Matt Burke is on with me at 6:05AM et this morning to discuss the Gulf oil spill and legal issues as well as Obama adminstration's role in the Sestak scandal.
Who Will Investigate the Sestak/ Romanoff Scandal?
By: Matt Burke
June 6, 2010
Most Presidential administrations have scandals to work through, and the Obama administration is now under the microscope for allegations that Congressman Sestak was offered a senior position in the administration in exchange for dropping out of a Pennsylvania Senate primary challenge against incumbent Senator Arlen Spector. A similar claim has been made in Colorado, where Andrew Romanoff was offered an administration job in exchange for dropping a Senate primary challenge to incumbent Senator Michael Bennett. Neither man dropped out of his race.
The model for a political scandal was Watergate, where the crime was followed by the cover up, which was revealed by a relentless investigation conducted by law enforcement, Congress and the press.
If a crime was committed by offering those administration positions to Sestak and Romanoff (many claim that there is no criminal violation, I disagree), then the Obama administration has significantly deviated from the Watergate model by admitting their complicity in the crime.
The White House has confirmed that Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina contacted Andrew Romanoff about a position in the administration in exchange for his dropping out of his primary bid.
While you are letting that information marinate, remember that the administration also confirmed that it used former President Clinton to broker a deal in the Sestak matter. And who confirmed this—why none other than White House Counsel Bob Bauer, who recently replaced ousted WH counsel Greg Craig, through a release of a memorandum reviewing discussions regarding Congressman Sestak. This memorandum was released on the Friday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend, in a purposeful attempt to bury the story, and with reason.
For those that are not aware, the White House Counsel’s office is the attorney’s office for the administration, and any such advice given by the White House counsel should be covered under attorney-client privilege (there have been many attacks to this, but I believe an attorney’s position should always be cautious when it comes to client protected matters). Private attorneys (or their staff) will often prepare memorandums to summarize their client’s exposure of risk, and will also provide reports of investigations if needed. While different attorneys will have different types memorandums produced, one item remains consistent—these memorandums are attorney work product and should never be released to the public. This is attorney client privilege information—why did the White House Counsel release his own report??
More importantly, by the information contained in its own memorandum, the White House Counsel may have admitted the elements of the crime of conspiracy to bribe a Federal Official in its own memorandum. What in the world are they thinking?
When this memo was first released, I thought that any investigator or grand jury would have a difficult time prosecuting the Sestak case, as no one would offer truthful testimony willingly (recall the last time President Clinton offered sworn testimony). Well, this memo has taken care of all of that by admitting the involvement by some of the most powerful men and women in America.
At the very least, this memo, coupled with the Romanoff admission by the administration, has provided enough information to satisfy the legal standard of probable cause necessary launch an investigation. Probable cause is also the standard needed to arrest someone, but not enough to convict.
So, now we need an investigation, and this is where things fall apart. Does anyone really think that Attorney General Eric Holder will have the FBI investigate these acts, especially after the Black Panther case? How about the Democratically controlled Congress calling for a Special Prosecutor? Certainly not before the mid term elections.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General may be able to investigate and prosecute the Sestak matter under the state laws of Pennsylvania; however he is currently running for Pennsylvania Governor as a Republican, so his attention is elsewhere. If the DC end of the Sestak or Romanoff offers happened in Virginia, then Attorney General of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli could investigate and prosecute, but that is a long shot.
As to the press, well they have not followed through as enthusiastically as they did the Valerie Plame scandal. But as we all know, the media paradigm has changed—the New York Times, Washington Post, et al. do not have the same power as they once had—and the new media does not show any signs that they are going to ignore this story. They need to keep the pressure on, especially as further evidence develops. And the public-- well it is our job as informed concerned citizens to keep the pressure on our elected officials to ensure that the laws of the United States are complied with by the members of the Executive Branch.