Saturday, December 10, 2011

Former Obama lawyer admits Walpin deception

Byron York at the The Washington Examiner gets an "A" for tenacity.  Two years ago, I wrote about the politically motivated firing of Gerald Walpin by the Obama administration.  Now, in what would be a stunning revelation in an accountable democratic republic, comes an admission that Obama administration officials lied in order to protect an Obama supporter and torpedo the career and reputation of an honorable career public servant.

Walpin had made some CNCS political appointees unhappy by tenaciously investigating misuse of AmeriCorps funds by Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star who is now mayor of Sacramento, California and a prominent supporter of President Obama. When Grassley and other lawmakers found out that Walpin had been summarily fired, and that a political motive might be involved, they demanded an explanation.

There was no doubt the White House had failed to give Walpin 30 days' notice, but on the substance of the matter, Eisen told congressional investigators the White House had done a full investigation of complaints about Walpin's performance and the CNCS board had unanimously supported Walpin's removal.

Neither statement was true.

Republican investigators released a report on the matter that was strongly critical of White House actions, and particularly Eisen's actions, in the Walpin firing.  As it turned out, even though interest in Walpin faded, Eisen's statements would come back to haunt him, because in June 2010 President Obama decided to nominate Eisen to be U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic.  The job, of course, requires Senate confirmation.  And that means any senator can stop a nomination.  So in September 2010, Grassley announced that he was placing a hold -- not a secret hold, but an entirely public one -- on Eisen's nomination.  Grassley specifically cited Eisen's "lack of candor" about the Walpin matter.
Before he would lift the hold, Grassley wanted the White House to admit that Eisen had lied.  The White House declined.  Facing a deadlock, President Obama recess-appointed Eisen to the ambassadorial post.  Of course, the recess appointment was temporary, and now it is running out.  The White House faced a choice: give up on Eisen or re-submit his nomination and 'fess up to deceiving Grassley so that Eisen might ultimately be confirmed.

The White House chose to 'fess up -- sort of. After weeks of back-and-forth, Eisen has written a letter to Grassley admitting he did not tell congressional investigators the truth.  Concerning his claim that the CNCS board unanimously supported Walpin's removal before the White House acted, Eisen writes, "To be clear, at that time, CNCS board members did not express to the White House, verbally or otherwise, unanimous support for the removal of Mr. Walpin."
Scooter Libby lost his job, was convicted of a felony and disbarred for obstructing and lying to federal investigators.  What a contrast....  Eisen 'fesses up to lying to Congress in a federal investigation and all is forgiven.