Nate Silver undertook an interesting what-if project this week with a story on what would things be like if Hillary Clinton had been elected president.
Merrick Garland is on the Supreme Court, and Neil Gorsuch is not. Brian Fallon is the press secretary, and Sean Spicer is not. It is Hillary Clinton under investigation for ties to Russia, and not Donald Trump. Huma Abedin is the White House chief of staff.
Hillary feuds with the press. Her approval numbers at the six-month mark are lower than any president since the 1930s. She is more a caretaker than an implementer of bold new ideas. Congress went Republican, so her agenda goes nowhere. Most of what could be done through executive action was done by Barack Obama. And the press continues to hound her to show progress on something … anything.
Her answer, frustrating to her as well as the American people, is that we haven’t made major mistakes. We haven’t pulled out of the Paris climate accords or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and our foreign policy “has largely been a continuation of Barack Obama’s.”
Silver says Clinton struck a deal with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – he would get Garland confirmed, and she would allow him input on cabinet officials. This is how we got Joe Lieberman as Attorney General and Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior.
It’s an interesting thought exercise, but some of it doesn’t ring true. Silver swallows whole the liberal theory that Trump would be disruptive and refuse to accept electoral results. In truth, he would be back to running his businesses and too busy to care within days.
Silver says Trump’s recalcitrance would contribute to a “national skepticism about Clinton.” There’s been a national skepticism about Hillary Clinton for 30 years.
And he says Republicans would be investigating Hillary’s email problems and considering articles of impeachment this very day if she had been elected. It’s hard to say if Republicans in Congress would be investigating the emails at this point if Hillary had won. But it’s not hard to say – because it is unarguably true – that we are not investigating her emails now.
A federal court has ordered the State Department to turn over 100,000 emails as part of the settlement of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. But according to Circa, the State Department argued at a hearing Thursday that it could not process the 100,000 emails because of a lack of manpower caused by a “hiring freeze” and said it switched to other projects because of the public’s lack of interest in the subject.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, the group that filed the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, said some of these emails are among those Clinton “failed to disclose” to the government when she served as secretary of state.
Last week, Judicial Watch released 448 pages of State Department documents from Abedin that it said showed preferential treatment to major donors to the Clinton Foundation and various campaigns. These included six email exchanges totaling 439 emails that Clinton had not turned over to the State Department previously. This further puts the lie to her statement that as far as she knew, she had turned over all her emails to the State Department.
The FBI gave the State Department a disk with 7,000 new emails on it that belong to Abedin and were taken from the laptop she shared with her husband, convicted child molester Anthony Weiner. But even those 7,000 can’t be released because, according to Fitton, State Department and Justice Department lawyers are “claiming they have to appraise them, whether they are personal or government, and then sift through what can be shared publicly.”
The court ordered the State Department to process documents at the rate of 500 pages per month, which means it will take until 2020 for most of the information to become public, Fitton said.
Trump has said repeatedly – he tweetstormed on this as recently as a month ago – that the Justice Department should get her emails and make them public. But his own Justice Department attorneys essentially conceded they were slow-rolling the project because of “diminished public interest.”
One insider told Circa, “There are still holdovers within the departments that don’t want to see these emails released, so slow-rolling these requests makes perfect sense. If the president wants these emails released, then he will have to demand that the agencies abide.”
Not for nothing does Silver speculate that upwards of 40 percent of voters – and more than 70 percent of Republicans – would want Hillary impeached given the circumstances. There is widespread distrust of her, her poll numbers are worse than Trump’s, and even she has admitted the trust issues created by the email scandals hurt her at the polls.
But in the view of the State Department, knowing what the former secretary of state was doing elsewhere in the world to shore up her chances of being elected here – what promises were made, what funds collected, etc. – is not of sufficient public interest to invest a few resources and finish the job?
Talk about your alternative universes.