Axelrod: No evidence that Sestak is telling the truth

posted at 9:30 am on May 25, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

The White House attempted to push back against allegations that Barack Obama or his staff attempted to bribe Joe Sestak into withdrawing from the Democratic Senate primary by offering him a job, but they may be creating bigger headaches with their defense. Axelrod tells CNN’s John King that there is “no evidence” that the bribe attempt ever happened, even while he acknowledges that it would have been “a serious breach of the law.” In order to believe that there is “no evidence,” though, one has to discount the repeated direct testimony of Sestak himself (via The Daily Caller):

Senior adviser to the president David Axelrod said Monday evening that there is “no evidence” that White House officials tried to keep a Democratic congressman from entering the Pennsylvania Senate race by offering him a high-ranking government job.

“When the allegations were made, they were looked into. And there was no evidence of such a thing,” Axelrod said on CNN’s “John King USA.”

Axelrod acknowledged that if White House officials dangled a job in front of Rep. Joe Sestak’s face to keep him away from challenging incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter, that would “constitute a serious breach of the law.”

Axelrod also acknowledged that there were “conversations” involving White House officials and Sestak, but said that those had been “looked at” by White House lawyers and “their conclusion was that it was perfect — the conversations were perfectly appropriate.”

Witness testimony does qualify as evidence, however, and Sestak has insisted on multiple occasions that the bribe attempt happened. Either Sestak is lying, or Sestak is telling the truth. If it’s the latter, then someone in the Obama administration committed a felony, and perhaps more than one, by Axelrod’s own admission. If it didn’t happen, then Joe Sestak is lying. In order to defend itself, the White House has been put in the position of having to call its party’s nominee for the US Senate a liar.

A Congressional investigation could settle the matter. Not surprisingly, Democrats don’t seem terribly interested in conducting one, although Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has demanded a probe to discover whether the “most transparent administration in history” tried to illegally manipulate an election. Democrats know that they have no good outcomes from such a probe, but don’t expect such hesitation from Republicans if they take back control of either chamber in the midterms.

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How much money was wasted on the “Outing of Valarie Plame” case again…?

Seven Percent Solution on May 25, 2010 at 12:19 PM

Problem is, I DO expect the hesitation, or a downright “it’s old news, move on, fugget about it.”
Am I alone in thinking this?
Marybeth on May 25, 2010 at 11:47 AM

No, you’re not alone. I agree. I fully expect republicans, if they win back the House, to call for a “new era of bipartisanship.” They’ll say this because they won’t campaign on repeal of Obamacare or any aggressive conservative message, just by default due to failure of democrats. This is the problem with perpetual timidity.

rrpjr on May 25, 2010 at 12:22 PM

In order to defend itself, the White House has been put in the position of having to call its party’s nominee for the US Senate a liar.

And? There’s no one they won’t throw under the bus to save their own skin.

Vyce on May 25, 2010 at 12:24 PM

I thought the lack of evidence was a red flag for the Democrats to insist that an investigation was required into any Republican…doesn’t work the other way even WITH evidence I guess.

opaobie on May 25, 2010 at 12:37 PM

Where is there any evidence that the White House has EVER told the truth? This administration is so packed with liars you can’t keep up with the lies. Axelrod’s Alinskyite response comes as no surprise. Joe Sestak was a Navy officer and as such he lived by a code of conduct for officers. It was probably the same one I lived under and still do. I am guilty of a few “WHITE” lies but nothing of the magnitude Axelrod is suggesting. It’s simply astonishing that we have such ilk in control if, indeed, they are in control. Preposterous hubris.

LarryG on May 25, 2010 at 12:39 PM

For what it’s worth here is some information about Joe Sestak. His last job in the Navy was N-7 (Warfare Requirements and Programs) as a three star. He was a known bully who ADM Mullen,when he came in as CNO, promptly fired. Sestak had nowhere to go so he had to retire as a two star. I understand that he has the highest staff turnover in the House because he continues to be a bully. The fact that Mullen fired him says a lot about his character. I give him some credit that he didn’t take the bribe but he lacks the integrity to come forward and do his civic duty and report it to the proper authorities.

I think the only reason he didn’t go with it was he was simply to arrogant to take orders from the White House.

jerryofva on May 25, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Okay, so the Christian army is no longer the only one that shoots its wounded…

College Prof on May 25, 2010 at 12:44 PM

Sgt. Schultz-Axlerod…

Wyznowski on May 25, 2010 at 12:44 PM

Hey, how about you go back to the White House and ask around about this.

forest on May 25, 2010 at 12:47 PM

I’m having a change of heart about this. Considering what some have said about Sestak being the Clinton’s boy, I wonder if the WH stopped short of “felony” and led Sestak to believe that he was offered a job in order to withdraw from the race–then, he subsequently fell back on his Clintonian associations and made the allegation in the hopes that it’d deep six the Obama WH. The WH subsequently stonewalls with a compliant press, Sestak flounders, and then figures out he’s shot his load, and Hillary’s to boot.

ted c on May 25, 2010 at 12:56 PM

Just saw this on Drudge. The SOB is going to skip Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day ceremony, and instead go on vacation in ChiTown. FUBAR!

Neuron on May 25, 2010 at 9:48 AM

This is disrespectful beyond belief. What a shameful, shallow man this president is.

GrannySunni on May 25, 2010 at 1:01 PM

only live service personnel make for great photo ops…?

ted c on May 25, 2010 at 1:03 PM

When Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), the Navy admiral-turned-congressman, defeated 30-year incumbent Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate primary Tuesday night, it was the second time in his short political career that he had knocked out a better-known incumbent. Four years earlier, Sestak bested Rep. Curt Weldon, beating the Republican incumbent by nearly 13 points to take the seat representing Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional district in Congress.

In his three years on Capitol Hill, Sestak has offset his 31-year military career with an aggressively liberal voting record, supporting the Democratic House leadership on most votes and endorsing nearly all of the White House’s top priorities. Sestak voted for President Obama’s health care bill, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and the energy bill that included a cap-and-trade mechanism to reduce carbon emissions. He also established himself as pro-choice, with a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America, pro-gun control, and pro-labor, sponsoring the Employee Free Choice Act.

Sestak also served in the Clinton White House as the Director for Defense Policy on the National Security Council.

Took out Curt Weldon because of Able Danger. Possibly took out Arlen Specter for same reason, as Specter was calling the DOD stonewalling in the Able Danger investigation a cover-up back in 2005.

This guy is not our friend….and again, do you guys love Wesley Clark or Merill “Tony” McPeak just because they held high rank during the Clinton administration?

funky chicken on May 25, 2010 at 1:22 PM

This is a really big fricking deal – bigger than Watergate. This is the Chicago Combine bringing the Chicago Way to the U.S. of A. The dwarf, his greasy cohort and the puppet have their fingerprints all over this one. This is how they operate. Why is ShitTown subject to the Shakman Decrees? Research that. There are quite a few people lingering in various slammers because of these deals. Donald Tomczak & Robert Sorich are perfect examples and read their indictments and Tony Rezko’s too. Don’t dismiss the recent “suicides” either. Keep your eye on the “King Rat” at all times. He is usually in Chicago, not D.C.

MayorDaley on May 25, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Andrew Romanoff who is challenging Senator Bennet in the Democrat Primary in Colorado has reportedly also been offered a job to withdraw.

It was in the Denver post last September.

But since then Romanoff has clammed up about it.

My understanding is that if these guys were offered a bribe and didn’t report it they could also be in trouble with the law.

So… will Obama be impeached? It was the cover-up not the crime that got Nixon. The entire Whitehouse in in cover-up mode.

Did Obama do the bribing himself?

This could be really really big.

petunia on May 25, 2010 at 1:40 PM

we need to outflank the media on this. The WH is stonewalling because they can. Sestak is answering questions, somewhat, because he has to. Until someone demands that the WH start answering some f**king questions or puts their jewels in a vise, then we’ll sit here at square one.

ted c on May 25, 2010 at 1:44 PM

Thank goodness King made it clear he was grateful to Axe for not cutting off his access in retaliation for asking .

borntoraisehogs on May 25, 2010 at 2:12 PM

My goodness….he has to apologize for asking tough questions…?

Marconi on May 25, 2010 at 2:27 PM

If Sestak says it happened maybe he should identify the person who made the offer. Or is he holding out for a better offer?

Dasher on May 25, 2010 at 2:38 PM

“When the allegations were made, they were looked into. And there was no evidence of such a thing,” Axelrod said on CNN’s “John King USA.”

Looked into by whom?
Barack Obama or his staff?

Wild guess, Axelrod asked around the office if anyone remembered offering Sestak a bribe and no one remembers nothing, so it never happened.

DSchoen on May 25, 2010 at 2:53 PM

LOL,..From the people who take the “LIE” to a whole new level, they speak of truth?!!
Hitlers look alike twin is nothing more then a talking chump,..who btw I hear is a muslim, so telling a lie to non-believers is given.

christene on May 25, 2010 at 3:12 PM


Axelrod is of Jewish ancestry and not a Muslim. Keep it real so the lefties can’t cite your post as an indicator of “wingnut” derrangement.

jerryofva on May 25, 2010 at 3:14 PM


You f*ck, you got nothin’!
You’re nothin’ but talk and a badge.
You’re here because you got nothin’
in court, no bookkeeper, nothin’!
lf you were a man, you would’ve done
it now! You got nothin’, you punk!

Daggett on May 25, 2010 at 4:44 PM

PatriotRider: No evidence that Obama is telling the truth

PatriotRider on May 25, 2010 at 4:51 PM

I’ll bet Expletive Axelrod and sleazy Eric Holder are keeping Zero’s special Reno-2000 document shredder running 24/7 nonetheless.

viking01 on May 25, 2010 at 4:55 PM

Axelrod, Obama and Holder sounds like a funny porno title.

A lascivious law firm eager to get into your briefs.

The sooner they’re all booted from their positions the better our country will be.

profitsbeard on May 25, 2010 at 5:25 PM

so, there is no evidence…only hearsay. Sure.
They are scrambling to protect themselves. Sestak’s word against theirs…or perhaps Rahm’s??

Only in Chicago-oops, this is the WHITE HOUSE.

djn on May 25, 2010 at 5:26 PM

Axelrod tells CNN’s John King that there is “no evidence” that the bribe attempt ever happened

That is a good campaign issue for Pat Toomey: The White House says that Joe Sestak is a liar.

scrubjay on May 25, 2010 at 5:39 PM

Witness testimony does qualify as evidence, however, and Sestak has insisted on multiple occasions that the bribe attempt happened.

Great, so then everyone here admits that there is plenty of “evidence” that Tea Partiers screamed the “n word” at black Democratic congressmen prior to health care reform passing, right?


crr6 on May 25, 2010 at 5:48 PM




reliapundit on May 25, 2010 at 6:23 PM

I’ll not bother reading 3 pages of comment, and it’s probably been said already, but how awesome is it that the administration says publicly that they are concerned with evidence, not truth.

This is a scummy bunch. I thought the Clintonista’s were slimy, but in retrospect….

OneEyedJack on May 25, 2010 at 6:33 PM

It isn’t the nature of the evidence. It’s the appearance of impropriety.

Remember that phony old Liberal mantra? How the standards do change when the Dims get called out.

viking01 on May 25, 2010 at 7:03 PM

they are so trying to keep a lid on this….it’s making them twist so hard. they’re up there thumb sucking so hard just hoping the story will change… something more newsworthy… an oil spill! ohhh no!!! not that again…or Korea…NOOooo! or or…Afghanistan…NOO! whew, michelle, pack that plane, we needs a vacation girl.

ted c on May 25, 2010 at 7:04 PM

Axelrod calling someone a liar is like a pig calling my house messy, or a cat telling me my pee stinks or…

elifino on May 25, 2010 at 7:04 PM

Obama is getting stuck in the La Brea Tarpit of his Laziness.

He likes speechifying (on his terms), but not doing anything that requires action.

profitsbeard on May 25, 2010 at 7:06 PM

In order to believe that there is “no evidence,” though, one has to discount the repeated direct testimony of Sestak himself

Yes, Axie! Hard to believe but eyewitness testimony is actually evidence.


seanrobins on May 25, 2010 at 7:23 PM

And there will be NO boards to review your medical records
And you can keep your medical coverage
And your costs will go down
And everyone under 250k will get a paycut
And Obowma will be the great go-between between parties
And no more politics as usual
And no more raising taxes one single dime
And no more por laden bills
And no lobbyists in this administration
And no more Gitmo
And the world will love us more
And Chicago gets the 2016 Olympics

dthorny on May 25, 2010 at 7:26 PM

Axlerod’s lips are moving.

Wade on May 25, 2010 at 7:53 PM

This lie is child’s play compared to the stuff that’s out there.

The Obama admin is too stupid to understand that the people they trusted are slippery too. They’re gaming, sure, but they’re also being gamed.

I stand by my assertion that this president will not complete his first term. Resignation or impeachment will do him in.

Grace_is_sufficient on May 25, 2010 at 8:14 PM

The number of investigations ready and waiting for the republicans to take on if they win back congress has got to be starting to look like an asymptote at this point. This one though, it has teeth to it, most of the other stuff, no one is willing to step up.

It is interesting to me that Sestak said this stuff month ago, but it’s only now being reported widely as he WON something. Apparently, only winners have voices of any sort in America.

WashingtonsWake on May 26, 2010 at 12:21 AM

No evidence that Sestak is telling the truth

I would have to say the same thing about Obama.
But someone here probably said that already.

Badger40 on May 26, 2010 at 1:19 AM

Great we really need a bunch of “Jobbers” because these “Jobbers” will make the Republicans look bad and unhinged making all these claims about a job offer in the administration for the dropping out of the primary. We need to defeat Obama on the issues, now you “Jobbers” shut up. (sarc off)

Watching_Cloward-Piven on May 26, 2010 at 3:10 AM

Thanks for all the interesting commentary! For those defending the show, I would reiterate what I said at the outset: my purpose in writing down my thoughts about the finale was not to denigrate those who enjoyed it, or win an argument with them about whether it sucked or not. It was my own two cents’ worth, about a significant cultural moment, offered without any expectation of concession from those who disagree.

To the apologists who say the people who don’t “get” the brilliant finale are stupid or simple-minded, “blind” viewers you feel compelled to enlighten: beyond a general admonition to make your points without insulting those you disagree with, I’d suggest you’re skating on some very thin conceptual ice. There was nothing to “get,” after all. It was all magic. None of it made any sense, and those who wrote it couldn’t produce a coherent explanation for most of those tantalizing mysteries at gunpoint. If you think that’s fine because answers weren’t important to enjoy the character development, or the show was making a larger philosophical point that There Are No Answers In Life, that’s great.

My purpose in writing was not to throttle your joy. Because I personally view that interpretation as a cheap dodge which illustrates a poverty of imagination and storytelling skills from the writers doesn’t mean it’s wrong or foolish for *you* to accept it. I like plenty of books, movies, and TV shows I couldn’t rationally defend to the many people who dislike them. Criticism is a discussion, not a battle in which only one side can “win.”

I suppose you could boil “Lost” viewers down to those who think the Frozen Donkey Wheel was “explained,” and those who don’t. Personally, I think that idea is laugh-out-loud funny. Sure, we got a scene where some guy who got through his entire life without a *name* pointed at a wheel lying on the floor, and told his equally nameless, insane adoptive mother he would gain the power to leave the island by mounting it in the wall. He was confident it would work, because some of the pre-industrial castaways he’d been hanging around with were “very smart people.” If that truly, honestly is good enough for you, great. I think you can understand why it’s *not* good enough for some of us.

(Incidentally, for the “character development is all that matters” crowd: Jacob spent much of his young life believing he was the only person in the world with a name? How did the crazy Mother warn his brother away from doing something dangerous? “Hey, you! Boy In Black! Get away from that wild boar!”)

There’s a difference between enigma and fraud. I’m really weary of elaborate con jobs being passed off as profundity, both in life and in culture. Even the most ardent “Lost” devotee would have to admit that *some* narrative cohesion is necessary to enjoy a story. Few people would have watched the show if all the characters had suddenly, inexplicably become cowboys in the Old West at the start of season 2, then the crew of a starship four episodes later, and turned into cartoon animals at the beginning of the next season. We all agree that some degree of sense and reason is necessary to construct a plot. We merely disagree on how much is required, and whether it matters that people who were paid vast sums of money to script a long-running TV show turned out to be randomly throwing weird stuff on the screen, while lying both implicitly and explicitly about whether it had any real meaning. Personally, I find that a violation of the basic trust between storyteller and audience. It’s not about needing “every little thing laid out” and “packaged with a ribbon.” It’s about becoming strongly interested in a solution that was promised by the authors, only to learn it never existed, and they were willfully deceiving their audience.

No one would have forgiven Agatha Christie for writing an intricate locked-room murder mystery, which ends with the revelation the killer is The Devil and can walk through walls. Like other disappointed “Lost” fans, I thought we were getting a mystery, not a fever dream. I don’t mind magic in fiction, but when it becomes so arbitrary that even the graduating class at Hogwart’s couldn’t figure it out, it feels lazy, and boring.

As always in the realm of literary criticism, your mileage may vary.

Doctor Zero on May 26, 2010 at 7:55 AM

haha, sorry kids, posted in the wrong thread. Carry on then! :)

Doctor Zero on May 26, 2010 at 7:55 AM

… but as long as I’m here, all of that could apply equally to the Obama Administration, couldn’t it? Keep pushing that donkey wheel, Axelrod!

Doctor Zero on May 26, 2010 at 7:56 AM

If the GOP takes back the House in November and does not pursue this, Holder and others; then I will be for a 3rd party.

barnone on May 26, 2010 at 10:22 AM

Also no sense that anyone in this administration knows what’s going on or what it is supposed to be doing.

A lot of information that is created by De – Pressing Secretary Mr. Gibbs.

MSGTAS on May 26, 2010 at 10:34 AM

Axelturf’s answer runs away from the question. Was he offered a job? “There is no evidence.” The mic must have been turned off before it recorded Axleturf saying “THANK GOD!”

MarkT on May 26, 2010 at 12:37 PM

…the White House has been put in the position of having to call its party’s nominee for the US Senate a liar.

Isn’t that a prerequisite for any Democrat?

skanter on May 26, 2010 at 2:31 PM

Is there any evidence Axel has ever told the truth?

jpmn on May 26, 2010 at 4:01 PM

If any of this happened in PA either with a face to face meeting or through a phone call then the A.G. in PA … Corbett can look into it as well and he is a Republican and running for Gov

Aggie95 on May 26, 2010 at 5:28 PM

Where have I heard all this before? It all seems so familiar…ah, yes–now I remember:

August 29, 1972: ‘Internal Investigations Have Found No Wrongdoing in White House’

Nixon Speaks:

“…[W]ithin our own staff, under my direction, Counsel to the President, Mr. Dean, has conducted a complete investigation of all leads which might involve any present members of the White House Staff or anybody in the Government. I can say categorically that his investigation indicates that no one in the White House Staff, no one in this Administration, presently employed, was involved in this very bizarre incident. …

Before Mr. Mitchell left as campaign chairman he had employed a very good law firm with investigatory experience to look into the matter. Mr. MacGregor has continued that investigation and is continuing it now. …

What really hurts in matters of this sort is not the fact that they occur, because overzealous people in campaigns do things that are wrong. What really hurts is if you try to cover it up.”

The question remains:

What did the president know and when will he find a hole in his schedule between tee times to know it again?

Noel on May 26, 2010 at 5:33 PM

Axelrod: No evidence that Sestak is telling the truth

We can say the same thing about your boss Ax… Time and time again, it has been proven that your boss lies!

M-14 2go on May 26, 2010 at 7:11 PM

There’s also no evidence that Axelrod is a human being and not a slimy slug just slithering back under it’s rock.

jcw46 on May 26, 2010 at 7:18 PM

I just love the political horror show that is the Obama Administration.

seanrobins on May 26, 2010 at 7:53 PM

How could someone who;
1. had no combat experience,
2. was extraordinarily political with ideological fringe positions on every issue,
3. is haplessly naive and clueless about dealing with ruthless dishonest people,
rise in the Navy and get promoted to 3 stars? If Mike Mullen hadn’t come along and fired the guy Sestak would have become CNO.

In 1986 Sestak worked for COMNACSURFPAC at Coronado CA as his Chief of Staff. I was there for a few months working in the Intel shop so I must have met the guy. By all accounts he seems to have been an efficient hardworking competent officer. The worst I have heard about him on a nonpolicy level is that as a Congressman he has an extraordinarily high level of staff turnover because he expects everyone to work as hard as he does.

That inability to deal with mediocrity can resonate with his current problem. One weakness in liberalism is that it assumes hard work and good intentions from everyone. Problems are assumed to be because of a failure in communication, not from bad intentions. Unproductive people are marginalized within the inner circle, liberals can be tougher bosses than conservatives, but they fail to extend to society as a whole the freedom to make those judgments that they exercise themselves. They can choose who to hire and fire as individuals but you or a “faceless corporation” they do not trust with the same authority. Oddly enough in the military it is very hard to fire someone, officers can get a bad Fitness Report but to actually remove a lazy sailor as opposed to letting them coast a few years can be difficult. Sestak has little training in how to handle the incompetent, less in how to deal with the unmotivated or indifferent, and none in how to deal with the hostile and malicious. He operated a very efficient ship but he never actually engaged an enemy.

LifeofTheMind on May 29, 2010 at 7:00 AM