Since Friday, various officials within the FBI and the Justice Department have let it be known that the investigation into Clinton has generated sharp divisions, with local FBI offices demanding a more aggressive investigation into Clinton’s alleged mishandling of classified information as well as a separate probe into allegations of corruption involving the multi-billion-dollar Clinton Foundation. This internecine conflict intensified after Comey announced last July that the investigation into Clinton’s emails was completed and no criminal charges would be brought.

With his letter to Congress, Comey intervened on the side of the faction calling for more aggressive action against Clinton. Justice Department officials have let it be known that they opposed Comey’s decision to make public, just 11 days before the November 8 election, the agency’s review of additional emails.

The Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign, along with former attorneys general, Republican as well as Democratic, have bitterly denounced Comey’s action. Harry Reid, the top Senate Democrat, sent a letter accusing Comey of violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from publicly acting in support of one or another candidate. At least one Democratic congressman has demanded that the FBI chief immediately resign.

Only a few weeks ago, Clinton and the Democratic Party were indignantly denouncing Trump’s charges that the election was rigged. Such charges, they claimed, were an unpatriotic slur on the pristine character of US elections and American democracy. Now, under changed circumstances, it is they who are shouting foul and accusing the FBI of trying to rig the vote against them.

In fact, both factions of the ruling class have utilized the methods of scandal-mongering to fight out their battles. Over the past several months, the Democrats have centered their campaign against Trump on sex scandals and neo-McCarthyite, manufactured claims that Trump is a proxy of the Kremlin. In his letter to Comey, Reid doubled down on these charges by accusing the FBI of refusing to make public “explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government—a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States…”

Trump, for his part, had pointed to the pro-Clinton bias of the media, denounced the failure of the FBI to prosecute Clinton, and made thinly veiled appeals to anti-immigrant and racist sentiment by charging that Election Day would see systematic ballot-stuffing in predominantly immigrant and minority communities.

In fact, the entire election is a mockery of genuine democracy. Neither of the parties can offer any policies to address the real concerns of working people. Mud-slinging and scandal-mongering are used to bury the burning issues of war, social inequality and attacks on democratic rights.

The latest turn in the presidential race underscores the reactionary basis on which Clinton and the Democrats have conducted their campaign. They have sought to oppose the fascistic Trump from the right, seeking to win the support of Republican leaders and voters as well as the military/intelligence establishment by promoting Clinton’s credentials as an advocate of military intervention, while declaring Trump unfit to serve as commander in chief.

Their barely disguised indifference to the plight of workers and lack of support within the working class have made them highly vulnerable to the machinations of pro-Trump forces within the state.

These developments have also underscored the treacherous role of Bernie Sanders. Having won mass support in the working class and among young people by portraying himself as a socialist and opponent of the “billionaire class,” he has sought to use his influence to channel social opposition back behind the Democratic Party and the campaign of Clinton, the favored candidate of Wall Street. He has thereby played a critical role in preempting and blocking the emergence of an independent political movement of the working class.