Two President Clintons — The Conflict of Interest (Legally)

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It never occurred to our nation’s founders that we could end up with two presidents in the White House who are married to each other, but that is the possibility we now face.  

A close friend of the Clintons has said for years that when they both “are dead and gone, each of them will be buried next to a president of the United States.”   It is an idea that the Clintons began talking about decades ago, says the Wall Street Journal

In 1992, Bill Clinton said in an interview, “Eight years of Hillary Clinton?  Why not?”

Wall Street Journal asks some provoking questions in a story originally published prior to the 2008 election:

“Imagine being asked to serve as her running mate, knowing that her husband would be far more influential than any vice president. What would a potential secretary of state face now that Sen. Clinton has already said she would use her husband as ambassador to the world? As a former president, would Mr. Clinton read the daily intelligence briefing? His unofficial portfolio would potentially overlap with everyone in authority, without his being subject to Senate confirmation.”

A law prohibits any government official from appointing a relative to a job “over which that official has authority or control.”   So Bill Clinton could not be appointed as a cabinet member – but his close involvement still raises questions about conflicts of interest, transparency and accountability.

While Mr. Clinton’s return to the West Wing wouldn’t directly violate the 22nd Amendment — designed to limit a president to two terms in office — it has significant implications because of the unusual nature of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s marriage, which is such a deeply entwined political duopoly that “it has always been hard to distinguish who played what role,” according to their longtime friend Mickey Kantor.

Many voters, especially Democrats, would welcome Mr. Clinton’s experience as a great asset to his wife’s administration. But given the Clintons’ long history of close consultation, their partnership could end up distorting the way the executive branch is supposed to function — regardless of the talents each of them might bring to the White House.

 

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