30 October 2017

Two Urgent Questions The Media Isn't Asking About Trump's Collusion

Some facts:
  • Today Trump's campaign manager was indicted and a campaign adviser to Trump plead guilty to lying to the FBI about a contact with ties to the Kremlin.
  • The Kremlin definitely meddled in the 2016 election, working to help Trump beat Clinton. 
  • Russians invested heavily in Trump's business after his bankruptcies.
  • The Trump campaign changed Republican policy to eliminate support for the Ukraine in their battle against Russia over Crimea and other territory.
  • Trump has attacked and criticized fellow Republicans, former allies, even his own staff but has never spoken negatively against Putin.
  • Trump's son and son-in-law and key officials met with Russians to discuss compromising information on Hillary Clinton shortly before Clinton emails were released by the Russians during the campaign.

It is plausible that Trump colluded with the Russians to steal the 2016 election.

It is not too soon to ask two really big questions, questions that will have to be addressed if speculation about Trump stealing the presidency prove true.

If Trump is found guilty of colluding to hijack a presidential election,

Who should then assume the presidency? 
1. Vice President Pence? 
The problem with this is that Pence is only VP because of Trump's victory. If Trump's victory is invalid, so is Pence's claim to replace him.

2. Hillary Clinton?
The obvious argument here is the Olympic's argument: if the gold medal winner has cheated then the official winner is now the silver medal winner. There are so many obvious problems and complications with this that one hardly knows where to start. Suffice to say that it is unprecedented. Suffice to say that a candidate colluding with a foreign power to steal the presidency is also unprecedented.

3. Barack Obama?
The allure of this is that it would return the presidency to the last fairly elected person, and return the presidency to someone obviously experienced in the job and able to quickly take over. Obama could hold office while a new election was called and Americans chose a new president. This is unprecedented within the US but not within countries where elections have obviously been tampered with. (And obviously raises dozens of important questions about how to create a presidential election outside the normal election cycle, or even whether such an election should be arranged or if the replacement for Trump should be allowed to serve the term through 2020.)

4. Paul Ryan?
This makes sense because order of succession gives the speaker the White House in the event that the president and vice president are unable to serve. It also has the obvious problems that Pence has in that it would award the presidency to the party whose head stole the presidency.

5. Joe Biden?
Far fetched but would answer the rebuttal to Obama taking the office after serving 2 terms.

Should all of Trump's executive orders and judicial and cabinet appointments be automatically rescinded?

For instance, would Supreme Court Gorsuch lose his seat? Would any legislation signed by Trump automatically be deemed invalid?

The American people are unprepared for any of these answers. The polarization that we already see in media coverage and arguments could actually escalate into violence if Pence or Obama (or any of the others mentioned above) replace Trump and yet such options are really the only options we have. This can hardly be stressed enough: any option will be unacceptable to many - perhaps most - Americans.

A responsible media would begin processing what is next right now. If it works out that Trump did not collude and is not going to be impeached or resign, then fine. The media exploring these questions would have only explored some fascinating options in a fascinating year. If it works out that Trump did collude and thus cannot hold the office he stole, there will be no such thing as too much time for Americans to work through what has to happen next.

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