New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd and the newspaper's chief Washington correspondent Carl Hulse were discussing the 2016 election Friday afternoon at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics (IOP) when news broke that the FBI is reviewing additional emails related to Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.
The emails were found "in connection with an unrelated case" and "appear to be pertinent to the investigation," FBI Director James Comey said in a letter to Congress Friday. The news comes 11 days before the November 8 presidential election.
"I think that's gonna be a lot of really bad headlines for Hillary Clinton for the next few days, and they're gonna spend a lot time trying to explain why that's not a big deal, which is not what they want to be doing at the end of this campaign," Hulse said at the IOP event shortly after the news broke.
"I don't even know much about the details of that," he added, "but I know it's not good for her."
IOP's Director David Axelrod asked what the news could mean for Clinton after the presidential election, if she wins.
"Then you just have more fuel on the fire of the House investigation," Hulse said, adding that "it's not like the Republicans in the House are gonna say, 'Oh, you won the election, we'll drop everything. Let's just have a clean slate'... That ain't happening."
Axelrod also weighed in on the developing story.
"My read of this is that Jim Comey, the FBI director, was moving to protect his own institution ... because if it got revealed after the election that there were additional emails and he hadn't said anything about it, then that would trigger a whole nother round of congressional hearings," he said.
In terms of the down-ballot races, Hulse said Democrats have a "slight edge" in U.S. Senate contests to take control of the upper chamber. It would be unlikely, he said, for Dems to flip the 30 seats needed to take control of the U.S. House.
After the election, House Speaker Paul Ryan may end up with a "five or six or 10 seat majority" and "it's gonna be a lot more conservative," Hulse said.
"Here's a guy who's gonna have to make deals with the Democrats," while also facing "pressure from the angry people on his right, the Freedom Caucus," he said. "So he's really got a thankless task, especially if he wants to run for president" in 2020.
The panelists discussed what may become of Republican Donald Trump after the election, if he loses.
"No one agrees with me on this," Dowd said. "I think he's gonna hit the Earth like a giant, orange, fiery comet and we're not gonna hear from him again. I mean, yes, Access Hollywood may go and interview him, what does he think of what Hillary did about this or that, but I think his brand is ruined."
There has been speculation that Trump may launch a media network if he loses the election, but the Republican presidential nominee swatted away the rumors earlier this week by saying he has no interest in starting "Trump TV."
"No, I have no interest in Trump TV," Trump told a Cincinnati radio station Tuesday. "I hear it all over the place. I have a tremendous fan base, we have a tremendous base. We have the most incredible people, but I just don't have any interest in that."
Speaking about the idea of Trump starting a TV network, Dowd asked "who's the audience?"
"He can go around and talk to white supremacists, but is that really what Donald Trump wants to do?" she said. "So I think he's gonna have a really hard time afterwards."