The 2016 presidential campaign season continues to roll on. Here’s a look at the stories driving the news cycle on Oct. 18.
There are 20 days until the election.
Clinton under scrutiny for newly released FBI evidence
Fox News reported that recently released FBI evidence shows allegations of a “quid pro quo” arrangement between the FBI and state department, which means there could be at least four more hearings into the Hillary Clinton email scandal.
The issue surrounded Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy and the FBI “over at least one classified email,” asking that the email’s classification be changed in exchange for additional FBI slots for overseas missions, according to Fox News.
"This is a flashing red light of potential criminality," Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz said, according to Fox News.
“In return for altering the classification, the possibility of additional slots for the FBI at missions overseas was discussed,” Chaffetz said.
But the FBI feels differently about the issue, according to NPR. The FBI said this exchange happened after the bureau started to investigate Clinton. Apparently, the official wanted the FBI to look at one classified email to make sure it was still classified and whether or not it would be protected under public disclosure.
The FBI said the state department employee, Kennedy, wanted to know about a separate matter, too, which is why he asked about the employees getting stationed abroad.
"The FBI official asked the State Department official if they would address a pending, unaddressed FBI request for space for additional FBI employees assigned abroad," the FBI said in a statement.
Rigged election argument continues
Donald Trump’s argument that the 2016 election is rigged — thanks to a global conspiracy between Democrats, Republicans and the media — continues to make headlines.
“Donald Trump is warning that the election will be rigged. He has precisely zero evidence to back up that claim. But he has a remarkably receptive audience,” NPR reported. In fact, 30 percent of Americans feel that the votes won’t be counted accurately, as Trump suggests.
But NPR wants you to know that there’s very little chance the election will be rigged. After all, the states control the election booths and ballots. Similarly, election fraud is so rare, with 31 incidents occurring between 2000 and 2014.
Melania Trump finally speaks about Trump’s lewd comments
Melania Trump, wife of the GOP nominee, spoke on CNN Monday night about the leaked video tape that showed Trump and former NBC host Billy Bush making lewd and sexually aggressive comments about women, according to the New York Times.
In the interview with Anderson Cooper, Melania Trump said that the comments were “boy talk.” She went further to say Bush “egged” Trump into saying those comments back in 2005.
In response to all the women who have come out with allegations of sexual assault against the GOP nominee, Melania said the media has influenced the election, the Times reported.
“I believe my husband, I believe my husband — it was all organized from the opposition,” she said. “They can never check the background of these women. They don’t have any facts.”
Can McMullin win Idaho?
Recent Utah polls show independent candidate Evan McMullin gaining ground in the election. As I wrote yesterday, a new Rasmussen poll showed McMullin trailing Trump by just 1 percent in the Beehive State, 30 to 29 percent. McMullin is ahead of Clinton, who sits behind with 28 percent.
Still, media critics and political pundits are wondering how far "McMullinmania" can go. There’s been some discussion about whether the independent candidate can reach Idaho voters, some of whom are also Mormon and vote in similar ways to Utah.
In fact, one look at the battleground map shows that Arizona, Utah, and Nevada are all toss-ups.
One Idaho poll showed Trump’s lead over Clinton shrinking to just 10 points, per Idaho Politics Weekly. Of course, this poll was taken before the lewd comments tape leaked.
McMullin spoke to a crowd of more than 1,000 in Rexburg, Idaho, over the weekend. He plans to return to Idaho this week.
Kids pick Clinton
So it looks like the kids are not all right, but left. As USA Today reported, schoolchildren across the nation recently voted for Hillary Clinton to win the presidency in a nationwide mock presidential election. In fact, students voted Clinton over Trump 52 to 35 percent.
This sort of victory would give Clinton 436 electoral votes compared to Trump’s 99. A total of 270 electoral votes are necessary to win the presidential election.
Interestingly, third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein carried a combined 13 percent of the vote, which USA Today reported as “an unusually high percentage.” Bernie Sanders, who lost to Clinton in the Democratic primaries, also earned 1 percent. Johnson, Stein and Sanders all required a write-in ballot to earn votes, USA Today reported.
“They’re more popular than they have been in the past two or three elections,” Stephanie Smith, editorial director of Scholastic Newsmagazines for elementary school-aged children, told USA Today. “A lot of kids have parents who have been talking about not wanting either one of these candidates for president.”
Students have voted in the 13 contests since 1964. But teachers told USA Today that this year’s election has covered subject matter that’s been tough to talk to students about, like sexual assault, making it harder for them to teach.
“We’ve had a couple of teachers write us and say they feel so uncomfortable with the tenor of the election that they just don’t feel they can cover it,” Smith said.
Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.