Did White House try to cover up FLOTUS connection to Walpin firing?

posted at 9:30 am on December 14, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When Congress began investigating the termination of Inspector General Gerald Walpin, they demanded information from Alan Solomont, who chaired the Corporation for National and Community Service that Walpin oversaw, to determine what kind of influence the White House exerted in that process.  Walpin’s termination came after he objected to a settlement of fraud charges relating to an Obama ally, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, and critics suspected political motivations behind the firing.  Solomont insisted that he had only discussed the situation with White House counsel Greg Craig, Norman Eisen (who did the firing), and three officials from the Office of Social Innovation.  But as Byron York reports today, newly released documents have forced Solomont to contradict himself on whether he consulted with the First Lady’s staff on Walpin:

During that interview, Solomont was asked to give the names of people at the White House with whom he had discussed Corporation business.  He cited five people — White House counsel Gregory Craig, counsel’s office lawyer Norman Eisen, and three officials from something called the White House Office of Social Innovation.  Then Solomont was asked with whom he had specifically discussed the inspector general matter.  He said Craig and Eisen. According to investigators, Solomont did not mention Norris in response to either question.  Then, he was specifically asked whether he had talked with Norris.  He said no.

GOP investigators were particularly curious about Norris because First Lady Michelle Obama had taken a special interest in national service, and notes from a March conference call of the Corporation’s board said that Mrs. Obama “will be playing a central role in the national service agenda.”  Investigators also discovered that the First Lady had been “tasked with appointing the Corporation’s next Chief Executive Officer,” according to a report released last month by Grassley and Issa.  In addition, on June 4, the White House announced that Norris was leaving the First Lady’s office to become a senior adviser at the Corporation.  Taken together, those events prompted investigators to ask whether the First Lady’s office played any role in the Walpin affair.

But Solomont denied talking to Norris. Then, in November, White House visitor logs showed that Solomont had been to the White House 17 times between President Obama’s inauguration and the July 15 interview, and had met with Norris on three of those occasions, including June 9. In a follow-up interview conducted December 8, Republican investigators asked Solomont why he had not previously disclosed his meetings with Norris.

According to a number of sources, White House staff who accompanied Solomont objected to the question, accusing investigators of trying to create a “gotcha” situation.  “Cutting short the questioning on this issue indicated an unusually defensive posture on the part of White House staff, including a lawyer from the Counsel’s office,” wrote Issa in the letter to Solomont. At that point, according to Issa, Solomont insisted he had mentioned his meetings with Norris during that first interview with investigators on July 15.  The Republicans were flabbergasted.  “This is simply false,” Issa wrote to Solomont.  “The notes and recollections of multiple staff in the room at the time are clearly contrary to your recollection.” Finally, Solomont told investigators that he had discussed Corporation business, but not the Walpin matter, with Norris.

There are no transcripts or recordings of either session, but staff members on both sides took extensive notes.

Republican investigators also want to know more about a series of events, some of them involving Norris, that occurred in the days leading up to Walpin’s firing.  In his letter, Issa wrote that on June 4, the day Norris was appointed to her new job at the Corporation, “the White House was in the midst of deliberating action regarding Mr. Walpin.”  The day before, June 3, Solomont sent an email to Eisen, the White House counsel’s office lawyer, discussing possible temporary replacements for Walpin, and also giving Eisen Walpin’s contact numbers, which on June 10 Eisen used to call Walpin and fire him.  “In light of all this,” Issa wrote to Solomont, “it seems highly implausible that you would meet with Ms. Norris on June 9, 2009 and not discuss the IG.  Yet, you claimed in your December 8, 2009 interview that you only discussed other [Corporation] business with her.”

The only reason Solomont’s talking at all is because two Senators have placed a hold on his nomination to become the Ambassador to Spain.  Chuck Grassley placed an initial hold on his nomination in order to squeeze the documents out of the Obama administration, documents which clearly showed Solomont as not exactly forthcoming on Walpin’s firing.  Grassley lifted the hold even though the White House didn’t release all of the relevant documents, but another Senator has placed an anonymous hold on Solomont.  He won’t be going to Spain any time soon.

Does this sound like the most open and transparent administration in history?  It sounds more like a cover-up, and this case has begun to resemble the Travel Office firings that involved Hillary Clinton in abuses of power during the early days of her husband’s administration. York’s reporting also puts quite a different spin on the release of the White House visitor logs.  Obama tried to claim that it demonstrated his transparency, when in fact Congress had demanded that information in exchange for moving Solomont’s nomination.

Clearly the White House misled Congress in denying the connection between Solomont and Norris.  The handling of the termination of Walpin, and especially the subsequent attempts to paint the IG as senile, already looked like a desperate attempt to disguise the Oval Office’s political motivations in ridding itself of an independent observer for AmeriCorps and the CNCS.  Solomont’s deception shows whom these machinations intend to protect.

The Senate should stop Solomont’s nomination from proceeding any further, and demand the release of the rest of the documents.  Walpin should get reinstated immediately as well.


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yes. next question

unseen on December 14, 2009 at 9:31 AM

Hide the resign.

Geochelone on December 14, 2009 at 9:33 AM

Walpin=Billy Dale…however, I still think Travelgate and Billy Dale is the most revealing episode as to how liberals deal with insiders…and Hillary and Co, got away with it, and so will Michele.

right2bright on December 14, 2009 at 9:37 AM

what does the Office of Social Innovation do?

kelley in virginia on December 14, 2009 at 9:38 AM

At that point, according to Issa, Solomont insisted he had mentioned his meetings with Norris during that first interview with investigators on July 15.

….Finally, Solomont told investigators that he had discussed Corporation business, but not the Walpin matter, with Norris

Oh – you meant that Norris?

katiejane on December 14, 2009 at 9:38 AM

you figure that every White House has something to hide. but do you figure that every White House had cover-ups so early on in the administration?

kelley in virginia on December 14, 2009 at 9:39 AM

If the congress doesn’t get this guy under control they’ll soon be considered co-conspiritors. What goes around, comes around and they had better keep a close eye on their rear view mirror.

rplat on December 14, 2009 at 9:39 AM

hmm…..talk about Chicago politics!

becki51758 on December 14, 2009 at 9:41 AM

God Bless Mr. Walpin! I hope he sues! He can claim a clear case of ageism. The EEOC should help him sue the administration!

JAM on December 14, 2009 at 9:42 AM

Yep, they’ll get away with it because there isn’t one politician alive who thinks that doing the right thing by one conscientious, righteous, upstanding honest public servant is valuable in itself. That’s your government, folks.

mr1216 on December 14, 2009 at 9:42 AM

what does the Office of Social Innovation do?

kelley in virginia on December 14, 2009 at 9:38 AM

Why coordinate events and teachings w/Kevin Jennings of course!

red131 on December 14, 2009 at 9:42 AM

Did White House try to cover up FLOTUS connection to Walpin firing?

I thought we already knew that Michelle Obama was up to her ample rear end in this scapegoating. I think it is time that she and her staff be investigated.

highhopes on December 14, 2009 at 9:43 AM

It’s probably wrong of me to find happiness in the anticipation of Michelle, (Not-my-Bell) being publicly humiliated, isn’t it?

anniekc on December 14, 2009 at 9:46 AM

This is what the 0bamas are famous for back in Chicago. Why would they stop now? This is the only way they know how to do business.

4shoes on December 14, 2009 at 9:46 AM

Office of Social Innovation

WTF is that?????

WashJeff on December 14, 2009 at 9:50 AM

I am still trying to figure out why Michelle Obama’s old job at the hospital is not being filled. I mean for somebody to get paid $300+K a year it must be one heck of an important and critical position right? Will she be rehired when she comes back to Chicago? They both reek of corruption of an order of magnitutde greater than Slick Willie and Hillary.

Johnnyreb on December 14, 2009 at 9:51 AM

It’s probably wrong of me to find happiness in the anticipation of Michelle, (Not-my-Bell) being publicly humiliated, isn’t it?

anniekc on December 14, 2009 at 9:46 AM

It’s only wrong because you are setting yourself up for heartbreak. Mrs. Obama is not going to be touched by this. The media will never allow it.

myrenovations on December 14, 2009 at 9:51 AM

you figure that every White House has something to hide. but do you figure that every White House had cover-ups so early on in the administration?

kelley in virginia on December 14, 2009 at 9:39 AM

Mark Levin is looking more prescient by the day. I think Teh Won is going to Milhouse himself in one term.

Unprecedented!

alexwest on December 14, 2009 at 9:53 AM

Tip of the iceberg

Daveyardbird on December 14, 2009 at 9:55 AM

It’s only wrong because you are setting yourself up for heartbreak. Mrs. Obama is not going to be touched by this. The media will never allow it.

myrenovations on December 14, 2009 at 9:51 AM

you’re absolutely correct unfortunately.. That would be a “Farewell to [Bared] Arms” the media would never abide! … and lest we forget… it’s RACIST to even imply wrongdoing on “the South Side homegirl-turned-more-elegant-FirstLady than-JackieO ever was’” part.

max1 on December 14, 2009 at 9:56 AM

what does the Office of Social Innovation do?

kelley in virginia on December 14, 2009 at 9:38 AM

From the wikipedia entry, it looks like this office (isted as a new White House “entity” is charged with making sure there are adequate shells laying around in the event ACORN collapses and cannot be rescued by the liberal federal judiciary.

My goodness, the web of taxpayer funded ‘social justice’ programs multiply faster than the number of Obama affiliate web sites. The federal government is completely out of whack, out of focus and directed squarely against the self-employed, small businesses and independent entrepreneur. Is there any wonder why there is a private sector hiring freeze?

chaswv on December 14, 2009 at 9:58 AM

what does the Office of Social Innovation do?

kelley in virginia on December 14, 2009 at 9:38 AM

Its a department of IngSoc.

Geochelone on December 14, 2009 at 9:59 AM

what does the Office of Social Innovation do?

kelley in virginia on December 14, 2009 at 9:38 AM

It’s a jobs program. For needy do-gooder-type bureaucrats.

misterpeasea on December 14, 2009 at 10:04 AM

…and Norris needs to be thrown under the bus.

unclesmrgol on December 14, 2009 at 10:04 AM

How does this affect Sasha and Malia?

JammieWearingFool on December 14, 2009 at 10:07 AM

“The wonderful President doing the tough work to keep this country strong!”

-crr6

Bishop on December 14, 2009 at 10:09 AM

what does the Office of Social Innovation do?

kelley in virginia on December 14, 2009 at 9:38 AM

It “saves or creates jobs,” of course!

Let’s hope it can soon be merged into the “Office of the Ex-President!”

MrScribbler on December 14, 2009 at 10:09 AM

Hmm, Bush fired some AGs for not doing their jobs and the Obamedia and the Democrats threw a fit.

Obama fires an IG for doing his job – specifically investigating one of Obama’s allies – and the Obamedia and the Democrats are fine with that.

18-1 on December 14, 2009 at 10:10 AM

History repeats itself?

The cover-up worse than the crime?

“What did the President know, and when did he know it.”

turfmann on December 14, 2009 at 10:10 AM

It’s only wrong because you are setting yourself up for heartbreak. Mrs. Obama is not going to be touched by this. The media will never allow it.

myrenovations on December 14, 2009 at 9:51 AM

Look at how well toned her arms are. And her garden is going to be featured on the Jan. 3 Iron Chef America!!

Pay no attention to the corruption behind the curtain.

rbj on December 14, 2009 at 10:16 AM

Re-read Michelle’s book, “Culture of Corruption.” The FLOTUS is the real president. I’ve been familiar with this political cesspool for a long time because Chicago’s my lifelong home. He was placed in politics through her savvy and connections, and his smooth professorial demeanor just added to the mix. It was a perfect storm…and they just run roughshod over anyone (such as Walpin) who stands in their way.

Nalea on December 14, 2009 at 10:22 AM

It’s probably wrong of me to find happiness in the anticipation of Michelle, (Not-my-Bell) being publicly humiliated, isn’t it?

anniekc on December 14, 2009 at 9:46 AM

Wrong no, but the administration will protect the FLOTUS from any direct connection. It will akin to the way the Clinton’s covered up Hillary’s sanitizing Vince Foster’s office and her role in Travelgate. The bare-armed freak of nature will be out there peddling her lead-tainted vegetables again next year.

highhopes on December 14, 2009 at 10:22 AM

It “saves or creates jobs,” of course!

Let’s hope it can soon be merged into the “Office of the Ex-President!”

MrScribbler on December 14, 2009 at 10:09 AM

Yeah, just how many people are employed by the Office of Social Innovation who would otherwise be out on the streets.

I like the sound of “Office of the Ex-Potus”

highhopes on December 14, 2009 at 10:25 AM

It’s probably wrong of me to find happiness in the anticipation of Michelle, (Not-my-Bell) being publicly humiliated, isn’t it?

anniekc on December 14, 2009 at 9:46 AM

But it’s R-A-C-I-S-T.

katiejane on December 14, 2009 at 10:26 AM

We all know who runs the White House…

d1carter on December 14, 2009 at 10:30 AM

Office of Social Innovation

WTF is that?????

WashJeff on December 14, 2009 at 9:50 AM

Beyond that, how Orwellian is that?

BuckeyeSam on December 14, 2009 at 10:31 AM

Let’s see, lying under oath to Congress gets one how many years behind bars vs a trip to beneath the bus. Oh, dadgumit, no trip to Spain, either.

Kissmygrits on December 14, 2009 at 10:32 AM

It’s only wrong because you are setting yourself up for heartbreak. Mrs. Obama is not going to be touched by this. The media will never allow it.

myrenovations on December 14, 2009 at 9:51 AM

Future Headline:

WH ROCKED BY COVER UP SCANDAL
Michelle Has Really Great Arms

TugboatPhil on December 14, 2009 at 10:41 AM

Interesting Ed–thanks for bringing this up. I’ve contacted Grassley’s office twice on this issue and am curious to see where this turns out. I smell a rat in this whole mess and would like to see Congress get to the bottom of it, right after healthcare goes down in flames.

ted c on December 14, 2009 at 10:43 AM

Kenny Johnson should be indicted. He is a two-bit crook mayor of a crappy city full of two-bit crooks. Sort’ve like Daley of Chicago, but on a smaller scale.

jbh45 on December 14, 2009 at 10:51 AM

The only reason Solomont’s talking at all is because two Senators have placed a hold on his nomination to become the Ambassador to Spain. Chuck Grassley placed an initial hold on his nomination in order to squeeze the documents out of the Obama administration, documents which clearly showed Solomont as not exactly forthcoming on Walpin’s firing. Grassley lifted the hold even though the White House didn’t release all of the relevant documents, but another Senator has placed an anonymous hold on Solomont. He won’t be going to Spain any time soon.

Gee, Chuck, thanks for the integrity lesson.

This is what frustrates me about Republicans so much, and illustrates the popularity of Sarah Palin: So many in the party leadership have what are known in football as “alligator arms.” Grassley’s got ‘em. So does Newt Gingrich nowadays. Lindsey Graham? Duh. OTOH, Palin doesn’t. Neither do Issa, Inhofe, Pence, DeMint, and a few others.

For the sports-challenged, that’s a reference to receivers who are in perfect position to catch a pass thrown down the middle of the field, but fail to grasp the ball because their arms are not outstretched; they are kept close to the body in anticipation of getting hit from either or both sides by onrushing defending players.

Here’s a video demonstration of “alligator arms” in action. Think of Terrell Owens (or, if you were watching the Patriots yesterday, Randy Moss) as Chuck Grassley.

L.N. Smithee on December 14, 2009 at 10:52 AM

L.N. Smithee on December 14, 2009 at 10:52 AM

spot on!!!!

this is why I get so frustrated with the (R)s in Congress, they will play nice and not hit ‘em where it hurts…

cmsinaz on December 14, 2009 at 10:56 AM

Johnnyreb on December 14, 2009 at 9:51 AM

Unprecedented- the first POTUS and FLOTUS convicted and thrown in Federal Prison.

That is the news story I am hoping will come true by 2012.

journeyintothewhirlwind on December 14, 2009 at 11:03 AM

Spain should be real happy about giving diplomatic immunity to someone that breaks the laws (lying under oath) of the own country.
/sarc

barnone on December 14, 2009 at 11:06 AM

The Chicago Democratic Machine at work.

visions on December 14, 2009 at 11:07 AM

You hit on what frustrates me. This administration is so corrupt that each time there is an investigation or a problem that needs some bright white hot light, another isssue comes along and the first is forgotten for the next one. Walprin was in June, since June there have been so many more we take our eye off Walprin.
Anyone who is not an Obama lover and who is interested and has the resources, needs to concentrate on one and let the next guy get the next one.
Like Grassley should be holding the Walprin thing like a dog with a bone and let someone do the same with Kevin Jennings and so on.
These people are actively destroying our country. We need to be actively destroying them.

ORconservative on December 14, 2009 at 11:19 AM

you figure that every White House has something to hide. but do you figure that every White House had cover-ups so early on in the administration?

kelley in virginia on December 14, 2009 at 9:39 AM

How many other administrations have fired an Inspector General? It’s a much shorter list.

tom on December 14, 2009 at 11:27 AM

FLOTUS is obviously in the thick of things, politically. She’s fair game.

HeckOnWheels on December 14, 2009 at 12:01 PM

what does the Office of Social Innovation do?

kelley in virginia on December 14, 2009 at 9:38 AM

Ask Tiger. I think he had one of those.

Yoop on December 14, 2009 at 12:34 PM

These people are actively destroying our country. We need to be actively destroying them.

ORconservative on December 14, 2009 at 11:19 AM

Now THAT comment will get ya a visit from Rahm & his pals.

Tim Zank on December 14, 2009 at 12:48 PM

Ahhhhhhhhhhh. whatever. They’ve got alot of people they’ve got to be looking at, since i’m only talking about keeping the news stories flowing, I don’t think they will bother with me.

ORconservative on December 14, 2009 at 1:09 PM

and three officials from the Office of Social Innovation

There’s more than one??? I agree, WTF?

PatMac on December 14, 2009 at 1:22 PM

I want to know which genius came up with the name “office of Social innovation” It is so creepy.

ORconservative on December 14, 2009 at 1:31 PM

Well, one way or the other, I don’t think this will be good for Michelle’s kids…

JusDreamin on December 14, 2009 at 5:10 PM

The question I have for you ED is: Has anyone in the M. Obama’s past been fired or laid off for investigating her? They could be anybody. I’d start with investigative news reporters in the greater Chicago area. Next, find out if any suit was dropped against her because of extenuating circumstances or a that due to the ties to the Chicago machinations, a judicial decision was made by a court with a very suspicious outcome. Search for patterns of this kind of behavior.

Americannodash on December 14, 2009 at 6:35 PM

Deja vu all over again.

KittyLowrey on December 14, 2009 at 10:04 PM