Well! You Got Your October Surprise

Well! You Got Your October Surprise

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

FBI Director Comey’s confusing announcement on Friday has certainly muddied the waters of campaign 2016 once again; as if they needed any help for any more outside sources. Aside from any legal culpability of which Hillary might at some time be found to be guilty as a result of the new trove of emails, Comey probably has violated the Hatch Act by interfering in the election process. Minnesota law Professor Richard Painter, who worked as the chief ethics officer in Dubya’s White House from 2005-07, in fact has filed a Hatch Act complaint against Comey to that effect with the federal Office of Special Counsel and Office of Government Ethics.

It would seem that as a result of the new FBI probe of former Congressman Weiner’s emails– used presumably by his wife as well—Hillary’s closet aide for years, Huma Abedin, must immediately leave the campaign on her own; at least for politically reasons. At some point after November 8th Comey should resign and announce he wants the new President to appoint a new FBI Director.

The problem with all of this activity is that there is still an election which now has been disrupted once again by an email controversy. This one will never be resolved before Election Day and is unlikely to reveal any new violations by Clinton other than the ones of which she has already been cleared. What it will certainly do is permit law professors and presidential scholars to have a field day considering all the permutations and combinations which could arise over the next few days (before Election Day); over the next few weeks (before the Electoral College meets in the December); and over the next few months (before Inauguration Day on January 20).  

Assuming that all this hoopla only nudges the margins—although it might indeed affect down ballot votes—the serious problem is how it might impact a new Congress should Hillary be elected. Assuming Republicans control only the House of Representatives next January, it could still engage in an impeachment witch-hunt against President Hillary Clinton. This despite the fact that regardless of the election results, the Senate will never muster a two-thirds vote to convict and remove her from office.

Perhaps the greatest threat to consider is whether Trump will now challenge the entire election; whether there indeed is a danger Trump will litigate races, votes, early voters, and the Electoral College; and whether the Trump followers will use this as the fuel to drive a threat of a revolution. Finally, is there something perhaps much more sinister at play with the Comey letter and the FBI’s follow-up investigation? 

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