This question’s on many of our minds as FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference intensifies. Over the weekend news emerged that he’d gotten a warrant for “inauthentic’ Facebook accounts linked to targeted ads during the presidential election.
Needless to say, things are not looking good for the Trump administration.
Towards the end of an in-depth 42-minute interview, NPR’s Terry Gross asked Hillary Clinton about Russian interference in the election and the Democratic Party’s reluctance to challenge the results. “As more and more information comes out about the depth of Russia’s interference in the election,” she queried, “Do you think, at some point, that it would be legitimate to challenge the legitimacy of the election?”
Hillary Clinton answered, “I don’t know if there’s any legal constitutional way to do that.” But, she adds, “I think you can raise questions.” Meanwhile, some heavy hitters — including Democratic Coalition Chair Jon Cooper — are willing and eager to help.
— Puesto Loco™ (@PuestoLoco) September 18, 2017
The Democratic candidate who won the popular vote by 2.8 million pointed out her opponent — like many Republicans — has a habit of accusing people of things they’re doing themselves.
“Whatever he’s doing and whatever he thinks is happening he will accuse somebody else of,” Hillary Clinton explained. “And there are examples during the campaign when he did just that, like when he called publicly on Russia to hack my personal emails.”
And here’s the thing. We’ve long known Russian agents meddled in our election. But there are a couple reasons why Democrats shy away from launching a legal challenge. First, Hillary Clinton points out, there’s a big difference between meddling in the 2016 election and actually having an influence on the results. Now, this possibility is looking more and more likely.
NEW VIDEO: Mueller's Facebook Warrant means time is running out for Kushner, Bannon, Cambridge Analytica – and Trump pic.twitter.com/r8AjXncUVI
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) September 18, 2017
“He knew they were trying to do whatever they could to discredit me with emails, so there’s obviously a trail there,” the former U.S. senator and secretary of state explained. “But I don’t know that in our system we have any means of doing that, but I just wanted to add to the point you made. There’s no doubt they influenced the election: We now know more about how they did that.”
Here’s a video from Newsy that explains the Trump administration’s many dubious ties to Russia.
— Alexander Hamilton (@AHamiltonSpirit) September 17, 2017
Hillary Clinton also took care to add that if she’d won the White House under similarly suspicious circumstances, she “would’ve never stood for it” and “would’ve set up an independent commission with subpoena power and everything else.”
Terry Gross then steered the first female presidential nominee back towards the original question. “I want to get back to the question,” she declared. “Would you 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?”
Hillary Clinton hesitated at first, then resolutely declared:
“No, I wouldn’t rule it out.”
But that brings her to the second reason leading Democrats have hung back from challenging the 2016 election results: She’s not sure if we have any legal way to do that.
“Basically I don’t believe there are,” she explained. “There are scholars, academics, who have arguments that it would be, but I don’t think they’re on strong ground. But people are making those arguments. I just don’t think we have a mechanism.”
But since Hillary Clinton’s talking about this in public, you can be pretty danged sure she and her allies are looking into it. After all, she has a keen legal mind and cut her teeth assisting U.S. Justice Dept. lawyer John Doar as he led the investigation of another shady Republican president, Richard Nixon. Hillary Clinton even recently said the Russia scandal’s “probably bigger than Watergate.” Of course, when Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment, Vice President Gerald Ford became president. Then again, despite his skullduggery, he actually won the election while it’s looking more and more like Donald Trump didn’t.
It’s also very hard to imagine her former boss Barack Obama — who was once a constitutional law professor — not looking into this. Normally former presidents stay out of the political fray as a courtesy to the person succeeding them. But the current White House occupant is so outrageous Obama’s starting to emerge from his shell.
Stranger yet, back in August, former Vice President Al Gore mentioned the 2000 presidential election on Real Time with Bill Maher. While discussing climate change and the possibility of losing Florida, Maher joked, “And who would know more about losing Florida?” Breaking 17 years of silence, Al Gore laughed and replied, “Actually, I think I carried Florida. But that’s another … we won’t go there.”
During her interview, Hillary Clinton also mentioned that presidential election in Kenya was just nullified and the U.K. is conducting an investigation of their Brexit vote. As it turns out, both of these elections have something in common with our presidential election in 2016: The billionaire conservative Robert Mercer who backed all of these efforts.
“You know, the Kenya election [which was disputed after President Uhuru Kenyatta “won” another term] was just overturned and really what’s interesting about that,” she pointed out. “I hope somebody writes about it, Terry — the Kenyan election was also a project of Cambridge Analytica, the data company owned by the Mercer family that was instrumental in the Brexit vote.”
But wait, there’s more.
“There’s now an investigation going on in the U.K., because of the use of data and the weaponization of information. They were involved in the Trump campaign after he got the nomination, and I think that part of what happened is Mercer said to Trump, ‘We’ll help you, but you have to take Bannon as your campaign chief. You’ve got to take Kellyanne Conway’ and these other people who are basically Mercer protégées.“
Hillary Clinton then goes on to say, “And so we know that there was this connection. So 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 re-do it.”
She then concludes, “We have no such provision in our country. And usually, we don’t need it.” But now we do, and if there’s a way, she’ll be sure to find it.