There’s a scenario in which Hillary Clinton could still become president before the 2020 election, a Harvard Law professor said this week, raising pulses and rolling eyeballs throughout the internet.
In the event that President Trump leaves office because of Robert Mueller’s findings about Russian influence on the 2016 election, Harvard’s Lawrence Lessig outlined a scenario in which Clinton could ascend to the presidency. In an essay on Medium last November, he suggested that if Trump conspired with Russia and is removed from office, Vice President Mike Pence should also resign or be impeached. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan then would become president, and the sporting thing to do would be to nominate “the person defeated by the treason of his own party, and then step aside, and let her become President.”
This week, Lessig reiterated to Newsweek that it was plausible. “This is one way it could happen,” Lessig said. “But that’s very different from saying I think it will happen, or should happen, or [that] the evidence is there for it to happen.” There hasn’t been any proof that Trump of his associates conspired to steal the election, but if it comes to light, resignation or impeachment of those involved is essential, he said.
Reaction to the political fantasy football skewed loudly negative on Twitter and Fox News, with some journalists suggesting that Newsweek had declined in editorial quality just for publishing Lessig’s opinion.
“What’s left of Newsweek is actively making people dumber and less informed and honestly should be unfollowed and shunned for this kind of behavior,” tweeted Wall Street Journal reporter Byron Tau.
“Democratic fanfic presented as news. It was extraordinarily speculative and yet packaged as journalism,” echoed Daily Beast national security reporter Spencer Ackerman.
Lessig then added an exasperated update to his original Medium essay, saying it was, in fact, intended to be Democratic fanfic, not worthy of “outrage mongering,” and that he was merely speculating on a remedy the Constitution hadn’t explicitly outlined. Lessig wrote: “Mine wasn’t an essay mapping the consequences under our Constitution of a hypothetical that people are actually asking about; it was a fantasy piece by a liberal law professor dreaming about how Clinton could become President.”