In an article published on Medium, Harvard’s constitutional law professor and former Democratic presidential candidate, Lawrence Lessig, explained how Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation could lead to the Democratic Party presidential candidate Hilary Clinton becoming president. Although Lessig admitted that his suggestions are based on an unlikely “what if” scenario, he said they offer Clinton a clear but unprecedented route to the White House if Mueller’s investigation proves that Trump colluded with Russia to influence the general election.
Lessig’s suggestion is causing a stir among Clinton supporters who believe that his “what if” scenario is more than just hypothetical.
What If ‘Clear Evidence’ Emerges That Trump Colluded With Russia?
Lessig emphasized that the “what if” scenario he constructs is not simply about whether Trump has done anything that justifies impeachment, but whether what he has done invalidates his election as president. He noted that impeachable offenses, such as obstruction of justice, tax evasion, violation of the Emoluments Clause, could justify impeaching Trump, but these impeachable offenses do not directly impact the validity of his election as president.
According to Lessig the most obvious impeachable offense that would directly impact the validity of Trump’s election is if he is found to have conspired with a foreign government to get elected as president. Lessig noted that if Trump is found to have colluded with Russia to win the election, he would have to resign or be impeached if he refuses to resign.
What If Trump Is Removed From Office After Being Found To Have Committed Treason?
Lessig argued that it would be possible for Clinton to become president if Trump is removed from office after he is found to have won the election through treasonous collusion with Russia.
The Harvard professor of constitutional law noted that the buzz surrounding Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation suggests there could be evidence that Trump conspired with the Russians to undermine Clinton’s chances of winning the election. Lessig noted that although he has not seen “clear evidence” of collusion between Trump and Russia, widespread and popular interest in the issue makes it appropriate to consider what could happen if evidence of collusion emerges.
Pence Cannot Become President If Trump Is Removed From Office For Treasonous Conspiracy
According to Lessig, if Trump is removed from office after evidence emerges that he colluded with Russia to influence the general election, Vice President Mike Pence would also have to be removed because he benefited directly from Trump’s treasonous conspiracy. Pence should not be allowed to benefit from Trump’s resignation or removal because he also benefited from the treasonous conspiracy through which Trump won the election.
In other words, evidence that Trump won the election through collusion with the Russians invalidates the Trump/Pence ticket.
Pence’s resignation, according to Lessig, paves the way for House Speaker Paul Ryan to become president. If Ryan becomes president, he faces the question whether he should remain in office after the leader of his party and, by extension, his party, was found to have stolen the presidency through a treasonous act of collusion with a foreign power.
How Clinton Can Become President
Lessig admitted that there are no provisions in the U.S. Constitution for a new election to be held after it is found that a candidate won the election through an act of treason. The Electoral College could have voted to rectify the situation and replace Trump with Clinton, but it has already voted, and there are no provisions that allow the Electoral College to hold a new election.
Lessig then argued that although there is no clear legal or constitutional process that provides a path to Clinton becoming president if Trump is removed after been found to have colluded with Russia, a political solution could be found.
The political solution starts with the fact that if Ryan becomes president, he would have to nominate a Vice President. Lessig argued that if House Speaker Ryan becomes president, the right thing he should do is nominate the person defeated through Trump’s treason as his vice president, and that is the Democratic Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. After nominating Clinton as vice president, he should then step aside and allow Clinton to become president.
“The answer seems unavoidable: He should nominate the person defeated by the treason of his own party, and then step aside and let her become the president.”
Lessig pointed out that there is a precedent for a person becoming the vice president and later the president without running for office as president. President Gerald Ford became vice president after he was confirmed by a majority of both houses. He also later became president through the same process.
‘If You Steal An election, Neither You Nor Your Party Should Benefit From That Theft.’
Lessig argued that he is raising the issue of how Clinton can become president because although many would consider the idea unthinkable, it could become a reality if evidence emerges that Trump actually won the presidential election through treasonous collusion with a foreign power. Lessig said that his “what if” scenario is meant to prepare minds in Washington for the situation that could arise if Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation produces “clear evidence” of Trump-Russia collusion.
“If you steal an election, neither you nor your party should benefit from that theft. Even more so if you steal it in conspiracy with a foreign government. Everyone should be able to agree with this fundamental principle.”
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