Portions of the second presidential debate Sunday night between Clinton and Trump were more like a no-holds-barred, bare-knuckle brawl than a debate. Several times the debate disintegrated into near chaos with both Clinton and Trump interrupting each other and refusing to yield to the moderators. Perhaps the biggest highlight of the brawl was when Trump insinuated that Clinton is “the Devil” and said that if he were president, Clinton “would be in jail.”
Both candidates played to their base of die-hard supporters — and while neither likely picked up much in the way of points outside of that — each did a fairly tight job of sticking to what works for them. Clinton continued to hammer the what-he-just-said-is false line (even when what Trump had said has been proven to be true and is widely known to be so). Trump, for his part, stayed fairly close to the fact that after more than 30 years in Washington, Clinton has had plenty of time to change the things she says she’s going to change as president. Sadly, he missed several golden opportunities to point out that much of what Clinton promises to do as president are not within the constitutional authority of the president, but instead fall under the powers given to Congress.
In the midst of her claiming, though, that “everything he just said is absolutely false,” Trump delivered his first staggering blow in the night’s battle by telling Clinton that if he were president, she would be in jail. And while the mainstream liberal media has (as usual) taken his comments out of context — claiming that he threatened her with jail as if he had dictatorial power to set aside due process and throw his opponent into a dungeon — what he actually said is well withing the constructs of the constitutional powers of a president.
Anderson Cooper used a question from the audience to segue into asking Trump about the 2005 video in whch he makes lewd comments about women. In his response, Trump attacked Clinton’s husband Bill Clinton for his long-lived and well-known sexual abuse of women, which includes allegations of outright rape. He also pointed out Hillary Clinton’s record of not only publicly attacking the women her husband privately assaulted, but of also defending a child rapist and laughing about getting him off on the charges.
Hillary Clinton responsed by denying what is known to be true and is easily shown to be so. She said:
Well, first let me start by saying that so much of what he just said is not right, but he gets to run his campaign any way he chooses. He gets to decide what he wants to talk about instead of answering people’s questions, talking about our agenda, laying out the plans that we have that we think can make a better life and a better country. That’s his choice. When I hear something like that, I am reminded of what my friend Michelle Obama advised us all. “When they go low, you go high.”
She then said that Trump “never apologizes for anything to anyone,” giving examples of people to whom she thinks he owes apologies. One of those examples included President Obama. Clinton said:
And he never apologized for the racist lie that President Obama was not born in the United States of America. He owes the president an apology and he owes our country an apology and he needs to take responsibility for his actions and his words.
Setting aside the ridiculousness of calling the birther issue “racist,” Trump wasted no time pointing out that if anyone owes Obama an apology for addressing his lack of qualification to run for president over that issue, it is Clinton herself since she was instrumental in spreading the information about Obama’s lack of a United States birth certificate. He said:
Well you owe the president an apology because as you know very well, your campaign, Sidney Blumenthal, he’s another real winner that you have and he’s the one that got this started along with your campaign manager, and they were on television just two weeks ago, she was saying exactly that. So you really owe him an apology. You’re the one that sent the pictures around, your campaign sent the pictures around with President Obama in a certain garb, that was long before I was ever involved. So you actually owe an apology.
Then — after spending some time reminding Clinton that it is ridiculous to refer to Michelle Obama as her “friend,” considering the vicious attacks the Obamas made on her in the 2008 election cycle — Trump let loose the dogs of war, saying:
And I tell you what, I didn’t think I would say this, but I’m going to and I hate to say it. But if I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation. Because there has never been so many lies, so much deception. There has never been anything like it. And we’re going to have a special prosecutor. When I speak, I go out and speak, the people of this country are furious. In my opinion, the people that have been longtime workers at the FBI are furious. There has never been anything like this where e-mails, and you get a subpoena. You get a subpoena, and after getting the subpoena you delete 33,000 e-mails and then you acid wash them or bleach them, as you would say — a very expensive process. So we’re going to get a special prosecutor and we’re going to look into it. Because you know what, people have been — their lives have been destroyed for doing one-fifth of what you have done. And it’s a disgrace, and honestly, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.
Clinton, in her typical way of dealing with anything about the e-mail scandal, simply denied that there was anything to it, saying again, “Everything he just said is absolutely false, but I’m not surprised.” She went on to say, “You know, it’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country ...”
Trump interrupted to say what many have hoped to hear. He said, “Because you would be in jail.”
As noted above, many in media have taken Trump to task for that statement, saying that he crossed a line that has never been crossed before by threatening to jail his opponent if he wins. He has been accused of threatening to yield the powers of a despotic dictator and dispense his brand of “justice” without due process of law. But is that what he said?
Not even close. He said, “I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation.” He also said, “You get a subpoena, and after getting the subpoena you delete 33,000 e-mails and then you acid wash them or bleach them, as you would say — a very expensive process.” He wrapped it up by saying, “So we’re going to get a special prosecutor and we’re going to look into it. Because you know what, people have been — their lives have been destroyed for doing one-fifth of what you have done.”
In other words, he made a case — a solid case — that she broke the law and he promised a real investigation instead of the dog-and-pony show led by the FBI that ended in a fizzle and without a recommendation for indictment. And he stated his opinion — shared by millions — that if that investigation ever happens, the result would be that Clinton “would be in jail.”
One doesn’t have to be a Donald Trump fan to like the sound of that.