May 25, 2010

"My gut feeling here is that Sestak is holding this alleged proffer of a job over the White House's head to try and make sure that the West Wing does everything it can to support his candidacy."

"That's bothersome, because it means that someone believes they can use an allegation to divert the attention and resources of the seat of government. I also think the White House, and Rahm, have plausible legal-political-practical defenses. Moreover, Sestak might have decided to overstate the terms of the proffer -- maybe Rahm just floated the idea -- to puff up the drama to the story. The admiral was known for being a savvy political player when he was on active duty."

A nasty mess.

ADDED: Blackfive quotes Sestak's pathetic stonewalling on "Meet the Press" and says:
[T]he fact that Joe Sestak -- even after being called a liar by Robert Gibbs -- has not come forward and made a statement to the authorities about felony corruption he claims to have witnessed says something about Joe Sestak.  And what it says is this:  Joe Sestak is either a coward, a liar, a political sycophant or -- and this is where I'd put my money -- all three of these things.  
(Via Fen, in the comments here.)

34 comments:

Drew said...

Is this another incident where Rahm was holding meetings in the shower room? Maybe the acoustics are so bad people keep misunderstanding him.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"A nasty mess."

Really? That's all you have to say?

Here we have the President of the United States committing a felony in attempting to bribe a candidate for public office.

And all you have to say is that it's a "nasty mess?"

Is your silence because you voted for Barack Obama, Ann?

If John McCain were bribing public officials, would you write a longer post calling for an special prosecutor?

Is the President of the United States above the law?

Ann?

Ann?

Are you there Ann?

Eric said...

A nasty mess of their own manufacture, as most of them are.

Original Mike said...

My gut feeling is that Sestak fucked up. (Though that's not to say I think Sestak is the bad guy here. I do not.)

Darcy said...

I know! Let's come up with the most charitable spin we can for the White House's part in this allegation. After all, it's pretty far-fetched to believe they'd be attempting to bribe anyone at all.

*cough*

Paul Zrimsek said...

It's another Typical Distraction!

A hack's hack, that Ambinder.

Original Mike said...

Ambinder says: "Grade A bullshit,"

Yes.

"Number one, having asked chief of staff Rahm Emanuel whether he in fact made the offer, White House lawyers seemed to be satisfied that the language was equivocal enough."

Ambinder knows this how?

"Number two, all the noise has been coming from the right -- a partisan right that's eager to delegitimize the Obama government."

So? We'd expect the noise to come from people like Ambinder?

"Number three, Sestak was never threatened with anything; at best, he was given options, neither one of which involved harm to his political or personal aspirations."

Ambinder knows this how?

He was right about the bullshit part, though.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that we have two, possibly not fully conflicting, alternatives. Either Sestak is stupid. Or there are people high up in the the Administration who committed a felony.

But before we all assume that this is Sestak simplifying and not fully understanding what happened, keep in mind that those at the top of the Administration, including the President himself, come from the Chicago School of politics, where government jobs offered in trade for things has a long and honored history. After all, we are talking the city of Al Capone, as well as the Daley clan.

Fen said...

Blackfive nails it:

"I'd like to make a couple of observations about his claim to have been offered a position in the administration by the White House in return for ending his primary challenge to Arlen Specter. The first is that if indeed this offer was made by one or more members of the Obama administration, it was corruption, a felony. The second is that it was Joe Sestak's legal obligation as an American, and more importantly his duty as a retired Admiral, to report it to the authorities as soon as it happened.

I think the fact that Joe Sestak -- even after being called a liar by Robert Gibbs -- has not come forward and made a statement to the authorities about felony corruption he claims to have witnessed says something about Joe Sestak. And what it says is this: Joe Sestak is either a coward, a liar, a political sycophant or -- and this is where I'd put my money -- all three of these things."


http://www.blackfive.net/main/2010/05/in-which-the-token-blackfive-liberal-challenges-newly-minted-senator-joe-sestak.html

Original Mike said...

@Bruce: Sestak may be "stupid" in the sense he wasn't thinking about the consequences of what he said to the press (an unguarded moment, perhaps). Personally, I find it unlikely that he didn't understand whatever conversation he had with the White House.

Ann Althouse said...

Sestak is in big trouble here, because he is telling half of the story and he refuses to finish. Acting coy about it. What the hell happened? Don't bring it up and then hold back what we need to know? What was he offered and by whom? He won't say. Why? Because he was lying? Exaggerating? Because he needs their help now? He got himself into a jam. But, sure, investigate.

Original Mike said...

Ambinder said: "Number three, Sestak was never threatened with anything; at best, he was given options, neither one of which involved harm to his political or personal aspirations."

Upon reflection, I find it odd that Ambinder finds it necessary to make this assertion. I haven't followed this closely (I am having a hard time getting worked up about it; it does happen all the time), but has there been an allegation that Sestak was threatened?

Ann Althouse said...

I wrote my comment before reading that Blackfive material, btw.

Roger J. said...

With respect to Adm Sestak: you dont get to rise to flag rank by being stupid and that includes knowing how the game is played. I think the Admiral is the naval equivalent of Gen Clark--when flags get involved in politics,they seem to have problems. Adm Sestak it appears to me to have some 'splaining to do.

mccullough said...

Sestak's refusal to tell the whole story creates the controversy here.

Offering him a job in the administration to drop out of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic primary race is not remotely close to a crime.

He should say what happened.

Ralph L said...

So Ambinder says the WH isn't worried and has done nothing wrong, but Sestak has something to hold over their heads.

garage mahal said...

Just keep walking. This might rip our entire democracy apart if we investigate.

holdfast said...

I see some juicy Republican commercials with Sestak and the WH calling each other liars.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Darcy nails it. It was hilarious watching Chuck Todd tie himself in knots defending Obama on morning Joe today. There was a time when journalists at least pretended that they had a responsibility to the public. That era has clearly come and gone.

holdfast said...

I read the WH defense as basically being "this is just the give and take of politics, and if it isn't you can't prove anything, so we did nothing wrong".

That is sort of true, in that there are deals like this all the time - the offer to make Judd Gregg Commerce Secretary, making John McHugh Army Secretary, appointing John Huntsman as Ambassador to China, etc. - all basically appointments to take an inconvenient player off the board, but legal in that the President can appoint anyone so long as they don't pay him off.

There might be a problem is the quid pro quo was more explicit - and this WH is arrogant enough that they just might have screwed up - remember, they did graduate from the same political soup as Rod Blagojevich.

Still, it doesn't really matter - since we have a Dem candidate for Senator calling the WH staff liars, and vice versa.

Joe "Bribery" Sestak, Rambo Blumenthal, WWE's Linda McMahon and Nutty Rand Paul. 2010 is shaping up to be a really field of winners.

AJ Lynch said...

They put Obama's Illinois senate seat out for bid. So naturally the White House saw a value in Pennsylvania's senate seat.

edutcher said...

All of this is interesting since pollster Pat Caddell is saying Specter was thrown under the legendary bus to make room for Sestak, which makes more sense, if you think about it.

In the end, they'll probably be sharing it.

Jason said...

The Secretary of the Navy job is a fucking valuable thing. You don't just give it away for nothing.

Maguro said...

Sestak as Secretary of the Navy would have been pretty funny, considering that he was pretty much fired from his job as Vice Chief of Naval Operations by ADM Mullen, the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Would have made for some awkward meetings in the Pentagon.

I wonder if the White House was aware of all that stuff when they made their offer.

Fen said...

Offering him a job in the administration to drop out of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic primary race is not remotely close to a crime.

It is a felony.

"U.S. Law states that it is a felony to offer a candidate for public office anything of substance, such as a job, in exchange for that candidate dropping out of a race.

To offer the Secretary of the Navy job - something of value - in consideration for doing something in the WH's favor - allowing their hand-picked boy to run unopposed - is clearly a bribe, and a bribe is a felony."

Also:

"There’s a crime called misprision of a felony. Misprision of a felony is when you don’t report a crime."

Chase said...

As much as I would love to believe that the WH Effed itself up into a felony - Oh PLEASE, PLEASE let it be! - there's obviously nothing there or Sestak would have done it by now.

As the old country prosecutor in the case that convicted Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald for murdering his family, repeatedly told the jury,"Don't you know if he could (provide evidence in his favor), he would".

Issob Morocco said...

Clever by half comes to mind with this real life Captain Peachfuzz. I believe Joe needed a trump card to seize the Dem nod, played some minor discussion into a story to inflame his base, who have no love for Specter.

Now he has won, and if I were Toomey I would every day ask Joe to answer, "Who offered you a job and what was that job?", until he answers. The longer this goes the bigger the story becomes. Like Watergate it is the cover up that made more news than the break in.

Where is Paul Harvey when we need to know the rest of the story?

Palladian said...

Why does a so-called journalist (Ambinder) call Rahm Emmanuel by his first name three times in the essay? Does it make you feel comfortable when a journalist is so chummy with the Administration that he breezily refers to officials by their first names in an article in the Atlantic?

Kind of makes my skin crawl. Of course, that's generally my reaction to reading anything in the Atlantic. It's the proximity of Sullivan I think.

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...

is not remotely close to a crime.

18 USC Section 595

Interference by administrative employees of Federal, State, or Territorial Governments

Whoever, being a person employed in any administrative position by the United States... uses his official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, Presidential elector, Member of the Senate... shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

http://law.onecle.com/uscode/18/595.html


And the bonus round:

"who may only be impeached and removed for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and ..."

Fen said...

So Sestak has accused the President of an impeachable offense. One of their heads needs to roll, either Sestak or Obama.

Methadras said...

Alleged political bribery come political blackmail? Really? No, I don't believe it. How can a Democrat even think such a thing. Oh my gawd, it can't be true. I refuse to believe it. LALALALALALALALALALALALA!!!!

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"Offering him a job in the administration to drop out of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic primary race is not remotely close to a crime."

It is a crime. You can go read the law here.

http://law.onecle.com/uscode/18/595.html

It is a felony to offer anyone anything to get them to drop out of a race for certain political offices such as a seat in the House of Representatives. It is a federal offense. A felony punishable by a minimum mandatory sentence of 5 years in prison.

If it were not a crime, then the White House would not have their lawyers looking at the conversations after-the-fact and allegedly passing judgment on them.

Marc Ambinder has revealed himself to be a member of the Obama regime. He has no way of knowing if, in fact, Obama's lawyers "seemed to be satisfied" that the language was equivocal enough.

Ambinder: "Number one, having asked chief of staff Rahm Emanuel whether he in fact made the offer, White House lawyers seemed to be satisfied that the language was equivocal enough.

The "White House" doesn't have lawyers, Mr. Ambinder. The White House is merely a building located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. The President has lawyers, but the White House is a building ... not a person. A building cannot hire lawyers.

And I'm pretty sure that Marc Ambinder is not privy to what Barack Obama's laywers are advisign the President since lawyers are required to maintain confidentiality on behalf of their clients.

There is a cover-up of a felony crime occurring and Marc Ambinder increasingly looks like a member of the conspiracy attempting to make this case go away.

It will not work.

The President of the United States is not above the law and we are a nation of laws.

Whenever the President in the past has been accused of felony crimes, a special prosecutor has been appointed to oversee an impartial investigation.

The moment that Republicans control the House of Representatives, a Congressional investigation of this crime and the conspiracy to cover up this crime should be undertaken.

Witnesses - including Joe Sestak - should be compelled by subpoena to appear in front of the Congressional Committee and sworn to give their truthful testimony.

It is only in this way that we can get to the bottom of this crime.

Mitch H. said...

Arbinder's so far up the White House's ass he's taxonomically indistinguishable from a tapeworm.

Just keep walking. This might rip our entire democracy apart if we investigate.

Is this sarcasm? Sometimes I can't tell...

All of this is interesting since pollster Pat Caddell is saying Specter was thrown under the legendary bus to make room for Sestak, which makes more sense, if you think about it.

Pfft, if Caddell said it, then Caddell's an idiot. Specter stumbled and fell under the bus. You don't tell a Democratic electorate that you regret joining their party right before a contested primary, that's just suicidally stupid. Either he's going senile - and given the performance I saw him give at a town hall last year, I don't think that's the case - or he was just tired.

So Sestak has accused the President of an impeachable offense.

No, he accused an anonymous WH staffer of this crime. I can't imagine that it was the president himself, it just doesn't seem likely. *Maybe* Axelrod or Emanuel, but I find the prospect of it being some pompous 25-year-old windbag of a junior aide much, much more plausible.