Bill Clinton Offered Sestak The “Non-Paying Advisory Job”– UPDATED: “Sestakgate”?

UPDATES over at LibertyPundits. Link here.

Well, as far as attention grabbing political-junkie headlines go, this one is a doozy. Problem is, I don’t believe a word of it. Greg Sargent of The Plum Line at the Washington Post has the exclusive:

Senior White House advisers asked former President Bill Clinton to talk to Joe Sestak about whether he was serious about running for Senate, and to feel out whether he’d be open to other alternatives, according to sources familiar with the situation.

But the White House maintains that the Clinton-Sestak discussions were informal, according to the sources. The White House, under pressure to divulge the specifics of its interactions with Sestak, will release a formal statement later today outlining their version of events, including Clinton’s involvement.

According to the sources, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel asked Clinton and his longtime adviser, lawyer Doug Band, to talk to Sestak about the race. It’s unclear right now whether the White House will say that Clinton was asked to suggest specific administration positions for Sestak, whether Clinton floated positions on his own, whether Clinton discussed other options not related to the adminstration, or whether employment even came up at all in the talks.

But the news that Clinton is at the center of this whole story is noteworthy on its own because of the former president’s stature, and underscores how heavily invested the White House was in dissuading Sestak from running. The White House sent Clinton to talk to Sestak because Arlen Specter, constituting the 60th Dem vote in the Senate, was viewed as key to enacting Obama’s agenda.

The White House maintains that Clinton’s overtures to Sestak merely constituted an effort to gauge his seriousness about the race, the sources say, adding that Clinton was informally discussing the range of options open to Sestak as part of a larger conversation meant to ascertain Sestak’s thinking.

I’ve been unable to ascertain precisely what Clinton discussed with Sestak in terms of his future options, but the release of the White House’s formal response will clear that up.

Wow, this is just ridiculous. How long did it take these people to craft the perfect cover story?

First, is it really Clinton who had the strong-arm discussion?

Second, it is awfully convenient that someone talks on behalf of the President but is not IN the administration.

Third, and the job is non-paid? How convenient.

This story stinks to high heaven. Also note that it’s dropping before Memorial Day weekend. Will the press be their usual lazy selves and not report and investigate this? Probably.

UPDATED:

AJ Strata has an excellent post and notes that Marc Ambinder says it was Rahm Emanuel who spoke with Sestak. “Curious but not unexpected,” says AJ.

AJ also notes, and with videos (go watch, it’s pretty damning) this:

In numerous other interviews in February and March of this year Sestak confirmed he was offered a job by the White House in July of 2009 to drop out of the race against Specter. All Sestak would confirm is it was a high level job (bribe), akin to Secretary of the Navy:

AND this:

Whether Sestak wants to provide more details or not is irrelevant. He admitted that a felony may have been committed because a federal employee tried to bribe him in exchange for a political favor (leaving the primary). The fact that Sestak and the White House are not providing any more details on this now admitted set of conversations (I doubt there was just one) means there is some fire behind this lame smoke screen. If everything was legal, they would be racing to the teleprompters in the WH to show their innocence.

For months we have seen the opposite. In complete Nixonian tradition, the Obama WH claims it reviewed its own actions and cleared itself. More evidence of fire somewhere burning out of control. Even some democrat leaders are calling for complete transparency.

Yeah, well, I don’t expect any transparency here.

Ed Morrissey talks about plausible deniability:

Having someone outside of the administration as a buffer would be very convenient for Obama at this juncture. It allows Obama to offload the blame to someone other than a staffer. And like all buffers, it provides the President with plausible deniability for any legal problems that might ensue.

That doesn’t mean that it’s also not true. After all, the idea of plausible deniability has a long, if inglorious, history in American politics. The film The Godfather, Part II has one character, Joe Cicci, laughing while he tells a Congressional committee that the Corleone family had “lots of buffers.” Buffers exist because they’re practical and they work, especially in politics. Even if no criminal intent existed, a buffer for this kind of mission would be essential. It would be hard to imagine either Barack Obama or Rahm Emanuel tasking themselves with the job of pushing Sestak out of the Pennsylvania primary.

In an update, Ed asks:

What kind of unpaid position would be attractive enough to get Sestak out of the Senate primary? That’s a darned good question, and I’ll bet the Obama White House is scrambling to make up find an answer. If Sestak challenges this spin, though, I’d be very surprised. I think he’s looking for an exit from this scandal at least as hard as Obama and his staff.

As Newsbusters notes, the Sestak story isn’t the only evil being done by this administration.

UPDATED AGAIN:

Here’s the full Memo from Robert F. Bauer, White House Counsel. Can you say CYA?

SUBJECT: Review of Discussion Relating to Congressman Sestak

Recent press reports have reflected questions and speculation about discussions between White House staff and Congressman Joe Sestak in relation to his plans to run for the United States Senate. Our office has reviewed those discussions and claims made about them, focusing in particular on the suggestion that government positions may have been improperly offered to the Congressman to dissuade him from pursing a Senate candidacy.

We have concluded that allegations of improper conduct rest on factual errors and lack a basis in the law.

Secretary of the Navy. It has been suggested that the administration may have offered Congressman Sestak the position of Secretary of the Navy in the hope that he would accept the offer and abandon a Senate candidacy. This is false. The President announced his intent to nominate Ray Mabus to be Secretary of the Navy on March 26, 2009, over a month before Senator Specter announced that he was becoming a member of the Democratic Party in late April. Mabus was confirmed in May. At no time was Congressman Sestak offered, nor did he seek, the position of Secretary of the Navy.

Uncompensated Advisory Board Options. We found that Congressman has publicly and accurately stated, options for Executive Branch service were raised with him. Efforts were made in June and July of 2009 to determine whether Congressman Sestak would be interested in service on a Presidential or other Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board, which would avoid a divisive Senate primary, allow him to retain his seat in the House, and provide him with an opportunity for additional service to the public in a high-level advisory capacity for which he was highly qualified. The advisory positions discussed with Congressman Sestak, while important to the work of the Administration, would have been uncompensated.

White House staff did not discuss these options with Congressman Sestak. The White House Chief of Staff enlisted the support of former President Clinton who agreed to raise with Congressman Sestak options of service on a Presidential or other Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board. Congressman Sestak declined the suggested alternatives, remaining committed to his Senate candidacy.

Relationship to Senate Campaign. It has been suggested that discussion of alternatives to the Senate campaign were improperly raised with the Congressman. There was no such impropriety. The Democratic Party leadership had a legitimate interest in averting a divisive primary fight and a similarly legitimate concern about the Congressman vacating his seat in the House. By virtue of his career in public service, including distinguished military service, Congressman Sestak was viewed to be highly qualified to hold a range of advisory positions in which he could, while holding his House seat, have additional responsibilities of considerable potential interest to him and value to the Executive Branch.

There have been numerous, reported instances in the past when prior Administrations – both Democratic and Republican, and motivated by the same goals – discussed alternative paths to service for qualified individuals also considering campaigns for public office. Such discussions are fully consistent with the relevant law and ethical requirements.

XXX

Rush Limbaugh says, “I guess we know why Clinton and Obama had lunch yesterday. They had to get the story straight.”

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