Despite President Donald Trump’s November 2016 electoral victory over Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton, some people believe there is still a chance the former secretary of state could make it to the White House.
That sentiment is apparently not only contained to conspiracy theorists and anonymous internet commentators. Instead, a Harvard law professor has offered up a scenario by which Clinton can become president.
Lawrence Lessig, who serves as the Roy L. Furman professor of law and leadership at Harvard Law School — discussed his theory in a recent interview with Newsweek.
The outlet seemed to take him very seriously, running with the headline, “Hillary Clinton Could Still Become President If Russia Probe Finds Conspiracy Evidence.”
Lessig originally detailed the series of events that he said could lead to a Clinton presidency in an October blog post.
In short, for his theory to actually work, it would first have to be proven that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election. Lessig did note this is far from a given.
“I don’t know if I believe it,” he wrote. “I certainly haven’t seen clear evidence of it. And I don’t think it’s appropriate to speculate about whether there is clear evidence of it or not.”
If collusion is proven, and both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are either forced out of office or leave voluntarily, House Speaker Paul Ryan would be next in line for the presidency. According to Lessig, Ryan should nominate Clinton as his vice president, then relinquish the office to her.
“If Ryan became President because the Trump/Pence campaign committed treason, who should he nominate as his Vice President?” Lessig wrote.“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.”
In his interview with Newsweek, Lessig emphasized that the chances of this scenario actually coming to pass remain extremely slim.
“This is one way it could happen,” he 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.”
He also explained that since he published his blog post several months ago, he has not seen any hard evidence convincing him without a doubt that there was collusion. But if new evidence does implicate Trump and his associates, Lessig thinks what must be done is clear.
“Absolutely, he’s got to resign, and if he doesn’t resign, then absolutely Congress needs to impeach him,” he said.
The Harvard law professor’s theory was widely mocked on social media. Moreover, many users took issue with Newsweek’s reporting on the issue, noting that the outlet took Lessig’s ideas too seriously.
Twitter users weren’t the only ones who complained about how Newsweek reported on the subject. In an update added at the top of his blog post, Lessig said the outlet failed to highlight the key “qualifications” he had included in his piece — notably, the fact that collusion has not been proven, and he is still awaiting the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“(W)hether you believe there is or not, as I said upfront, I don’t believe it is appropriate to speculate about whether there is or isn’t. Let Mueller do his job and we’ll see where we are when he’s finished,” 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,” he added.
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