Dropping the big one

With more polls showing her grip on the race loosening, Hillary Clinton went nuclear on Donald Trump.

Clinton sought to portray Trump as flippant and uneducated about the seriousness of nuclear weapons, and whose “hair-trigger temper” could lead to catastrophe.

“I’m running against a man who says he doesn’t understand why we can’t use nuclear weapons. He wants more countries to have nuclear weapons,” Clinton said at Kent State University in Ohio.

She also said Trump acted as a “puppet” for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Before pivoting to Trump, Clinton addressed the disclosure Friday about the FBI looking for new emails that could be related to her use of a private server while secretary of state.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

“I am sure they will reach the same conclusion they did when they looked at my emails for the last year,” Clinton said.

Read Yancey Roy’s story for Newsday.

Speed reading

FBI agents are using filtering software to pluck whatever emails may be relevant to the investigation of Clinton’s private email server while secretary of state from the laptop used by her aide Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner — Abedin’s now-estranged husband.

Only a fraction of the 650,000 emails on the computer — originally seized in a sexting investigation against Weiner — are believed to fit that definition.

The Justice Department wrote to Democratic lawmakers that it was working “as expeditiously as possible,” but it wasn’t known whether officials will have more to say before Election Day.

Donald ducked debt declaration 

Trump's lawyers in the 1990's warned of risks in a certain IRS gambit that he apparently used. The move would have enabled him to avoid paying taxes when creditors forgave debts incurred by his slumping casino business.

Legal experts described this move as an extreme stretch of the law in interviews with the New York Times, which cited documents turned up in a search of casino bankruptcy filings. With Trump refusing to release tax forms, this may explain how he was able to avoid millions of dollars in payments to the IRS.  

Trump: Scandals never end

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Hammering away at Clinton, Trump on Monday said her “corruption is a threat to democracy” and “She’s likely to be under investigation for criminality for a long time to come.”

Campaigning in Michigan, where Clinton has maintained a lead in polls, Trump promised to return jobs to a region rocked by auto industry restructuring. “The long nightmare of jobs leaving Michigan will be coming to an end,” he said.

See Emily Ngo’s story for Newsday.

State of the race

For the first time since May, a  Washington Post - ABC News tracking poll showed Clinton slipping a point behind Trump, 46-45 percent, with Democratic enthusiasm waning. 

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Earlier surveys had showed her position holding. NBC News/Survey Monkey survey showed Clinton’s lead at 6 points, with no change in the portion conducted after the news broke.

On Monday, the Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll showed a 1-point Clinton edge. A Morning Consult survey put Clinton 3 points ahead, with no change from the FBI news.

GOP pollster Ed Goeas and Steve Schmidt, the top strategist for Republican John McCain’s 2008 campaign, told Politico that Clinton is still the favorite, with the advantage in money, ground game and the Electoral College map, where 270 votes are needed to clinch.

“She was knocking on 400 electoral votes; that’s going to slide back,” Schmidt said. “But there is an overwhelming likelihood she’ll be the next president.”

The take-away: Comey 180

FBI Director James Comey has morphed from the top lawman vilified by Republicans and hailed by Democrats into the top lawman blasted by Democrats and defended by Republicans.

Comey isn’t the only public figure whose good-guy/bad-guy status changed based on who he was or was not pursuing. There’s also Julian Assange, the Australian WikiLeaks hack-trafficker. See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.

A White House pass

President Barack Obama regards Comey as a man of “integrity and good character” and does not believe he was attempting to influence the election, press secretary Josh Earnest said.

But Earnest would neither “defend nor criticize” the decision to go public with the email investigation. Others did, spilling across partisan lines.

Former Bush administration Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Comey may have made an “error in judgment.” Former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder circulated a letter from nearly 100 former Justice officials saying Comey’s action “leaves us both astonished and perplexed.”

But Trump is pleased. “It took a lot of guts,” he said.

The Clinton camp, in turn, blasted Comey's decision as showing "a blatant double standard" given other federal agencies' alleging Russian involvement in hacking  Democratic emails. At the same time, it was reported that the business dealings of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort are drawing a preliminary FBI review.

WikiLeaks trips up Brazile

For the second time, a WikiLeaks hacked email from the Clinton campaign showed Donna Brazile, then a CNN contributor, passing along in advance a question that was to be posed to Clinton at a primary-season faceoff with Bernie Sanders.

CNN revealed Monday that Brazile, who now heads the Democratic National Committee, resigned from the network two weeks ago, and said it was “completely uncomfortable” with what it learned about her.

CNN maintained Brazile was never given access to any questions, preparation material or list of people attending any presidential forum in advance, leaving it unclear where she got her information.

What else is happening

  • Newsday’s 2016 voters guide is now online, with profiles of every candidate and proposition on Long Island ballots.
  • Trump’s chances are looking better in Florida, but he would need to erase stronger Clinton leads in several other states to have a real chance, The Washington Post says.
  • In a 2009 radio interview uncovered by CNN, Trump claimed he did not vote for President George W. Bush. Four years earlier, in an interview on Fox News, Trump said the exact opposite: that he did vote Bush.
  • John Podesta got paid a $7,000 a month under contract with the foundation of a top Clinton donor who made a pile selling adjustable-rate mortgages, according to hacked Wilileaks materials. 
  • Another Trump contractor is fighting him over an unpaid bill. The campaign is disputing nearly $767,000 that GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio’s firm says it is still owed for polling, The Washington Post reports. It did receive $624,000 in September.
  • FBI agents argued earlier this year that they wanted to investigate the Clinton foundation over whether donors got political access and favors, but the Justice Department public integrity unit decided there was not enough evidence to go ahead, The Washington Post reported.
  • Voter interviews in Garden City, a reliably Republican village, find some still torn between Trump and Clinton. “I go to bed at night anxious about both of them,” said one GOP voter. “I wake up refreshed, then I get anxious all over again.” See Carol Polsky’s story for Newsday.
  • Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) told volunteers at a private event that gun owners may want to put a “bull’s-eye” on Clinton, according to audio obtained by CNN. Burr said Monday: “The comment I made was inappropriate, and I apologize for it.”
  • Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who refused to endorse Trump, said he wrote in McCain on his absentee ballot.