Tuesday, October 17, 2017


This can't possibly happen, and just raising it as a possibility makes liberals seem like sinister coup-plotters. So why bring it up?
Sure, it's been more than 340 days since Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton, but there's still one very narrow, highly unlikely and entirely unprecedented way that Clinton could become president.

And it has some Democratic die-hards dreaming again.

Harvard University professor Lawrence Lessig offered a Clinton path to the presidency on Medium, putting forward a series of "if/then" scenarios that lead to House Speaker Paul Ryan handing the White House keys to Clinton.

Here's how constitutional law expert Lessig lays it out:

If number 1: If Trump is definitively found to have colluded directly with Russia, he would be forced to resign or be impeached.

If number 2: If Trump is removed, Vice President Mike Pence would become president.

If number 3: If Pence becomes president, he should resign too, given that he benefited from the same help from Mother Russia.

If number 4: If Pence resigns before appointing a vice president, Ryan would become president.

If number 5: If Ryan becomes president, he should do the right thing and choose Clinton for vice president. Then he should resign.
It's just crazy talk, right? But I wonder what we'd be talking about if the parties were reversed.

Imagine a 2016 election that ended the way the most optimistic Democrats thought it might: with a huge Hillary Clinton victory and a coattail effect that flipped the House and Senate. Now imagine -- and this is a stretch -- that it was Clinton who colluded with a foreign power to steal the election. Imagine a special counsel closing in on the truth and threatening her presidency.

What do you think the Republican leadership would be saying -- the same people who embraced the results of the 2016 and 2000 presidential elections without blinking, and who last year made up a rule saying that a president can be deprived of the opportunity to fill a Supreme Court vacancy for the sin of being in his last year of office?

I suspect they'd be arguing for just the kind of election-result nullification Lessig describes. They'd say Tim Kaine has no right to be president and neither does Nancy Pelosi. They'd probably propose exactly what Lessig proposes here, except for this bit:
... if Ryan did the right thing, that would be the most extraordinary event in the history of America since the Confederate Army fired on Fort Sumter. But unlike that, this event would build the union, not divide it. And if he did it, then Clinton should embrace the spirit of cross partisan decency and nominate Ryan, or a Republican, as her Vice President. At least for the balance of her first term, the frame of adults-behaving-like-adults could live.
There's no way Republican leaders would embrace the notion of Pelosi being rewarded for her voluntary surrender of the presidency by being named Donald Trump's vice president. They'd probably demand an investigation into the elections of whichever swing-state and swing-district Democrats flipped control of Congress. How much money did those candidates get from a treasonous Hillary Clinton and Democratic Party? We need to get to the bottom of this!

So, yes, what Lessig is proposing is far-fetched. But it would probably be a mainstream idea in the GOP if there were a mirror-image presidential scandal. Mainstream journalists would be expected to take the proposal seriously. And if it didn't happen, literally every act by surviving Democratic officeholders would be deemed illegitimate.

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