The Trump vs. McMullin battle for Utah spills into the open
It was only a matter of time, but the shadowboxing between Donald Trump and conservative rival Evan McMullin turned into a full-scale brawl Saturday.
Who is McMullin? The 40-year-old Republican-turned-independent is the face of the Never Trump movement; he announced his presidential candidacy in August and as a Mormon has built up a well of support in Utah, where he could very well stop Trump from winning a state that no Republican has lost in years.
Trump delivered the first blow, calling McMullin a “puppet” backed by prominent conservatives — namely, neoconservative commentator Bill Kristol.
“The guy takes votes away from me,” Trump complained during an interview alongside running mate Mike Pence on Fox News. “He’s a puppet of a loser.”
“Nobody ever heard of him,” Pence said.
Trump criticized McMullin for going from “coffee shop to coffee shop” trying to win votes.
McMullin, who stepped up for the long-shot run as part of a Republican effort to block Trump and launch a new conservative movement, fought back the way Trump knows best: a tweetstorm.
“Yes you’ve never heard of me because while you were harassing women at beauty pageants, I was fighting terrorists abroad,” McMullin, a former CIA operative who more recently worked on staff for House Republicans, tweeted late Saturday.
“You think you’re entitled to Utahns’ and other Americans’ votes. We’re earning them,” McMullin added.
Trump has struggled with Mormon voters, who make up 60% of the electorate in Utah, creating an opening for McMullin.
The Times’ Melanie Mason traveled to the Beehive State recently to more closely examine the state of play in the presidential race there.
The stars are coming out for Hillary Clinton, starting with Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony
Hillary Clinton’s warm-up act on the campaign trail is usually a local politician or supporter, but on Saturday night she had singers Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony pumping up a crowd of thousands.
Anthony described the election as a historic moment for Latinos, urging them to vote in record numbers.
“They will never mess with us again,” he said. “They will see us for the force that we are.”
When Lopez performed, political videos flashed on the screens behind her – rainbow flags, a white police officer hugging a black man, a clip from First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic convention. The crowd donned ponchos or huddled under umbrellas to stay dry from the occasional rain shower.
“Donald Trump is out there stoking fear, disgracing our democracy, and insulting one group of Americans after another,” Clinton told concert-goers. “Are we going to let Donald Trump get away with that?”
Saturday night’s show kicked off a star-studded stretch of the campaign for Clinton, with a new event in a battleground state every day for a week.
Ne-Yo is performing at a campaign event in Raleigh, N.C., on Tuesday, followed by The National in Cincinnati on Wednesday, Steve Akoi in Las Vegas on Thursday, Jay-Z in Cleveland on Friday and Katy Perry in Philadelphia on Nov. 5.
The concerts could help draw out the kind of voters Clinton needs to lock down, particularly millennials and minorities.
The line-up of stars backing Clinton is a also reminder of the large gap in cultural firepower between her and Republican nominee Donald Trump. While it’s not unusual for Hollywood and other big-name entertainers to line up behind Democrats, Clinton has been able to count on far more recognizable celebrities to help her campaign.
Besides the public concerts, singers like Elton John and Andra Day have performed at Clinton fundraisers.
Trump, meanwhile, has fallen short even of Mitt Romney’s experience in 2012. Instead of movie legend Clint Eastwood, who spoke at the Republican convention four years ago, Trump had Scott Baio, best known for his roles on “Happy Days” and “Charles in Charge,” sitcoms that went off the air decades ago.
Scenes from a Donald Trump rally in Phoenix, 10 days before the election
Democratic senators demand FBI release more information on Clinton email probe
Top Democrats want answers from FBI Director James Comey — now.
In a letter to Comey and Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch on Saturday, four Senate Democrats, including California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member on the Senate intelligence committee, wrote that more information must be made public in regard to the new investigation into emails that might be related to Hillary Clinton’s private server.
A day earlier, Comey wrote to lawmakers that the FBI was probing newfound emails that might be related to Clinton’s use of a private server while at the State Department. The timing of the announcement, less than two weeks before election day, concerned Democrats and Republicans alike, who called for more transparency.
“The letter is troubling because it is vaguely worded and leaves so many questions unanswered,” wrote the senators, who demanded more information by Monday.
“The letter is also troubling because it breaks with the longstanding tradition of Department of Justice and the FBI exercising extreme caution in the days leading up to an election, so as not to unfairly influence the results,” they said.
Indeed, the FBI and Justice Department rarely discuss details of ongoing investigations, and they are urged to avoid even the appearance of politically motivated investigations.
Comey’s announcement has sent shock waves through the presidential campaign.
Clinton’s campaign has also called on Comey to release more information.
Father of Kayla Mueller, the aid worker who was held hostage by Islamic State, says he voted for Trump
The father of slain American aid worker Kayla Mueller joined a Donald Trump rally here Saturday, taking the stage with a heartfelt endorsement from a parent seeking answers for the country after the loss of his daughter.
“It’s time for a change,” Carl Mueller told the big crowd at the Phoenix Convention Center.
“We cannot afford another four years of the same failed policies.... We need a leader who will take a stand, not follow the same tragic path,” he added, announcing that he had cast a ballot for Trump in early voting.
Mueller said he was just asked a day earlier to address the crowd, and wasn’t sure what to say.
But as he told of his daughter’s brutal captivity by Islamic State extremists in Syria and subsequent death, his frustration with the U.S. government resonated with the Trump supporters in the crowd.
Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton in USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll
With less than two weeks until election day, Donald Trump has a small lead over Hillary Clinton in the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times “Daybreak” poll.
Trump outpaces Clinton 46.2% to 43.8% among respondents.
The results do not reflect any impact of the FBI’s announcement on Friday that agents plan to review additional emails that may be related to Clinton. The poll lags several days behind news events.
The Daybreak poll has consistently shown better results for Trump than most other major surveys. Compared with other surveys, it more heavily represents the views of people who did not vote in 2012 but say they plan to vote this year -- a group among whom Trump does well. As a result, it probably represents a best-case scenario for the Republican nominee.
The poll tracks about 3,000 people each week through election day, asking on a regular basis about their support for Clinton, Trump or other candidates. The data is updated daily based on the weighted average of poll responses over the previous week.
An average of national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics shows Clinton ahead of Trump by 4.6 percentage points.
A re-weighted version of the Daybreak poll by Ernie Tedeschi, an economist in Washington, which uses the poll’s data but does not put as much emphasis on those who did not vote in 2012, has closely tracked the average. It currently shows Clinton with a lead of just over 3 percentage points.
The FBI director had a choice in the new Clinton email probe: Follow custom, or go public
He could either take the traditional approach of keeping mum or publicly explain his reasoning. A man unafraid of the spotlight, Comey decided to address the matter head-on, as he did again Friday in telling lawmakers that agents were reviewing newly discovered emails that may be pertinent to the investigation.
Comey, confidants say, wanted to maintain transparency in the face of multiple pressures: from both political parties and from agents, former agents and his bosses at the Justice Department. But by making such a move just 11 days before the election, he also has thrown the FBI under a glare as harsh as klieg lights and influenced a presidential race more deeply than the bureau ever has.
“He has been trying to thread this needle between keeping things close to the vest, like we typically do, and explaining matters to the public because this is such an unusual and public case,” said a colleague who requested anonymity to speak freely. “It is a really narrow window. And he would acknowledge it hasn’t always worked out the way he hoped. He was going to be damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t.”
Hillary Clinton calls FBI director’s announcement about newfound emails ‘deeply troubling’
Hillary Clinton sharply criticized FBI Director James Comey on Saturday, calling it “deeply troubling” for him to say he was looking into newly discovered emails related to her private server without detailing more information so close to the election.
“If you’re like me, you probably have a few questions about it,” Clinton told a crowd of 900 at a rally a day after Comey announced the new examination of emails.
“It is pretty strange to put something like that with so little information right before an election. It’s not just strange. It’s unprecedented, and it’s deeply troubling. Voters deserve to get the full and complete facts.”
Clinton’s supporters booed when she mentioned Comey’s letter to lawmakers informing them of the bureau’s new steps, and she urged voters not to lose sight of the what she called the campaign’s important issues.
“We can’t let this election in the last 10 days be about the noise and the distraction,” she said.
Multiple Clinton supporters have said they weren’t bothered that the FBI was reviewing additional emails that could be related to her private email server.
“I am beyond all of the politics that are going on around the campaign,” Debby Fadlevich, 65, of Ormond Beach. “I support her regardless.”
Fawn Russell, 62, already cast a ballot for Clinton during early voting, and when asked about the email probe, she said, “Oh, for Pete’s sakes.”
Russell said she agreed with what Clinton said on Friday.
“This email business has been out,” she said. “People have made their mind’s up.”
Donald Trump’s theories about the new emails don’t square with what we know so far
Donald Trump blew past a presidential-sounding message Saturday to launch a full-scale revival of unproved theories about Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Trump seized on FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the bureau was examining newly discovered emails for evidence that sensitive information was mishandled because Clinton used a private email server while secretary of State.
“Hillary has nobody to blame but herself,” Trump said to thousands packed for a midday rally at a livestock arena at Jeffco Fairgrounds in Colorado, as repeated chants of “lock her up!” arose from the crowd.
But he often went beyond what is publicly known about the FBI’s look at the newly found emails. Among his assertions:
“I think some of those 33,000 were captured yesterday.”
Trump was talking about the 33,000 emails deleted from Clinton’s private server that have never been recouped, and he suggested the FBI would not have returned to its investigation unless it had new evidence of wrongdoing. But officials have not announced the scope of their investigation, and of the emails reviewed so far, officials said, none was to or from Clinton.
“The Department of Justice is protecting Hillary.”
Trump referred to reports that Justice Department officials disagreed with Comey’s decision to notify Congress of its new review. Senior officials urged Comey not to disclose developments, according to two officials briefed on the matter.
“There are those who think when he was on the plane, that is what they discussed.”
Trump has long suggested a quid-pro-quo between the Clintons and Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch stemming from Bill Clinton’s meeting on the tarmac with Lynch as their planes idled at Phoenix airport earlier this year. No evidence of any such deal has emerged.
“This is what we mean when we call it a rigged system.”
As Trump’s standing slipped in the polls, he has increasingly questioned the integrity of the election — drawing criticism even from fellow Republicans.
Now, though he is shifting his message, saying what’s “rigged” is the Clintons and others receiving what he perceives as special treatment.
“I hope they haven’t given Huma immunity because she knows the real story.”
Top Clinton aide Huma Abedin has long been the subject of discussion on conservative websites and talk radio. Now, she is again at the center of the email investigation because of her husband, Anthony Weiner. The couple separated this year after the former congressman was again revealed to be sending sexually explicit text messages, this time to a 15-year-old, which led to the separate federal investigation that produced the new email inquiry. Trump was leaning onto theories that she has access to information about her boss.
“The emails that were on Anthony Weiner’s wherever.”
Trump was referring to the couple’s shared home computer. But his choice of words echoed his complaint after the first GOP primary debate in 2015 when he attacked moderator Megyn Kelly for being unfair to him, saying she had “blood coming out of her wherever.”
The comment was interpreted as Trump talking about Kelly having her period, although he denied it. But quip Saturday about Weiner’s predilection for sending photos of himself in his underwear to women seemed a knowing return to that phrase.
“This is the lowest point in the history of our country.”
Trump says the email scandal is on par with the Watergate corruption of the Nixon era. This is part of his campaign promise to “make America great again.”
Clinton campaign to FBI’s Comey: Now that you’ve opened the door on emails, reveal more
Hillary Clinton’s campaign tried to turn up the heat on FBI Director James Comey on Saturday, saying that he must give voters a fuller explanation of new emails that surfaced on an aide’s computer.
“He owes the public the full story, or he shouldn’t have cracked open the door in the first place,” campaign manager Robby Mook said in a phone call with reporters.
The latest emails were found on a computer that close Clinton aide Huma Abedin shared with her estranged husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner, law enforcement officials said. They surfaced during an unrelated investigation into sexually explicit texts sent by Weiner.
Comey, who announced in July that he had made the decision to close an investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of State, revealed on Friday that the bureau was reviewing new emails. He immediately drew a hail of criticism from Democrats about making such a disclosure just 11 days before the presidential election.
Law enforcement officials said the emails weren’t to or from Clinton, and appeared to be more of what agents already had; they said they felt the need to look at them more carefully in an abundance of caution.
“It’s entirely possible that all of the emails in question are just that, duplicates,” campaign chairman John Podesta said. “Even Director Comey said this may not be significant.”
Podesta said the campaign has not asked the White House to intervene and is not communicating privately with Comey.
The disclosure was the latest strange turn in an already unique presidential election. Mook said the news has rallied Clinton’s volunteers, who “know what a fighter she is.”
Podesta vowed the development wouldn’t take Clinton off her message and tried to downplay the announcement.
“We’re not going to be distracted, and Hillary is not going to be distracted in the final days of this election over nothing.”
Joe Biden on Anthony Weiner: ‘I’m not a big fan’
Vice President Joe Biden is not known to mince words, and he has an opinion about former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner.
“Well, oh, God, Anthony Weiner,” Biden, in an interview with CNN, said of Weiner, who is at the forefront of the presidential campaign with a little more than a week until election day.
“I should not comment on Anthony Weiner. I’m not a big fan. I wasn’t before he got in trouble,” Biden said.
On Friday, FBI Director James Comey announced the agency is again investigating emails that might be related to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server while she was secretary of State. Those emails come from a computer jointly used by Clinton aide Huma Abedin and Weiner, her estranged husband.
Officials came across the emails while investigating whether Weiner violated federal law when exchanging sexually explicit texts with a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina, according to a federal official.
Clinton, along with Democrats nationwide, have called on Comey to release more information as soon as possible with voters in several states already casting ballots.
And Biden, who is campaigning for Clinton in Nevada on Saturday, agrees.
“Hillary ... is correct: Release the emails. For the whole world to see,” Biden said.
Times staff writer Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this report.
Trump says many trade agreements are bad for Americans. The architects of NAFTA say he’s wrong
On Friday, some of the men who negotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement about 20 years ago came together to warn against dismissing these pacts.
Hillary Clinton is helping Senate candidates now so they can help her if she wins the White House
Hillary Clinton wanted to share her birthday with a special someone this week in Florida.
While Clinton has taken care to mention fellow Democrats on the campaign trail — she usually starts her events by rattling off names of local officials, stealing glances at a list to make sure she doesn’t miss anyone — she recently started fusing her stump speeches with full-throated pitches for her party’s Senate candidates.
The decision represents a new facet of Clinton’s push for the White House as she tries to boost candidates like Murphy, who is attempting to unseat Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. She appears to be looking for ways to plow past the obstructionism that has plagued President Obama, starting with a return to Democratic control of the Senate, and shoring up a base of support on Capitol Hill by helping Democrats get elected.
Opinion: Presidential politics has now become America’s obsession