Hillary Clinton aims to put email saga behind her with closing message of hope

Hillary Clinton, left, accompanied by basketball player LeBron James, right, takes the stage at a rally at the Cleveland Public Auditorium in Cleveland. Picture by Andrew Harnik, Associated Press
Kathleen Hennessey and Lisa Lerer, Associated Press

HILLARY Clinton is attempting to emerge from the cloud of suspicion that has followed her presidential campaign and close her historic bid with a call for unity and hope.

But her Republican rival for the White House Donald Trump has vowed not to make it easy.

Hours after the FBI announced it had again cleared Mrs Clinton, Mr Trump and his campaign cast doubt on the legitimacy of the FBI's decision not to recommend charges in its investigation into her use of a private email server as US secretary of state.

The Trump campaign criticised the FBI probe, suggesting the latest rapid review of a Clinton aide's emails could not have been thorough.

"They've bungled the investigation from the beginning," Trump spokesman Jason Miller said on US broadcaster CNN. Mr Miller called for the FBI to release the newly-discovered emails belonging to aide Huma Adebin.

The comments were a reminder that FBI director James Comey's news, delivered in a letter to Congress on Sunday, was a doubled-edged sword for Mrs Clinton. While it vindicated her claims that the emails would not yield new evidence, it ensured that the final hours of her campaign would be spent talking about a subject that has damaged her credibility.

Mrs Clinton's campaign said yesterday the candidate would not be discussing the news as she campaigns in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

She instead, tried to end with a broader argument. Mrs Clinton, seeking to become America's first female president, cast herself as the candidate of "healing and reconciliation" – perhaps a surprising position for one of the most divisive figures in American politics.

She started her Sunday with a visit to an African-American church in Philadelphia, where she spoke of her candidacy in almost spiritual terms, as she tried to motivate black voters in the crucial swing state. And she ended with an evening rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, featuring remarks from Khizr Khan, the Muslim-American lawyer whose Army captain son was killed in Iraq.

"This election is a moment of reckoning," she told voters on Sunday night. "It is a choice between division and unity, between strong, steady leadership and a loose cannon who could put everything at risk."

Mr Trump, meanwhile, voiced new confidence as he brought his campaign – and his dark visions of a rigged American economic and political system – to Democratic strongholds.

"This is a whole different ballgame," Mr Trump said in Minneapolis, predicting victory in a state that has not voted Republican since 1972. At a rally in Virginia that Mr Trump called his "midnight special speech", the Republican called the race a "marathon".

"We are going to have one of the great victories of all time," he said, comparing the US election to the Brexit vote by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union "times 50".

Mr Trump continued to seize on the email issue, despite the FBI's finding.

"Hillary Clinton is guilty. She knows it, the FBI knows it, the people know," he said at a rally that drew thousands to an amphitheatre in the Detroit suburbs.

Mr Comey's move capped a stunning chapter in the bitter, deeply divisive contest. The director's initial decision to make a renewed inquiry into Mrs Clinton's emails public on October 28 upended the campaign at a crucial moment, sapping the surging momentum of Mrs Clinton and giving Mr Trump fresh ammunition to challenge her trustworthiness.

Mrs Clinton's campaign, furious at Mr Comey's handling of the review, welcomed Sunday's announcement, but Mrs Clinton did not mention the issue at her campaign events.

The new review involved material found on a computer belonging to Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former congressman and estranged husband of Ms Abedin, the Clinton aide. While Mr Comey was vague in his initial description of the inquiry, he said that the FBI reviewed communications "to or from Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state".

Mr Comey told Congress the FBI was not changing the conclusion it reached this summer. Then, Mr Comey said, "no reasonable prosecutor" would recommend Mrs Clinton face criminal charges.

The FBI began investigating the handling of classified material on Mrs Clinton's private email server shortly after she announced her bid in April 2015.

Mrs Clinton still appears to hold an edge over Mr Trump in the campaign's final stretch. The Republican has a narrow path to victory that requires him to win nearly all of the roughly dozen battleground states up for grabs. More than 41 million Americans have already cast their ballots in early voting.

Mrs Clinton's allies also fanned out across the country, including US President Barack Obama, who was joined by musical icon Stevie Wonder at a rally in Florida.

He was later to join Mrs Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama along with rock stars Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi at an evening rally in Philadelphia yesterday. She will also campaign in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Pittsburgh and Raleigh, North Carolina.

Mr Trump planned to keep up the breakneck campaign pace throughout today after voting in New York yesterday morning.

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