The Slatest

Today’s Trump Apocalypse Watch: How Much Should Clinton Supporters Be Panicking Right Now?

Hillary Clinton and Anthony Weiner (and former New York mayor Ed Koch) in Brooklyn on Oct. 31, 2000, when Clinton was running for Senate and Weiner was a congressman.

File/Reuters

The Trump Apocalypse Watch is a subjective daily estimate, using a scale of one to four horsemen, of how likely it is that Donald Trump will be elected president, thus triggering an apocalypse in which we all die.

Some stuff happened on Friday! Specifically, the FBI announced that it’s looking into some new emails related to the Hillary Clinton private email server investigation. Apparently the new emails being looked at weren’t sent by Hillary Clinton but were discovered during the underage-sexting investigation of her aide Huma Abedin’s estranged husband, Anthony Weiner.

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What does it mean for the election?

It means it just became a whole lot more annoying, for one thing: Prepare to listen to Donald Trump say the words “Crooked Hillary’s bleached emails” one thousand-plus times in the next 11 days, be prepared for media organizations to actually publicize when he says it, and be prepared for Republican surrogates to echo those charges—whatever they might mean—over and over and over again until Election Day. Beyond that, the odds that this latest break in Hillary Clinton’s longest running scandal of the election season could actually have an impact on the outcome of the race seems “slim to none.”

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First, there is not much actual information available about what the FBI is investigating. Director James Comey only revealed that the FBI had found new emails and that he had authorized the bureau to take “investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.” That doesn’t say who sent the emails, it doesn’t say what was in them, it doesn’t say anything really incriminatory whatsoever—just that the FBI is going to look at some more emails.

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Second, the information that has actually leaked out so far has been generally exculpatory of Clinton. For example, NBC’s excellent Justice Department reporter Pete Williams has sources telling him that the new emails were not sent by Clinton and had not been intentionally withheld from the FBI. That all sounds not so bad.

Third, this scandal has always been incredibly boring and difficult to untangle, there has never been anything resembling a smoking gun, and there continues not to be. Also, the FBI exonerated her in its initial investigation and until we learn something different, that is ultimately the result that counts. Whatever this latest move uncovers, that bottom line is unlikely to change in the next 11 days.

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All of that said: This was not a good day for Hillary Clinton or the world’s prospects of keeping the nuclear button out of the hands of Donald Trump. After a nosedive in the polls related to Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” scandal, Republican voters had already closed ranks around their nominee in the past week to a certain extent. This latest news will only serve to remind conservatives how much they hate Clinton and drive them further into the arms of Trump. Finally, Anthony Weiner is involved in this latest twist. Allegedly Knowingly Sexted with a High Schooler and Politically Poisonous Human Being Anthony Weiner. Clinton does not need her campaign affiliated with that person in the closing days of its campaign and it doesn’t need a media that has been deprived of Trump scandal narratives in the last week or so focused on this connection.

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Again, none of this on its own should be enough to affect the outcome of the election, but it might make things closer, potentially hurts Democrats down ballot, and opens the door for the whiff of the possibility that there will be a realer bombshell revelation yet to come.

All things considered, the danger level is back up to a full horseman.

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Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images, Wikimedia Commons

Read more Slate coverage of the 2016 campaign.

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