Birtherism 2.0? Conservatives claiming Clinton legally barred from holding office

As Josh Marshall wrote last week, it doesn’t take very long for ridiculous right-wing legal theories to jump from the blogosphere to four votes on the Supreme Court.

It takes even less time for them to declare a presidential frontrunner not only unfit for but legally barred from holding office.

From HotAir earlier today:

Michael Mukasey, who was the Unites States Attorney General from 2007 to 2009, showed up on Morning Joe today to discuss the Hillary Clinton private server debacle and how it was going to play out…Most of the information being discussed was nothing new. The panel talked about how Hillary’s decisions to not only have a private server, but to fail to properly classify the contents was a violation of department policy, if not the law. But then, in response to one question from Scarborough, Mukasey went a step further and said that Clinton may have disqualified herself from elected office if the allegations prove to be true.

Now, that’s a phrase we’ve heard before, but generally in a philosophical sense. “If you do this or that bad thing, you’ve essentially disqualified yourself as being the leader of the free world.” But when the former AG was pressed on the question, he informed the panel that he was speaking specifically of federal statute.

Joking that it was a common subject around his family’s breakfast table, he said, “Title 18. Section 2071.”

That particular section of the US Code prohibits destroying certain government documents. Reading:

The Clintons, via stocklight / Shutterstock

The Clintons, via stocklight / Shutterstock

(a)Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

(b)Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States. As used in this subsection, the term “office” does not include the office held by any person as a retired officer of the Armed Forces of the United States.

The conversation Mukasey’s having around the breakfast table, according to HotAir, is whether Hillary Clinton should go to jail and be disqualified from holding public office if she deleted — or directed others to delete — emails from her private server.

Never mind that Colin Powell and Jeb Bush both kept private email accounts while holding their highest offices — in Powell’s case, the same office as Clinton. And never mind that claims of wrongdoing by Clinton concerning her email use have thus far ranged from being overblown to completely debunked.

There are plenty of reasons to be wary of a Clinton presidency, but the conservative media is currently breezing right past them to convince themselves that if she does eventually win the White House, her win won’t count. Like President Obama’s birth certificate, they seem ready to latch on to the mere perception of scandal.

After all, it’s a lot easier to stomp your feet and say the other side cheated than it is to come to grips with the fact that the voters picked someone else.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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29 Responses to “Birtherism 2.0? Conservatives claiming Clinton legally barred from holding office”

  1. Ronald Reagan isn’t a dead radical; he’s a god to be worshiped.

  2. crazymonkeylady says:

    Please, take your medication, dear. You’re overwrought.

  3. Jon Green says:

    “ad homonym”

  4. MyrddinWilt says:

    So a guy who doesn’t think waterboarding counts as torture has a useful opinion on who is qualified to be President?

    The amount of nonsense being talked about the email server is ridiculous. I will try to put something together on this later on this week. As some folk know, I have actually worked on the White House email systems.

    First off, classified material does not go through the email system. Anyone sending classified material through an email system is committing an offense. The State dept has two separate networks, one for handling classified material and one for handling unclassified. The email system is not part of the classified network even if the communications are encrypted.

    The classified network is notoriously user-unfriendly and it is highly unlikely any secretary of state has used it directly. That is what minions are for.

    Secondly ‘should be classified’ material isn’t the same as ‘classified’. There is no statutory definition of what should be classified. That is a matter of agency policy. As the head of the agency, Clinton had the ultimate authority to decide what was and what was not to be classified. Agency memos are completely and utterly irrelevant.

    So all the waffle about whether material should have been classified or not is irrelevant. Clinton was the decider at the time. As the current secretary of state, Kerry can take a different position on the exact same emails but that does not criminalize Clinton’s use.

    Note however that Cheney’s outing of Plame was still criminal because there is a specific law that makes outing a CIA operative criminal. The constitutionality of the law is dubious when applied to a journalist but certainly not when it is applied to a government official.

    Thirdly, the most likely reason Clinton had that mail server was the reasonable expectation that any mail she sent through would be read by the system administrators and selectively leaked. That happened on numerous occasions during the Obama, Bush and Clinton administrations. Snowden is the best known admin who leaked but far from the only one. And rather more of those leakers seem to have been Linda Tripp types with a grudge than folk looking to protect what they saw as the public interest like Snowden.

  5. cambridgemac says:

    The Reptilians don’t believe in democracy and are in fact opposed to it. They believe in the Reptilian Party as the owner of the republic, no different from the way the CPUSSR functioned in the Soviet Union (where the Premier was subordinate to the Party Secretary) and the way Iran functions today. So, claiming that Obama and Clinton were not legitimate presidents and that Hillary won’t be is not a fluke or a weird obsession. It’s what they do. They are a seditious sect.

  6. cambridgemac says:


  7. cambridgemac says:

    Yawn. More stupid.

  8. Tommy Gilchrist says:

    The commentary coming from the right-wing media camp is overblown and old-hat.. I mean, is Ken Starr pulling the strings or something?

  9. Moderator3 says:

    Bye. It wasn’t nice knowing you.

  10. 2karmanot says:

    ‘ADHD interfered withe you ability to read and Comprehend.’ Ah huh….that says it all. Not a good idea to drink your breakfast Bubba and please don’t choke on those Cheetos.

  11. 2karmanot says:


  12. gratuitous says:

    I know! Can you imagine a lame duck Democrat president issuing a bunch of pardons for his criminally accused cronies on the eve of their trial? In the dead of night on Christmas Eve? Oh boy, talk about flouting the law and making it null and void!

    Now that there would be a crime spree, don’t you agree?

  13. nicho says:

    There, their, they’re — give him a brake. He’s a conservative.

  14. therling says:

    Great comment. You’ve managed to demonstrate a lack of understanding of punctuation and capitalization as well as making an ad hominem attack in the same sentence in which you whine about someone else is making an ad “homonyn” attack against you.

  15. Guest says:

    Accused by a Hermaphrodite crazymonkeylady who cant decide if she’s R, G, B,Y, or P , All you have is ad homonym attack , not one fact to dispute my statements. Opinions are like Azzholes and both of yours are in play today. Sorry your ADHD interfered withe you ability to read and Comprehend.

  16. Guest says:

    All that is required is to control The US Justice Department, with that accomplished since 1995 by Janet Reno and Eric Holder in the name of William Jefferson Clinton I’ll let you answer your own question.

  17. UncleBucky says:

    AND… members of the Bush administration COULD STILL BE PROSECUTED, and since the BUSHIES et al. (including Jebya) are first in line, let’s start the prosecution NOW! :P

  18. Bill_Perdue says:

    Democrats are mean to Republicans and vise versa, none of which has any importance at all for the real political battles going on, including the fights to preserve and enlarge unions, end the Democrat/Republican wars of aggression or for the fight to end police murders of people of color.

    Democrat and Republican politicians are all right or right of center based on their membership in the those parties. They’re defined by the Democrat and Republican parties, not by their campaign season lies.

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  20. Naja pallida says:

    I have very little love for the Clintons. They championed some of the worst right-wing pieces of legislation of my lifetime, and not just abstract policies, things that detrimentally impacted my life directly. I likely will not be able to bring myself to vote for Hillary even if she takes the nomination. But the entire Republican party, and their enablers, have been trying to find some crime, preferably one on par with Watergate, to pin on the Clintons for well over 20 years. In all that time all they’ve done is manage to make themselves look like screeching and frothing idiots. At this point there are really only two options: Either the Clintons are magically untouchable, with direct control over the entire judicial system and even Republican-controlled Congresses, and the Republican witch hunters are entirely inept and feckless, incapable of overcoming even the slightest of roadblocks. Or… there is simply nothing substantive to be found. Which do you suppose is actually more likely?

  21. crazymonkeylady says:

    Says the ANONYMOUS blowhard ‘guest’.

  22. nicho says:

    Typical conservative thought process: it’s OK if you’re Republican. Although I do realize it’s risky putting conservative and thought in the same sentence.

  23. BeccaM says:

    Yep, noticed that, too. It’s no wonder some of them have been proposing limits on naturalization and citizenship, as well openly suggesting the vote should be limited to property owners.

  24. BeccaM says:

    You know, capitalization isn’t something that’s supposed to be done at random. It makes you sound unhinged. Unless perhaps that’s what you were aiming for? In which case, good job!

  25. Doug105 says:

    Or to put it another way, Nothing has been proven, other than a bias to find something wrong with the Clinton’s.

  26. Guest says:

    Typical Liberal thought Process. Goes like this, Because someone in the PAST committed a Crime but was never prosecuted, no one today or in the future can be Prosecuted for Committing the same Crime. In plain English, Committing a crime that is never Prosecuted makes the LAW, statute, Regulation invalid now and in the future. The law becomes Null and Void.
    How f’n convenient for the Political Criminal Class that today infests the United States government, Big Pharma, Bankig, etc.

    BTW, Mr. Green nothing of the Clinton Crime spree has been “debunked” except in the minds of Clinton aplogists and fellow Criminals.

  27. devlzadvocate says:

    Interesting how the conservative right also attempts to portray voters for all non-Republican candidates as somehow ineligible to vote at all. “Ineligible” seems to be their MO.

  28. BeccaM says:

    The progressive left attempts to point out the ways in which Republican candidates demonstrate their unfitness for office due to mendacity or inability to formulate coherent proposals or any of a number of “why X is a shitty candidate, so you shouldn’t vote for him or her” reasons.

    The conservative right attempts to portray all non-Republican candidates as somehow ineligible to run for office at all. The ideal Republican ballot is one in which they are unopposed.

    One of these approaches is small-d democratic and representative of a healthy democratic republic. The other is based on authoritarian principles.

    I leave it as an exercise for the reader to line up column A with column B.

  29. Indigo says:

    Well, they’ve got themselves a pre-convicted felon to attack now. That’s how far from the Constitution they like to wander. It’s just a piece of paper, they like to say. Fortunately, they also have precedent for that approach since, as they all imagine, Obama was born a foreigner.

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