Will Edwards Be Promised the AG Position?

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This weekend, famed outer of CIA agents Robert Novak dropped a juicy rumor:

Illinois Democrats close to Sen. Barack Obama are quietly passing the word that John Edwards would be named attorney general in an Obama administration.

Any truth to it?  As an Edwards fan, I'd love it.  But of all the people you'd want in the loop on this sort of thing, you'd think Robert Novak would be about the last choice.  So I certainly didn't take his word for it.

It's clear that the trial lawyers' lobby would also love Edwards in that position.  But in trying to hunt down the truth, I ran across an interesting tidbit:

Terry McAuliffe, Clinton's campaign chairman, spent two days at the trial lawyers' conference, delicately searching for donors among the -- mostly -- Edwards faithful. He said he was asked several times about the potential for Edwards to have a role within a potential Clinton administration, and the topic of attorney general did come up. But McAuliffe noted it would be a felony to promise someone a cabinet post in exchange for political support.

Oh, Terry McAuliffe, you goody two-shoes you.  A felony?  Whatever could you mean?

18 U.S.C. 599.  Promise of appointment by candidate

Whoever, being a candidate, directly or indirectly promises or pledges the appointment, or the use of his influence or support for the appointment of any person to any public or private position or employment, for the purpose of procuring support in his candidacy shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if the violation was willful, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

It's actually not clear whether this statute is even constitutional.  But suffice it to say, if you're looking for either Clinton or Obama to explicitly confirm that they've struck some kind of deal with Edwards to make him the AG, this is the reason why you won't be hearing it.  I found this interesting so I thought I would share.

As a bonus, for making it all the way through my diary, I have a Douchebag of Liberty video to share.  Can Jon Stewart have a Cabinet post?

Tags: attorney general, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Robert Novak, Terry McAuliffe (all tags)



Re: Robert Novak, Douchebag of Liberty

Fascinating.  What does this mean for the "brokered convention" narrative we heard so much about recently?  Sounds like that also would be illegal.  Then again, I'm not sure how you'd ever convict someone of this particular crime:

"I supported him BEFORE he promised to make me A.G."
"No you didn't."
"Yes I did."

by the mollusk 2008-01-30 07:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Robert Novak, Douchebag of Liberty

I think there would be a lot of nudging and winking involved.

I don't think anyone is under the illusion that there would ever be a prosecution under this statute - certainly not if Attorney General Edwards were the one enforcing it! - but by the same token, no one will want to flagrantly violate it, either.

by Steve M 2008-01-30 07:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Robert Novak, Douchebag of Liberty

Exactly... if you said, I would love your support... I think you'd be an excellent Attorney General... Etc, you'd be all set.

In regards to Novak... yep, he's a douche... BUT he is a Chicago guy, so it shouldn't surprise that he might have heard this... I doubt the campaign actually told him... I'm sure he heard it from a friend of a friend of a friend kind of deal.

by yitbos96bb 2008-01-30 03:10PM | 0 recs

its funny that the Huffington was promoting the rumor as it were fact-on its front page for a couple of days or more. We all know Huffington supports Obama.

Intersting diary.

by lonnette33 2008-01-30 07:24AM | 0 recs
Ah, HuffPo...

The great online political gossip mag of our time! Yep, after that particularly disgraceful pushing of this completely false rumor, I still don't know why so many folks trust that site.

by atdleft 2008-01-30 09:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Robert Novak, Douchebag of Liberty

After skimming the Volokh link and Brown v Hartlett, I think this statute may indeed be unconstitutional (it's probably too vague and overly broad, for one thing, which matters in First Amendment challenges). But, thanks for pointing it out. I had no idea such promises were prohibited by law.

by DPW 2008-01-30 07:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Robert Novak, Douchebag of Liberty

I learned something new about politics today; well, I hope this means that Edwards supporters can chose their second choice freely based on their convictions and not on political patronage from either camp.

by ejintx 2008-01-30 07:51AM | 0 recs
No, there really isn't!

Novak's a hack, and nothing more. I never had any respect for him, but I've come to loathe that lying sack of crap after he did Cheney's bidding in outing covert CIA agent Valerie Plame. He's a journalistic disgrace, and I'd never believe ANYTHING he says.

by atdleft 2008-01-30 09:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Will Edwards Be Promised the AG Position?

Novak is a liar, a rumor monger and no friend to Democrats, so we shouldn't listen to a word he says. I think he wrote that column to try to convince Edwards supporters to switch to Obama because he knows the GOP will tear Obama to pieces (with Novak leading the pack, diligently reporting every smear he can imagine).

Besides, I've been saying that Edwards would be a good AG for Clinton for weeks. I'd love to unleash him on the all of the corrupt members of the current administration.

by LakersFan 2008-01-30 09:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Will Edwards Be Promised the AG Position?

Ew!!!  Warn me next time before I click on a post and see a big pic of the Douchebag of Liberty!  I was trying to eat.

OTOH, I think John would make a grand AG, for either Hillary or Obama.

by WMCB 2008-01-30 10:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Will Edwards Be Promised the AG Position?

I don't think it would be surprising if Edwards endorses after the debate using that as the separation between his decision to drop out and his decision to endorse.  I'm sure there have been discussions with both candidates about possible roles in their administration without specific quid pro quo deals.

by Piuma 2008-01-30 10:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Will Edwards Be Promised the AG Position?

I figure Edwards is looking for a job and wants to keep his options open. If he stays on the sidelines he will be in a better position to lobby the winner for the AG spot.

Now, if he is a real fighter for change he will endorse Obama before Super Tuesday. We'll see.

by JoeCoaster 2008-01-30 10:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Will Edwards Be Promised the AG Position?

Everyone knew Colin Powell was going to be Sec of State for Dubya, but Dubya couldn't announce it before he was elected for the same reason.

by HippoRider 2008-01-30 10:44AM | 0 recs
Thanks for an informative diary

I had no idea about that statute.

I don't see Jon Stewart in the cabinet but he would make a capable press secretary.

by Satya 2008-01-30 12:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Thanks for an informative diary

He would make a fantastic press secretary, if the Daily Show were somehow cancelled (no please no!)

On the other hand I think the Daily Show should be given press credentials by the White House if we win... wouldn't it be great to have one of their reporters in the briefings.

by JDF 2008-01-30 12:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Will Edwards Be Promised the AG Position?

For all the talk of Edwards as AG, I'm not sure that's the best place for him. I think something along the lines of Secretary of Labor would be more useful. Goodness knows we need some enforcement of labor laws.

by OrangeFur 2008-01-30 01:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Will Edwards Be Promised the AG Position?

man you're getting the hang of these diary thingys!

second this month! and REC'd! its cuz ur awesome!

hehe - oh and I think douchebag is too nice

by sepulvedaj3 2008-01-30 01:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Will Edwards Be Promised the AG Position?

You tickle my funny bone.

by Steve M 2008-01-30 01:53PM | 0 recs


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