Lowlights from an American election that set a new standard for scandal

Donald Trump takes a break from speaking to compare his face to a mask during a rally at the Sarasota Fairgrounds in Sarasota, Fla., on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016. Trump spotted the mask in the crowd, and had it passed up to him.
Image Credit: Loren Elliott/The Tampa Bay Times via AP

WASHINGTON - A big U.S. election controversy used to involve revelations of an old affair or a drunk-driving allegation. Al Gore caused a small one by rolling his eyes during a televised leaders' debate in 2000.

Those standards have been obliterated by a campaign filled with eye-popping moments. Here are just a few:

Mexican-bashing. In his first campaign speech, Donald Trump said of Mexicans in the U.S.: ''When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best.... They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people." Later in the campaign, he questioned the credentials of a judge of Mexican heritage, overseeing a case against Trump University.

Muslim-banning. His campaign called for a temporary, "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." He's walked it back, to a large extent. He also took a dig at the Muslim family of a dead soldier. He used Islam as a slur on the president, suggesting Barack Obama would have attended Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's funeral if it were held in a mosque.

The FBI primary. A turf war erupted in the FBI, with one faction eager to escalate a corruption investigation against the Clinton Foundation, and another insisting it was a dead end that needed to be shut down. The former leaked details to the media. Director James Comey tried to split the difference. Twice during the campaign, he exonerated Clinton — after publicly casting doubt upon her.

Clinton's conflicts. Many conflict-of-interest stories emerged about the Clinton Foundation. For example, foundation donors were likelier to get face time with Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state; a bank with an interest in the Keystone XL pipeline paid her husband handsomely for speeches while she handled the file.

Trump's businesses. Trump opponents tried flagging scandals with his business, with little success. Sen. Ted Cruz referred to construction contacts in the Mafia. Democrats pointed to his history of stiffing creditors. Trump campaigned against illegal immigration — but hired illegal Polish workers, made them work in unsafe conditions, then resisted paying them. Trump's charitable foundation and his defunct Trump University now face state-level probes.

Vote-rigging talk. In a debate, Trump refused to say whether he'd accept the election result. Trump kept saying the election was rigged and frequently used coded language to suggest he was referring to cheating in minority neighbourhoods.

Russia. The Putin government was accused by American intelligence of meddling in the election. Thousands of emails from Democratic party officials kept appearing on Wikileaks. They caused rifts within the party, forced the resignation of its chair and highlighted coziness with media members. Trump pleaded at one point, apparently in jest, for the Russians to leak damaging material about his opponent.

Trump's taxes. Trump is the first major presidential candidate in decades not to release his income-tax returns. When pressed about a report he avoided taxes for years, he called it smart business.

Shooting Americans. Trump joked he could walk down the street, shoot someone, and not lose votes.

Anger. Undercover video suggested Democratic allies fomented some of it, sending agitators to Republican rallies. Trump played a role, too, regularly ranting at the media and protesters during his rallies, and his supporters joined in.

Insults of the body and soul. In an addition to retweeting a message about Ted Cruz's wife being ugly, and suggesting his dad was involved in the JFK assassination, he questioned his faith. He asked how Cruz could be an evangelical, if he's Cuban. He ridiculed Cruz for being born in Canada. He raised Ben Carson's Seventh-day Adventist faith, saying, "I'm Presbyterian... Seventh-day Adventist, I don't know about. I just don't know about." He made similar remarks about Clinton.

KKK. Trump disavowed the support of Ku Klux Klansman David Duke, though it involved some prodding. The racist group recently published a full-page endorsement of Trump.

The video. Old video surfaced where Trump joked about being able to grab women by the genitals, and get away with it because he's famous. His ongoing trouble with female voters were compounded when he got into a multi-day feud with a former Miss Universe whose weight he'd insulted.

Sexual assault. Both campaigns were rocked by allegations. Numerous women said Trump had groped them. In return, Trump invited three women to a debate who'd accused Bill Clinton of unwanted advances or rape. Trump allies got protesters to show up at Democratic events with T-shirts calling the former president a rapist.

Affairs. Several women accused Trump of advances while he was married. Last weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported that a tabloid owned by a Trump friend paid a woman for her story about an affair, then sat on it.

ALBAS: Income tax season is upon us
  OPINION This week’s report is a reminder that in a little over a month, April 30, the majority of Canadians need to complete and file their 2017 Canada Income Tax returns to avoid potential late penalties.

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