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What If Hillary Clinton Were The Accused?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at a fundraiser for the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel in Baltimore, Monday, June 5, 2017. (Patrick Semansky/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at a fundraiser for the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel in Baltimore, Monday, June 5, 2017. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

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Let’s do a little thought experiment.

Just suppose the American electoral system was a representative democracy, in which the winner of the popular vote was the winner of the presidential election. (Crazy sounding, I know, but just go with it.)

So now Hillary Clinton would be president.

Let’s suppose that every single one of our intelligence agencies concluded that the Russians worked overtime to help her win, by stealing emails from her opponent and releasing them through Wikileaks, by spreading propaganda on social media, by attempting to hack into the election systems in 21 states.

Now let’s further suppose that Clinton had done extensive business in Russia, including attempting to build hotels, had heaped praise on Vladimir Putin, and had borrowed unknown sums of money from wealthy Russian oligarchs, though the exact sum remained unknown because Clinton refused to release her tax records.

With me so far?

Okay, now let’s have Clinton fill her campaign staff with guys who also have extensive histories of doing business with Russians, and who meet with Russians repeatedly during the campaign, though they wind up repeatedly lying about these meetings to investigators.

Let’s say that the stolen Russian dirt on her opponent gets released over the course of the campaign, always at crucial moments and that Clinton and her staff push for pro-Russian measures during the election and in office.

Just for good measure, let’s give Clinton a long and documented record of lying her head off about pretty much everything, one that only worsens as president. And let’s say that Clinton’s core philosophy — one she puts forward in all her books — is to win at any cost, if possible by destroying your opponent.

As president, let’s say Clinton appoints a National Security Advisor who has to resign after a few weeks, because of his lies about his contact with Russians. And an attorney general who has to recuse himself from investigations … because of his lies about his contact with Russians.

And let’s say Clinton fires the director of the FBI, because, as she explains on national TV, she wants him to stop investigating her possible collusion with Russia.

Now let’s suppose that emails emerge showing that Clinton’s son, her trusted son-in-law, and her campaign manager all met with Russians during the campaign, specifically because these Russians were promising dirt on her opponent. Let’s say Clinton had the audacity to go on TV, just a few hours later, crowing about all the dirt she was going to reveal about her opponent.

Then let’s suppose that Clinton’s former campaign manager is indicted by the Special Counsel investigating her campaign’s collusion, along with another top campaign staffer, for money laundering, conspiracy, and other charges.

And that one of Clinton’s foreign policy advisors — a man she told the Washington Post was “an excellent guy” — pleaded guilty to lying about his contact with Russians, specifically his numerous attempts to broker a meeting between Clinton and the Russians.

Let’s suppose all that happened (and more).

The question is pretty simple: Do you think Hillary Clinton and/or her campaign colluded with Russia to win the election?

And if she and/or her staff did collude with America’s chief foreign adversary to subvert our free and fair elections, does that constitute treason?

And if it does constitute treason, should we — what’s the phrase I’m looking for here? Oh yes, here it is -- lock her up?

Or should we give Clinton a few more weeks or months to flail around, tweeting conspiracy theories floated by propagandistic media? Should we allow her to fire the Special Counsel who just indicted her former campaign chief? Should we allow her to trigger a constitutional crisis, simply because we lack the courage to remove her from office?

To those Americans who still cling to the notion that our current president is morally fit to serve, the nation awaits your answer.

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Steve Almond Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Steve Almond is a writer. His new book, "Bad Stories: Toward A Unified Theory of How It All Came Apart," will be out in March 2018. He hosts the Dear Sugars podcast with Cheryl Strayed.

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