Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Jobsgate": Rep. Issa to call for a special prosecutor to investigate Sestak claim

Earlier this month, I explored the apparent stonewall from the White House regarding Rep. Joe Sestak's claim that a representative of the administration offered him a job in exchange for dropping his bid to unseat Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.  Today GOP Rep. Darryl Issa told CBS News that he will call for a special prosecutor to investigate the claim if the White House doesn't provide a satisfactory response (Photo: CBS):
"If the public doesn't receive a satisfactory answer, the next step would be to call for a special prosecutor, which is well within the statute," Issa (pictured) told Hotsheet. [snip]

In an interview Wednesday, Issa stood by the notion that the White House is engaged in a cover up.

"I believe not answering our questions when in fact they have asked and gotten them answered" meets the standard for a cover up, he said. He compared the Obama White House to that of former President Richard Nixon and said it was not living up to its promises of transparency.

"Democrats, when they were not in the White House, had real objections to that idea of, 'whatever I want to do is OK,'" he said, referencing objections to Bush administration policy. "The public has a right to know who asked what, when. A congressman has made an allegation that is likely a felony."

Issa said that if he doesn't receive "satisfactory answers" to his letter by its April 5th deadline, "then the next step would be to call for a special prosecutor to investigate."

He said it is now "a lot easier" for the White House to respond because Gibbs "has the raw information that we asked for." Asked if he expected his call for a special prosecutor to be answered, Issa said, "I'm a practicing Christian, I have always believed in the redemption of souls." He said that if the issue generates enough publicity Democrats may feel forced to appoint a prosecutor out of "the fear of the voters."

Issa said that while backroom dealing is not uncommon in politics, an explicit quid pro quo arrangement crosses the line, and that there is no way to know exactly what happened until either Sestak or the White House provides details. Asked why he was taking up the fight, he pointed to efforts by Democrats on the House Oversight committee to examine Bush administration e-mails and the Valerie Plame matter and said he had the right to look into any potential violation of the Hatch Act.

"I'm not going to let this issue go away between now and November until it's resolved," Issa said.

"I think an unanswered allegation of a criminal activity is one that even a back burner boil will eventually lead to steam rising," he added. "I don't believe the question will stop being asked until original source information is delivered."

Asked if he wanted to comment on Issa's intention to seek a special prosecutor in the case, Gibbs said he would say "nothing more than what I said last week."
Jeffrey Lord at the Phildelphia Bulletin has written an excellent article about the Sestak kerfuffle and reminds his readers of an apropos quote from convicted Watergate conspirator John Dean:
“The ‘stonewall strategy’ functioned from the very first episodes of the cover-up. It was instinctive, from the very top of the Administration to the bottom. It was also ad hoc, developed in small reactions to the flurry of each day’s events…we found ourselves trying to hold a line where we could.” — Nixon White House Counsel John Dean in his Watergate book Blind Ambition.

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