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.