the day after
November 9, 2016

"Lock her up!" was a favorite chant at Donald Trump rallies throughout the general election, and now that only a few short months separate him from the White House, he actually has the power to try to do so. Trump even publicly vowed to hire a special prosecutor to go after Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server and claimed that she would "be in jail" if he is elected.

A president can't just throw someone in jail, though. Here's what would need to happen:

[Trump] would have to order his attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor, then count on that special prosecutor to agree with his assessment that Clinton's email practices violated criminal laws about mishandling classified information. And even if he did all that and Clinton was charged, she would still be afforded a trial, and Trump's special prosecutor would have to contend with evidence that led the original team of federal investigators to conclude there was not sufficient basis to believe a crime occurred.

Getting that process started, though, would not seem that difficult. Trump gets to pick and appoint the attorney general. [The Washington Post]

By Wednesday morning, Donald Trump's campaign manager still refused to rule out the possibility of Trump appointing a special prosecutor next year. President Obama has the ability to thwart such a scheme, though, by formally pardoning Clinton before he leaves office, which can be done even though she was not charged with any crimes.

Still, attempting to jail political enemies has long been an indication of failed democracies. "It would be like a banana republic," former attorney general Michael Mukasey, himself an outspoken Clinton critic, told The Washington Post. Jeva Lange

November 9, 2016

President Barack Obama stressed the importance of a peaceful transition of power during a speech in the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday. "It is no secret that the president-elect and I have some pretty significant differences," Obama said, while vowing his administration would do everything possible to ensure the transition to a Trump government goes smoothly.

Obama also praised Hillary Clinton for her hard-fought campaign, telling her supporters that democracy "isn't always inspiring … but you have to stay encouraged."

"Everybody is sad when their side loses the election," Obama explained. "But the day after, we have to remember we're all on the same team. This is an intramural scrimmage … We all want what's best for this country." Jeva Lange

November 9, 2016

One of the most special things about American democracy is the peaceful handover of power, a tradition that President Obama's appointed Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has urged his staff to protect in an increasingly divided country. "Last night our fellow American citizens voted for a new president," Carter wrote in a memo to Department of Defense staff. "That it happened freely and peacefully is a testament to the great work of this department."

Carter added, "I am committed to overseeing the orderly transition to the next commander in chief. I know I can count on you to execute all your duties with the excellence our citizens know they can expect."

While votes are still being counted, Hillary Clinton is currently leading the popular vote, while Donald Trump has already seized the requisite number of Electoral College votes to earn him the presidency. Jeva Lange

November 9, 2016

What just happened?

It's a question Americans across the political spectrum are asking each other Wednesday morning as Donald Trump emerges the unquestionable winner of the 2016 presidential election. But how did things turn out this way? The Washington Post has compiled quotes from Trump and Hillary Clinton aides and operatives to present a complete oral history of the election, beginning in the early days of May, when Trump's team was already eyeing a general election against the former secretary of state.

"The narrative was already baked in. That was the beauty of her. In most campaigns, you're trying to define a candidate. [Clinton] was defined as someone that people don't like and don't trust, and all we had to do was reinforce the existing narrative," Republican National Committee chief strategist Sean Spicer explained.

There was early anxiety in Clinton's team, too, about Trump's popularity: "I definitely remember we had a lot of angst around, like, how do we handle Trump? Like, how do you get your arms around this situation? The media runs wild with him. They just set the camera in front of him live and let it roll for as long as he speaks," campaign manager Robby Mook said.

Clinton's team was never fully confident that they could beat Trump, and hiccups like her fainting spell at the 9/11 Memorial shook that confidence even more. "Democrats completely and utterly panicked ... They all say, 'Well, what about Brexit?' 'What if the models are off?' It was really unbelievable, actually, because I was out doing a lot of fundraising and things and it was like therapy sessions," Democratic strategist David Plouffe said.

But whether Clinton's team was aware of how deeply in trouble they were or not, the rest of that story is now history. Learn more about how exactly it became that way at The Washington Post. Jeva Lange

November 9, 2016

Donald Trump wasn't the only big winner in the early hours of Wednesday morning. For only the second time since 1929, the Republican Party will control the House, Senate, the White House, most governorships and state houses, and will decide a Supreme Court pick.

The 109th United States Congress, from 2005 to 2007, also saw a Republican majority in the House and the Senate, with President George W. Bush in the White House. During those years, Bush also appointed conservative Justice John Roberts, who replaced Justice William Rehnquist after his death in 2005.

By comparison, though, Trump and his Republican Congress will be in power likely for a minimum of four years:

The 2018 midterm elections are much more difficult for Democrats than Republicans. In the Senate, Democrats are expected to defend anywhere from 23 to 25 seats, while Republicans will likely have to defend just eight.

Further down the ballot, 2010 redistricting by Republican-dominated state legislatures has made it very difficult for Democrats to gain a foothold in the House and in state chambers. They'll have to win back those chambers by 2020 in order to redraw lines in their favor. [The Washington Post]

In that sense, at least, the last time the Republican Party was as powerful as it will be come January was a stretch of years between 1921 and 1929. During that time, three Supreme Court justices were appointed. Additionally, The Washington Post notes, "It's almost a footnote that Republicans tied a 94-year-old record of control of governor's mansions Tuesday night; they now hold 34 of them. (Though Democrats will have a chance to chip away at that in 2018 when at least 14 Republican governors' mansions open up thanks to term limits.)"

As many have pointed out in viral tweets, 1929 was the beginning of the Great Depression. Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads