How Hillary Clinton's attacks are helping President Trump

Trump and Clinton spar over election outcome
Trump and Clinton spar over election outcome

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    Trump and Clinton spar over election outcome

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Trump and Clinton spar over election outcome 02:53

(CNN)Hillary Clinton's aggressive attack on the legitimacy of Donald Trump's presidency -- she repeatedly noted she won the popular vote by 3 million votes, she lost because of James Comey and the Russian hacking -- on Tuesday drew huge amounts of attention in the political world.

It also almost certainly helped Trump's political standing -- even for a brief time,
Remember that the central reason Trump won in 2016 was because voters faced a binary choice between two choices they didn't like. The exit polling makes clear that voters were far from thrilled with Trump but that, with Clinton as the only other option, they decided to voted for him -- believing him to be a much-needed change agent.
The evidence: Of the nearly four in ten voters who said a candidate who can bring about "needed change" was the most important candidate quality, Trump won 82% to 14%, according to exit polls.
Views on Clinton haven't changed all that much since the election. Yes, Trump is unpopular. But Clinton is even more unpopular. And there appear to be few doubts among Trump voters that would suggest that if the election were held today, the result would be any different.
Ninety-six percent of Trump voters said it was the right thing to do while just 2% said they regretted their vote in an April Washington Post-ABC News poll. That same poll showed that 96% of the people who voted for Trump said they would vote for him again; 85% of Clinton voters said they would cast a ballot for her again. (A Fox News poll produced similar results.)
Despite the activism on the left that has surged in the wake of Trump's election, the country, viewed broadly, doesn't have an overwhelming urge to overturn what happened last November.
And, what we know about Trump is that he is most comfortable -- and at his best, politically speaking -- when he has a foil. Trump is a natural counterpuncher, someone who thrives off of being attacked.
His first 104 days in the White House prove it. Robbed of an opponent -- Clinton, former President Obama -- Trump has seemed listless and lost. He has struggled to articulate or execute a positive vision for the country. He has, at times, been desperately in search of someone to run against.
Seen through this lens, Trump's interest-bordering-on-obsession with the 2016 election makes more sense. It's his attempt to find the energy and momentum he enjoyed in that campaign.
Clinton, unwittingly, gave Trump exactly what he wanted on Tuesday when she went after him and the 2016 election -- often in personal and biting terms. Trump was quick to respond to Clinton's provocation-- insisting that Comey had give her a "free pass for many bad deeds."
That should surprise absolutely no one. Trump would, if he could, keep re-litigating the 2016 election with Clinton all the way through the 2020 election. He believes -- rightly -- that it works in his favor.
Democrats may cheer Clinton's bold reemergence this week. But to assume this works in their party's benefit isn't borne out by the facts.