Outside influences in the US election
The US 2016 election has attracted several unconventional forces that could possibly impact the election result. Here are some of the extraordinary influences that may have dramatically changed voters’ perceptions of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
FBI and private email server
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) cleared Clinton of any criminal wrongdoing on Sunday. Clinton was being re-investigated into her use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of the State from 2009 to 2013. A total of about 30,000 emails that were handed over by Clinton to the FBI were investigated for a breach of conduct earlier this year. While the FBI, initially criticised her but fell short of filing criminal charges against her in July, a fresh set of emails were discovered last week on a device belonging to Anthony Weiner, the husband of one of Clinton’s top aides.
The discovery came as Weiner’s devices were investigated in a separate case for ‘sexting’ a minor girl. Clinton previously had a comfortable lead over her rival candidate, but news of the reinvestigation had made both candidates neck-to-neck in key swing states.
“Based on our review we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with regard to Secretary Clinton,” FBI director James Comey said in a letter to lawmakers on Sunday.
Trump’s sex allegations
But it was sex allegations made about Trump that caused global outrage for the way he objectifies women. The Washington Post posted a video on 8 October that showed Trump having a lewd conversation with the then co-host Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” in 2005. In the video, Trump revealed how he failed in his attempt to have sex with a married woman shortly after he married his current wife Melania. The revelations led more than 50 Republican officials to either retract their endorsement of him or fall short of endorsing him.
“And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump said in the video. “You can do anything.” Several women came out of the closet and made fresh sex allegations about Trump as a result of the leaked recording.
DNC Email Hack and Wikileaks
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) faced multiple hacks throughout the year. Non-profit organisation Wikileaks published about 19,000 emails, and 9,000 attachments from the DNC hacks, Wikileaks said in a statement in July. The emails dated back to January up until May this year. Although, a lone hacker, Guccifer 2.0, was responsible for the attacks, Clinton supporters, as well as several analysts formally blamed Russia.
Additionally, the whistleblowing organisation last month published a fresh set of leaked emails documents from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s account. The new set of stolen emails indicated lucrative speeches delivered by Clinton to Wall Street – conflicts of interest with the Clinton Foundation among other confidential exchanges.
Additionally, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange who is taking asylum in London’s Ecuadorian embassy had his internet cut off, as Ecuador tried to distance its image as an intruder in the election.
“The government of Ecuador represents the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states. It does not interfere in certain electoral processes nor does it favour any particular candidate,” a statement by the country’s foreign ministry said.