By Tafi Mhaka
America has serious trust issues to deal with.
As the Democratic Party Presidential nominee continues to lose support in the polls, what lessons can be drawn from the latest Wikileaks scandal that is threatening to derail Hillary Clinton’s campaign with 2 days to go before America decides who should become the most powerful woman or man in the world? The big lesson is: you can’t trust both candidates, frankly; and the big news is the election is going down to the wire: the latest BBC Presidential Opinion Poll has Clinton on 48% and Donald Trump on 46%.
The well of revelations from WikiLeaks has Clinton drowning in a sea of emails that reveal that the former secretary of state admitted she has “a public and a private position” on certain issues.
“If everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least,” said Clinton. “So, you need both a public and a private position.”
Thousands of hacked emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta reveal what Clinton said in paid speeches made to employees of Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and other Wall Street banks.
The former US Secretary of State, who earned about US$22 million on the paid speaking circuit, where she earned up to US$225 000 an appearance after she resigned from the Obama administration, also said she supports less regulation of the financial industry, but feigns support for tighter regulation of Wall Street firms in order to bolster her political aspirations.
She further said blaming the US banking industry for the 2008 financial crisis represented an “oversimplification” of the matter.
Surprisingly, Clinton said she doesn’t fully understand the daily struggles of middle-class and poor Americans, since she is far removed from their struggles.
“My father loved to complain about big business and big government, but we had a solid middle class upbringing,” she said in the remarks. “…And now, obviously, I’m kind of far removed because the life I’ve lived and the economic, you know, fortunes that my husband and I now enjoy, but I haven’t forgotten it.”
The trust issue began after the FBI discovered that, during her tenure as US Secretary of State, Clinton used a personal server and email address – email@example.com. The discovery of the cache of emails came about as the FBI was investigating Anthony Weiner, a former congressman, who was accused of sexting with a 15 year-old girl. Weiner had also been accused of sending lewd photographs of himself to as many as six women. He admitted as much at a press conference in 2015.
“I exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years”.
Weiner is married to Huma Mahmood Abedin, the Vice-Chairperson of the Clinton campaign. The FBI investigation fortuitously found Clinton had exchanged 62,320 personal and official emails with friends, family and different political actors over a four year period in a move the agency said was “extremely reckless. The Democratic Party nominee should have instead used a State Department email server and address.
Although an FBI investigation cleared Clinton of any criminal wrongdoing and she offered up a public apology for her error of judgement, her detractors and independent voters did not buy it: An ABC News/Washington Post national tracking poll which had Clinton leading by as much as 12% on the 23rd of October had her leading by 1% on the 30th of October.
This comes after FBI director James Comey said his agency had discovered more emails and wanted “to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation”. This move infuriated senior members of Democratic Party, who said this move by Director Comey amounted to political interference and tacit support for the Trump campaign and possibly a breach of the law.
“Your actions in recent months have demonstrated a disturbing double standard for the treatment of sensitive information, with what appears a clear intent to aid one political party over another,” said Senate Minority leader Harry Reid in a letter to Comey. “Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law.” Reid clearly does not trust Comey.
Nor does he trust Trump has the best interests of America at heart. Reid urged Comey to act on “explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government”.
The Clinton campaign launched a scathing attack on the FBI director too.
“It is impossible to view this as anything less than a blatant double standard,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said. He also called on Mr Comey to “immediately explain this incongruence and apply the same standard to Donald Trump’s associates as he has applied to Hillary Clinton’s.”
Clinton said Friday that “the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately. She urged the FBI to “explain this issue in question, whatever it is, without any delay.”
“Let’s get it out,” she said.
Podesta made it clear he believes Wikileaks cannot be trusted and said the Russian secret service is behind the discovery of the latest batch of emails to hound the campaign of the Democratic Party nominee but he did not question their authenticity.
“Earlier today, the US government removed any reasonable doubt that the Kremlin has weaponised WikiLeaks to meddle in our election and benefit Donald Trump’s candidacy,” Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin said in a statement Friday night. “We are not going to confirm the authenticity of stolen documents released by Julian Assange who has made no secret of his desire to damage Hillary Clinton.”
Wikileaks promptly hit back with accusations of it own in a series of tweets.
“No link between Trump & Russia No link between Assange & Russia But Podesta & Clinton involved in selling 20% of US uranium to Russia”.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who was granted asylum in the Ecuador Embassy in London, in 2012, has trust issues of his own to deal with: The Ecuador government cut off his internet access as it suspects he is trying to influence the outcome of the US Presidential election in support of Trump.
WikiLeaks tweeted: “Julian Assange’s internet link has been intentionally severed by a state party. We have activated the appropriate contingency plans.”
The trust issue dogs both Clinton and Trump.
“A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons,” Clinton said during her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in July.
Although voters do not trust her, they trust Trump far less it appears on a variety of issues of national importance.
An aggregated poll published by the Huffington Post in August shows voters trust Clinton more than Trump on health care, jobs, the economy, immigration, national security and terrorism.
But Trump is on record as saying he does not trust the 2016 Presidential election will be free and fair and the election will be rigged by Clinton supporters.
“And I’m telling you, November 8, we’d better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged,” the New York billionaire told Fox News host Sean Hannity in August. “And I hope the Republicans are watching closely or it’s going to be taken away from us.”
As the Presidential election draws closer, Trump has voiced his fears loud and clear on social media as well.
“Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day,” Trump tweeted in October. “Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!”
America has lots of trust issues to deal with next Tuesday. Among them: Should voters place their trust in a political lightweight? Should they trust a brash billionaire without a shred of moral decency? Or should they place their faith in a fairly seasoned politician besieged by trust issues?