Dana Milbank on CNN: 'Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy' Trying to Stop Hillary

Dana Milbank, Washington Post Reporter | NewsBusters.orgDuring his regular “Political Daily Briefing’ feature on CNN’s “No Bias, No Bull” program on Tuesday evening, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post used Hillary Clinton’s famous descriptive about her conservative opponents in describing one group’s latest effort against the outgoing New York senator: “A group called Judicial Watch, charter members of the vast right-wing conspiracy -- they were on to Hillary back during the commodity trading days -- now, they say because of Article One in the Constitution says you cannot serve in the position where you got a -- voted for a pay raise while you were in Congress, they’re saying she is constitutionally ineligible.” He then opined that “the only thing for Hillary to do is just give her $191,000 salary as Secretary of State to Judicial Watch for their extraordinary creativity -- just save everybody the court costs.”

Milbank is correct in pointing out the historical opposition that Judicial Watch has towards the Clintons. However, the organization has been a bit “bipartisan” in its lawsuits, since it also sued Vice President Cheney over the apparent lack of transparency surrounding his energy task force.

Host Campbell Brown brought up this development by asking Milbank about “some very strange rumblings about Hillary Clinton. Some conservatives saying she might not be able to serve as Secretary of State because of a clause in the Constitution.” After Milbank gave his initial analysis/commentary, Brown turned to CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who, before concluding that this “does appear to be a problem,” admitted that despite reading the Constitution “many times,” that he had “never noticed this clause before.”

Earlier, Toobin described some of the history behind this clause: “There is actually this clause, and presidents have to had to deal with it in the past. When President Ford nominated William Saxby, who is the senator from Ohio to be attorney general, this issue came up.....[I]t’s called the Emoluments Clause, and there will have to be some way to address it.”

The full transcript of the segment, which began 39 minutes into the 8 pm Eastern hour of Tuesday’s “No Bias, No Bull” program:

CAMPBELL BROWN: Finally -- finally, we are hearing some very strange rumblings about Hillary Clinton. Some conservatives saying she might not be able to serve as Secretary of State because of a clause in the Constitution. What is going on?

DANA MILBANK: You got to love this. A group called Judicial Watch, charter members of the vast right-wing conspiracy -- they were on to Hillary back during the commodity trading days -- now, they say because of Article One in the Constitution says you cannot serve in the position where you got a -- voted for a pay raise while you were in Congress, they’re saying she is constitutionally ineligible. I think the only thing for Hillary to do is just give her $191,000 salary as Secretary of State to Judicial Watch for their extraordinary creativity -- just save everybody the court costs.

BROWN: In all seriousness, Dana, stand by for a second because we had to bring Jeff Toobin in for this one. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the press release today. But I mean, give us a reality check. Should she be in full-on panic mode here?

JEFFREY TOOBIN: Well, no. There is actually this clause, and presidents have to had to deal with it in the past. When President Ford nominated William Saxby, who is the senator from Ohio to be attorney general, this issue came up.

BROWN: Uh-huh.

TOOBIN: What they have done is they have arranged for Congress to pass a law reducing the salary, so that there would not be a raise. I mean, they would just do it by a few hundred dollars.

BROWN: Right.

TOOBIN: That’s one way of doing it. Another way of dealing with the problem is simply for Hillary Clinton to take less money. Another way is simply to ignore Judicial Watch, because it’s pretty clear that Judicial Watch doesn’t have the right -- doesn’t have standing to file the lawsuit. But there is this clause in the Constitution -- it’s called the Emoluments Clause, and there will have to be some way to address it. But I think Hillary Clinton is safe -- she is going to be secretary.

BROWN: I mean, this is fascinating because we are -- the Constitution is not something you necessarily want to muck around with.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, and I have read the Constitution many times. This is something I consider my field. I had never noticed this clause before. It’s Article One, Section Six. It’s there. It does appear to be a problem, but you put lawyers to work and there are ways around it.

BROWN: And you would know -- spoken like a true legal scholar. Jeff Toobin for us and Dana Milbank, as always, with the ‘PDB.’ Thanks a lot, guys.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center