under protracted criminal investigation and probably war criminals trial, I would say. So wedded have a criminal trial of a sitting chairperson, Trump claimed at a rally in Michigan where he quoted Schoen.
But Trump is open to accusations of creating the potential for his own constitutional crisis too. He caused consternation among Republican politicians at the final presidential debate when he refused to say whether he would accept the result of the election if he loses.
Though there is as little evidence for Trumps vote-rigging claims as there currently is for his theory that Comey has determined a motherlode of new evidence against Clinton, both issues are firing up an already angry base to levels of suspicion not seen in US politics for decades.
Read more: www.theguardian.com