Gibbs Zieglerizes, Issa probes: Obama staff, Sestak, Romanoff in misprision of felony?
“There’s a crime called misprision of a felony. Misprision of a felony is when you don’t report a crime. So you’re getting into pretty deep areas here in these considerations.” — U.S. Senator Arlen Specter on March 12, 2010
“Right now, they’re doing the ‘I won’t confirm or deny,’ and for us, it leaves two possibilities. One is the promise of transparency in this administration is just shot. The second one is even worse, which is either Sestak is lying or the administration has done something wrong and is covering it up…” — U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa on Friday on March 12, 2010
“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
Here we go again.
Even as the drama of health care carries the headlines, beneath the surface, visible now, the iceberg of scandal ripples.
First, the timeline on the blossoming scandal upon which we will now officially fix the dreaded “gate” descriptive. Jobsgate.
• September 27, 2009 — The Denver Post reports that Obama White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina allegedly offered a job in the Obama administration to ex-Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff if Romanoff dropped his planned primary challenge to incumbent U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. Romanoff refuses comment and runs anyway.
• February 18, 2010 — Philadelphia TV anchor Larry Kane reports that on his just taped Comcast show, he had asked Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak, who is challenging incumbent Senator Arlen Specter whether it was true that the Obama administration had offered Sestak a job if he would withdraw from his primary challenge to Specter. Sestak answers “yes,” specifically saying the offer came from someone in the White House and that he, Sestak, turned down the offer. Sestak refuses to name who it was that made the offer. Two hours later, Kane calls the White House, plays them the tape, and asks for comment. The White House never calls him back.
• February 22, 2010 — In a column here in this space, both the Sestak and Romanoff stories are reported with new information: to offer jobs for favors is in fact a federal crime, and Sestak is in effect accusing the Obama White House of doing just that, just as the Denver Post, months earlier, effectively reported the same activity with Romanoff.
• February 22, 2010 — ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper asks Obama White House press secretary Robert Gibbs for a reaction to the charge by Congressman Sestak. Replies Gibbs: “I was traveling for a couple of days, as you know. I haven’t looked into this.” He promises to get answers.
• March 1, 2010 — Seven days later, with no answers produced, Gibbs is asked again, this time by Fox News White House correspondent Major Garrett, Gibbs responds: “I have not made any progress on that. I was remiss on this and I apologize.”
• March 9, 2010 — Fifteen days later, Major Garrett asks again. Below, from the transcript provided by the White House:
Q A couple of quick political ones. On the Sestak issue, Arlen Specter said on another — this afternoon that Sestak and his opinion on this allegation that he was offered a job not to run against Specter, needs to prove it, needs to back it up, and claims that Sestak’s accusation is hurting the White House, damaging its reputation. You told us a couple of times you’d check back on this. Can you give us an update, number one? And number two —
MR. GIBBS: I don’t have the update with me, but let me check and see if I do have anything —
Q Do you have any evaluation of Senator Specter’s comments on this?
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