Hillary Clinton Won’t Rule Out Challenging The Legitimacy Of The 2016 Election
Some more interesting post-election commentary from Hillary Clinton.
In a new interview, Hillary Clinton says she won’t rule out questioning the legitimacy of the outcome of the Presidential election:
Democrat Hillary Clinton refused to rule out challenging the legitimacy of last year’s presidential election in an interview released Monday afternoon, though she said such a move would be unprecedented and legally questionable.
“I don’t know if there’s any legal constitutional way to do that. I think you can raise questions,” Clinton told NPR’s Terry Gross during an extended interview on “Fresh Air,” before pivoting to criticism of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric regarding Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 race.
Gross quickly returned to her initial question, asking if Clinton would “completely rule out questioning the legitimacy of this election if we learn that the Russian interference in the election is even deeper than we know now?”
“No. I would not,” Clinton said.
Gross followed up again, replying “you’re not going to rule it out.” “No, I wouldn’t rule it out,” Clinton said.
But the former secretary of state said she does not believe that there is any path for such a challenge and that academics who argue one exists are not on “strong ground” legally. “I just don’t think we have a mechanism” for a challenge of the 2016 election’s legitimacy, she said.
CNN has more on Clinton’s comments:
Hillary Clinton, in an interview that aired Monday on NPR, said she “would not” rule out questioning the legitimacy of the 2016 election if Russian interference is deeper than currently known.
The comment, a remarkable step for the former Democratic nominee, exemplifies Clinton’s belief that President Donald Trump and his campaign could have knowingly received help from Russian operatives in the 2016 election.
Clinton has said previously that she conceded to Trump quickly and attended his inauguration because the nation’s peaceful transfer of power is critical. But her comments to NPR signal that as the depths of Russia’s interference are revealed she could envision a time when she questions Trump’s legitimacy as president.
NPR’s Terry Gross asked Clinton directly during the interview whether she would “completely rule out questioning the legitimacy of this election if we learn that the Russian interference in the election is even deeper than we know now?”
“No. I would not,” Clinton said.
Gross asked: “You’re not going to rule it out?”
“No,” Clinton said. “I wouldn’t rule it out.”
Clinton is in the midst of a media blitz to promote her new memoir, “What Happened,” a reflection on her stunning loss in the 2016 election and diagnostic for the Democratic Party going forward. The subsequent book tour has thrust Clinton back into the public eye after months largely out of the news.
In the book, Clinton casts Trump as a toxic but hapless leader who won the White House by preying on the nation’s fears. Nowhere in the book, however, does she directly question his legitimacy, although she certainly comes close in the 500-page memoir.
Glen Caplin, a spokesman for Hillary Clinton, reiterated in a statement after the interview aired that the former secretary of state “has said repeatedly the results of the election are over but we have to learn what happened.”
“I would hope anyone in America concerned about the integrity of our democracy would feel the same way if we got there. But we’re not,” Caplin said. “Right now Bob Mueller and several congressional committees are investigating to what extent the Russians impacted our election and who exactly helped them do so.”
Clinton, in her interview with Gross, adds that there are likely no avenues, however, for her to challenge the 2016 results if she feels she needs to.
“Basically I don’t believe there are. There are scholars, academics, who have arguments that it would be, but I don’t think they’re on strong ground,” she told Gross. “But people are making those arguments. I just don’t think we have a mechanism.”
Clinton also mentioned that the Kenyan Supreme Court overturned their recent presidential election and ordered a new vote.
“What happened in Kenya, which I’m only beginning to delve into, is that the Supreme Court there said there are so many really unanswered and problematic questions, we’re going to throw the election out and redo it,” Clinton said. “We have no such provision in our country. And usually we don’t need it.”
Clinton’s comments are sure to further Trump’s deeply held belief that investigations into Russia — and Democrats’ calls for further pressure on the White House — are nothing more than the left’s attempts to rewrite the 2016 election and make up for Clinton’s loss.
Here’s the full interview for anyone interested in listening to it:
From the top, it’s important to note that Clinton is not saying that she’s exploring legal options to overturn the election results, and in fact, she basically rules this option out. Notwithstanding that fact, it seems likely that Trump and his supporters and some Trump opponents are likely to latch onto these comments to continue the ongoing relitigation of the outcome of the election that seems to show no signs of ending. In Trump’s case, there isn’t a week that has gone by since he entered office when he hasn’t brought up the outcome of the election or Hillary Clinton herself, usually on social media or in the campaign rally speeches that he continues to hold across the country even though the election has been over for some ten months now. Trump clearly remains obsessed with Clinton and continues to refer to her as “Crooked Hillary” on his Twitter feed. On the other side, there are Clinton supporters who clearly remain bitter over the outcome of the election. This has included several people, most of whom obviously have no idea how elections, the law, or the Constitution work, asserting that there would be some legal means by which the results of the 2016 election.
The reality, of course, is that there are no legal means to overturn the results of the election. Even if it were proven that Russian interference had a demonstrable and measurable impact on the outcome and/or that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials that the President was aware of at the time or that he became aware of and has since tried to cover up, that would not be sufficient grounds to do so. Under American law, the only way to deal with such a situation would be via impeachment and removal from office. If that happened, then Vice-President Pence would become the 46th President of the United States and the nation would proceed forward to the next election in 2020. And if it were proven that Pence was somehow involved in all of this, which seems unlikely, then he too could be impeached and removed. In that case, either Paul Ryan would become President or the person who Pence selected as a new Vice-President would become President, provided that person was confirmed by Congress as provided by Section Two of the 25th Amendment. In the event those people are somehow removed from office, the process would continue further down the Presidential Line of Succession. There is no provision in the law for a “redo” of the election, or for the person who lost the Electoral College vote to become President after the election outcome is certified by Congress as required by the Constitution. As far as the law and the Constitution are concerned, though, there is no legal basis for challenging the outcome of the election, demanding a “redo” of the election, or removing a sitting President and putting the losing candidate in his place.
To be fair to Clinton, it seems clear that she isn’t talking about that kind of scenario, but that doesn’t make her comments any less interesting.
It’s fairly uncommon for a losing candidate to openly question the legitimacy the outcome of an election, especially in recent American history even in cases where there was arguably a factual basis to do so. When he lost the 1960 Presidential election to John F. Kennedy under circumstances that included fairly strong evidence of questionable voting in Illinois and Texas, Richard Nixon made the decision not to question the outcome of the election and was largely successful in getting his fellow Republicans to follow along. The same thing happened in 2000 after the Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore when it became apparent that any future recounts in Florida would be fruitless in finding enough votes to tip that state into Gore’s column. Despite all the controversy that erupted after the election, as well as the litigation at the state and Federal level, Gore responded to the Supreme Court decision by conceding the election and, with the exception of a few comments in the time since then, Gore has not talked publicly about the election and he hasn’t questioned the outcome of the 2000 election. Clint0n would break a recent historical trend if she openly started questioning the legitimacy of Trump’s Presidency, which is basically what her response implied.
I think when discussing this topic it is important to distinguish sharply between questioning the legal validity of the election and questioning the legitimacy of the election. They are very different things.
If it were to turn out that Russia had a larger, more active role than is generally suspected, for example, I think that would strongly undermine the legitimacy of Trump’s election — but would probably not affect its legal validity at all. Many other intermediate scenarios also spring to mind, in which the legitimacy of the election is undermined but its legal standing is not.
As for comparing to prior disputes, this would be the first time it was an external foreign power. that seems to be distinction enough….
I disagree. Here’s what he said in a 2002 interview:
This is at the very least implicitly questioning the legitimacy of the results.
Please Hillary, go away. Irrespective of Russian involvement, Trump collusion or some undiscovered pro-Trump election fraud, the 2016 election is done. If Congress decides to impeach and convict Trump, Mike Pence will be prez.
@Sleeping Dog:..Please Hillary, go away.
She has as much right to promote her views as you do to post your opinion here at OTB. Go back to sleep.
Democrats can endlessly replay 2016 or focus on the mid terms and 2020, I’d prefer the latter. It’s time to move on from Hillary and find a fresh group of presidential candidates to choose from.
IIRC there was an unofficial recount by a press consortium. It found that had all ballots been recounted under a uniform standard, any of about six uniform standards they tried, Gore would have won by a small margin. So Gore’s statement is far from just sour apples. Even if you ignore all the ratfwcking Gov Little Jebbie and his corrupt SoS did prior to the election. And the manipulation of the supposedly sacred military absentee ballots.
Does anyone honestly believe that if the situation was reversed that
Republicans would not utilize every method and avenue of challenge available to them in order to overturn the result?
Yes, but the would eventually concede as they did with the 2008 Minnesota Senate election.
Honestly? I think she’s trolling Trump a bit. You know and she knows that he’s going to go non-linear about this as will the Trumpaloos.
Democrats working to win mid terms in 2018 and to field a viable President USA candidate for 2020 is a good idea.
Whining about Hillary Clinton is a waste of time and energy and may be counterproductive.
She did win the popular vote. Democrats will need those electors to succeed.
Republicans accept pretty much every wacky thing that comes out of President Trump’s mouth or through his twitter feed as the gospel truth, so I really wish Democrats would continue to say outrageous things, true or not. Reid was good at playing that game and not backing down…didn’t he tar his opponent by saying something that was never proven to be true (Reid was Trump before Trump was Trump…some people are saying…)?
It sounds like Clinton is waking up to the fact that just saying crazy things, lies, making shi…I mean stuff up will not hurt her, the haters will hate and then there is everyone else. If she wants to fight fire with fire…good for her.
Since there is no precedent in the train wreckage that is the Trump Presidency to date, I don’t think it should be at all startling that Clinton would break recent historical trends by raising questions.
NONE of this is normal, nor should it be seen to be.
If found in question, it will not unseat our current president, but it will hinder his belief in his having any type of mandate.
Look at it this way: Following the elections in question in Florida, Gore accepted the ruling of the Supreme Court. In doing so, he kept the stability of the American system.
And how was he rewarded? As an elder statesman? No, more the butt of jokes for any sneering republican.
Ask most republicans who Gore is, and their response will be some fool that “invented” the internet.
We have not seen any attempt for our current president to be the president of these United States, but more the president of his twitter follows, guided by what be believes (incorrectly) are his TV ratings.
He should realize that fraud put him in office, as befitting the fraud that he is.
@gVOR08: I did note earlier today in a different thread that Gore “essentially won the election in every meaningful sense other than that he wasn’t the one in the White House at the end.” My point in this thread is that Gore very much agrees with this interpretation, if you actually listen to his comments in the years since. Gore took a conciliatory tone, urging his supporters to move on and to accept Bush as the president. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t question the legitimacy of the results; he most certainly did.
And he had every right to. One of the things I couldn’t stand last year, in the press reaction to Trump’s public remarks refusing to say whether he’d accept election results that showed him being defeated, there was an implication that there was something inherently wrong with ever questioning election results. As Jonathan Chait noted at the time:
Or as I said at the time, “I agree that groundlessly attacking the legitimacy of election results is damaging to democracy. But you know what’s even more damaging to democracy? Actual illegitimate election results.
@Liberal Capitalist: Ask most republicans who Gore is, and their response will be some fool that “invented” the internet.
But of course never said anything like that, what he said was:
During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.
And I believe this is relative:
But a spirited defense of Gore’s statement penned by Internet pioneers Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf (the latter often referred to as the “father of the Internet”) in 2000 noted that “Al Gore was the first political leader to recognize the importance of the Internet and to promote and support its development” and that “No other elected official, to our knowledge, has made a greater contribution [to the Internet] over a longer period of time”:
If Gore was like Trump, he would have claimed that he, alone, personally invented the internet, and while he was at it, Facebook, Twitter, and all other sites.
I love it when so many people imply that Democrats should play fair and never, ever act irresponsibly but when Republicans constantly play dirty and act bat$hit insane, there is some initial criticism but then there’s just a collective shrug with the implication being, oh well, that’s just who they are…and this idea that Hillary should just shut up and go away is getting really old…as someone else wrote…
And that, as one of Shakespeare’s characters said, is the rub.
Beyond that, Hillary’s comment today is the bone to the “not my president” camp among Dems and Liberals at large. In much the same way as silence, rather than repudiation, of birther nonsense was the bone that the GOP threw to its cohort of “not my president” types and overt racist bigots in its camp for 8 years. Ya gotta give the madding throng what it wants. Keeps hope alive so they won’t desert the party.
Exclusive: US government wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman
Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment
The latter might just have been to scare Manfort, but the former…you don’t get a FISA order against a US person without some very significant evidentiary support.
Remember what Harry Reid wrote to then-Director Comey in late October:
I have no doubt Mueller has whatever this passage refers to.
Things may be about to get a lot more…interesting.
And if this CNN news doesn’t prove fake, then it means Trump was right when he said the Obama administration was wiretapping his campaign.
Every losing Presidential Candidate is going to re-litigate the election results forever. Even to this day and age Michael Dukakis can be caught saying that he should have responded to the Willy Horton ads earlier.
On the other hand, Hillary is relitigating the results of election in the same way that she ran her campaign, no wonder there is a strong negative reaction to her when she is doing that.
The only significance to this is that it again illustrates the hysteria over Trump trashing this or that “norm.” It was a quarter-century of norm-trashing by our elites that made Trump’s election possible in the first place.
It was a quarter-century of norm-trashing by our elites…
Help us out Bungles. Tell us all what “norms” you are talking about that so called “elites” have been trashing for twenty five years.
Names, dates, and places please.
@Kylopod: IIRC, had the recounts in Florida been done in accordance with a state law that required that efforts must be made to ascertain the voter’s intention before discarding a ballot, Gore might well have gotten a majority. Again (and my recollection is uncertain), “overvotes” (such as where a voter tried to correct a vote for Buchanan and cast a vote for Gore) which were discarded might have changed the final outcome.
Which of course is not at all what Trump said. He specifically said that Trump Tower was wiretapped.
You may get away with this sloppiness over on Reddit’s The_Donald or Alex Jones’ cesspool, but not around here.
@JKB: Of course as @Tony W states, that’s not what Trump actually said.
As it stands, we do know for certain Trump hired as his campaign chairman someone so filthy with Russia that he’d already been the subject of a FISA warrant, and whose conduct during the campaign was such that probable cause existed he was illegally acting as an agent of a foreign power and therefore became the subject of a second FISA warrant.
So, even if you were correct about what Trump said, would it really be the kind of “I told you so” you want? “See, I told you the Trump campaign had people in it whose conduct rose to probable cause!”
Yes, a lot like how the result of the first couple of hearings and investigations into Benghazi caused Republicans to pause and move on to other governing responsibilities.
When did we decide that 62 million voters constitute an ‘elite?’
Paul Manafort’s private business office was in Trump Tower so if they were tapping him, they tapped the wires in Trump Tower.
Well, that’s terrible. If they had probable cause of an illegal act by a US citizen, they should have gotten a criminal warrant. FISA warrants are for intelligence purposes and the information is not collected in a manner to be used in prosecution.
And if it was a FISA warrant, the corrupt Valerie Jarrett and Susan Rice could have gotten access to the information collected as intelligence product. Was there illegal collusion and criminal funneling of information learned to the Hillary campaign?
Like the one they had when they raided his house?
Of course there’s a bunch of other methods that wouldn’t have touched anything in Trump Tower, so you’re wrong here, too.
And just so we’re clear on what Manafort being the subject of a FISA warrant means, there had to be probable cause that Manafort’s conduct fulfilled one or more of the following conditions:
Pretty sure it’s not C or D, so it had to be A and/or B and/or E.
No wonder the Trumpist fools like JKB are trying to spin away from this.
I wonder, its hard to believe the old USSR wasn’t actively doing its best to interfere in previous elections (and vice-versa of course).
And Germany probably was actively involved in the 1916 election (in order to keep America out of WW1).
And come to think of it, I wonder if England wouldn’t try to influence the first presidential elections as well, trying to win back the colonies (they weren’t exactly known for giving up after a single defeat).
This is certainly the most publicized foreign interference though.
The main problem with using this as a precedent for throwing out a presidential election is that its almost guaranteed to be used for just about every subsequent election – there’s always some foreign power involved (every major power tries to influence rivals or even allies’ elections), and its not hard to imagine the losing party always trying (successfully or unsuccessfully but always disruptively) using this new found mechanism.
I’d say it’d be much better to put the effort into winning back congress in 2018, along with winning state legislatures.
Yup, but the bar on determining that has to be set very high – beyond any reasonable doubt territory – or it’ll be automatically invoked after every election by the losing party.
Hacking and releasing private emails (which the Russians very likely did) can’t be sufficient, it’ll just mean every party makes sure their email is hacked and released before every election to gain an automatic ‘redo’ card.
If it turns out (its possible) the Russians changed actual voting results then you have sufficient cause to throw out an election. And to be fair, if it turned out that illegal voters were actually out there in big numbers (along with unicorns I’d guess), then that too would be a basis for overturning an election. But hard proof is needed, not just the possibility or other kinds of speculation.
Agreed. But let’s backtrack a little. I first wrote those words before the election, at a time when Trump was going around saying stuff like the following:
In other words, he was more or less openly calling for voter intimidation at polling stations. And there was a very real possibility that such tactics could be enough to swing the election on their own, especially if the election turned out to be 2000-level close.
I wasn’t questioning the legitimacy of an election that had not yet taken place; I was pointing out that he was encouraging illegitimate (and very illegal) tactics with the potential to distort the outcome.
In the case of the 2000 election, we have clear evidence that the counting of the votes was incorrectly decided, and therefore the outcome was essentially illegitimate.
We still don’t know the full story of Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s level of involvement, but it isn’t just a wild conspiracy theory, it’s the subject of an FBI investigation. That matters.
He’s apparently not the only one, Doug.
I agree, just pointing out we have to be careful; these precedents are always double edged swords, and people will do false flag operations to make themselves look like the victims of these kinds of things if the standard is too low.
And I agree the Russia investigation is more than wild conjecture, I think they’re making a good case. However, this is a “preponderance of evidence” case, this is a “beyond all reasonable doubt” case, because it will become automatic to dispute outcomes in the future unless its ironclad.
What one side uses in one election, unless very solid (for instance what happened with Nixon) will become normal procedure in the next election. Some people think we can make an exception for how we handle Trump (I can empathize, he’s almost certainly the worst since Andrew Jackson – who caused far more unnecessary and hateful death than Trump has so far), but it never works out that way. What’s done to Trump will be automatically returned.
Bork was arguably a horrible SCOTUS candidate (I’m not a lawyer so I’ve never read up on his hearings), but how he was treated set the standard for subsequent hearings. Same will happen here, but worse, since the stakes are bigger. It has to be ironclad.
Come on, didn’t we already pass this threshold a while ago? We have a president who speaks openly about illegal aliens voting and stealing the popular vote for Hillary, who all but preemptively refused to accept any election result that ended in his defeat, and whose very entry into GOP politics in 2011 centered around his advocacy of the “birther” theory challenging the legitimacy of Obama’s election.
It has actually occurred to me that the 2000 recount controversy is part of what provoked Republicans to question Obama’s legitimacy. A lot of that was racial in nature, of course. But I think it was inevitable that Republicans were going to challenge the legitimacy of any Democrat, because they don’t believe a Democrat can ever be legitimately elected. And part of that, I believe, was that they see it as “payback” for Dems’ refusal to recognize Bush’s election as legitimate.
If the extremely valid and well-grounded questions surrounding Bush’s rise to power can so easily provoke loopy conspiracy theories on the right, then there really is nothing we can do to prevent the right from questioning every Democratic president’s legitimacy as a matter of course. While we’re busy stroking our chins about “preponderance of evidence,” the president is going on TV and on Twitter boldly proclaiming that black is white and up is down. Huge inauguration crowd? Check. Health care for everyone at a cheaper price? Check. Millions of illegals voting? Check.
When we have an administration–and a movement–this detached from even the most rudimentary standards of evidence and rationality, we can’t expect it to change no matter how much caution and circumspection we ourselves exercise.