Saturday, May 29, 2010

“I Did Not Offer A Job To That (Joe)Man.”

Ah Bill Clinton, is there no scandal you won’t join? Let’s dissect this Joe Sestak matter because it’s import. Indeed, it appears that a very serious crime has been committed. BUT, this is something the Republicans need to shut up about. Here’s why. . .

1. The Facts: What Happened
Here is what happened in JobGate.
1. Joe Sestak begins a primary challenge against turncoat Sen. Snarlin Arlen Specter.

2. Soon Sestak starts bragging that the White House offered him a job to drop his senate bid. On Larry King, he was asked: “Were you ever offered a federal job to get out of this race?” Answer: “Yes.” The following day, on FOX News, he was asked if he was offered “a federal job, a White House or administrative job.” Sestak said “yes.” On Joe Scarborough he was asked if it was “an offer to run the Navy.” Sestak said “yes.” At no point in this interview or any others did he ever suggest that he wasn’t actually offered a job or that it was only an advisor position. That’s called an admission.

3. People start pointing out that this is a felony (see below). And the Republicans ask Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor. Holder refuses. That’s called a cover-up.

4. Obama is questioned by the media and avoids responding: “You will get it from my administration, and it will be coming out shortly. . . I can assure the public that nothing improper took place, but as I said, there will be a response shortly on that issue.” That’s called a non-denial denial and indicates a cover-up in progress.

5. Sestak is asked to clarify exactly what the job was. He now refuses to answer: “I have nothing else to say on the matter.” That’s guilty talk.

6. Obama and Clinton meet for lunch. That’s called conspiracy.

7. The White House issues a very carefully-worded, very evasive white wash memo that claims that Bill Clinton met with Sestak, not anyone from the White House, and that Bill only offered to put Sestak on an “uncompensated advisory board.” It also claims that Republicans have done this in the past too. . . although it doesn’t cite any examples. Demonization is always an acknowledgement of guilt

8. Finally, Sestak issued a statement saying he had turned down an unpaid advisor job. That's called conspiracy after the fact.
2. Why This Is A Crime
If a job was offered to Sestak, then a felony was committed. Here’s why:
1. 18 U.S.C. section 211 makes it a crime to solicit or receive anything of value in exchange for appointing (or influencing the appointment of) someone to an office or job with the United States. This is subject to one year in prison and a fine.

2. 18 U.S.C. section 595 makes it a crime for anyone to use a federal job, federal funds, or a federal position to interfere with a Senate election. This is subject to one year in prison and a fine.

3. 18 U.S.C. section 600, makes it a crime to offer public employment in exchange for political activity. This is the Hatch Act, which was passed in 1939 to stop the practice of hiring political hacks for government jobs and to stop the use of government resources to promote political parties, i.e. to depoliticize the federal work force. However, the only penalty appears to be termination of employment.
Each of these applies “directly or indirectly,” meaning that going through a third party is the same thing as doing it yourself. . . hi Bill. Thus, everyone involved in this could be sentenced up to two years in prison, fined, and lose any federal job they hold. Removing a President would require impeachment.
3. Why This Should Be Investigated
Speaking as an attorney, this has all the hallmarks of a crime that is now being covered up. Can it be proven? Possibly. That’s why you need a special prosecutor. They can call in all the witnesses and quiz them, including secretaries and assistants. It is the secretaries and assistants who usually break a case open either because they decide not to lie for their bosses (though, in truth, they usually do lie) or they don’t know what lie to tell (this is more common). The prosecutor can also subpoena phone records and computer records -- including e-mails, which is also where these things usually fall apart. After that, one or more main players will usually roll over and start telling the truth.

The other reason a special prosecutor should be called is that this is not an isolated incident. In Colorado, Andrew Romanoff is running against Sen. Michael Bennet in the Democratic primary. According to The Denver Post, Jim Messina, Obama’s deputy chief of staff, “suggested a place for Romanoff might be found in the administration and offered specific suggestions, according to several sources. . . Romanoff turned down the overture, which included mention of a job at USAID.” The day after, Romanoff announced his Senate bid. The White House has denied this, but “several top Colorado Democrats” have confirmed it anonymously to The Post.
4. Why Republicans Need To Shut The Heck Up Fast
Despite the fact that this is a crime, the Republicans need to shut the heck up about this. They should push to get a special prosecutor, but should not talk about impeachment and should not try to score points on this once a special prosecutor is appointed. Here’s why.

People do not like attacks that seem purely political. And they don’t like politicians using the criminal justice system to attack their opponents. They particularly don’t like politicians trying to “get” their opponents with esoteric laws. And the public will see this as esoteric. Why? Because Obama could have done this legally.

Presidents have the power to appoint anyone they want. Thus, Obama could have appointed Sestak to whatever position he has in mind and it would have been entirely legal, even if Sestak needed to drop his Senate bid to take the job. It only became illegal because of the quid-pro-quo aspect, the “you only get this if. . .” aspect. But since Obama could have done this legally by just omitting those words, people will see this as a “technically illegal” illegality. In my experience, people do not like those, and they hate it when politicians use those against their opponents.

Moreover, look at the history of using these kinds of attacks on opponents. Iran Contra made Oliver North into a hero and made the Democrats looks like incompetent, anti-American jerks. The impeachment of Bill Clinton made Bill Clinton much more popular than he had been and made Republicans look like nasty, intolerant, sex-obsessed tyrants. It also ended many a career on the Republican side, but only enhanced those on the left. Even consider Watergate. The Democrats didn’t bring down Nixon, Nixon brought down Nixon. And what did the Democrats gain? Nothing. They only beat Ford after he pardoned Nixon, and four years later came Ronald Reagan and a dramatic shift to the right.

This same history gets repeated in other countries as well. When politicians try to use criminal laws against their opponents, the crime better be ultra-serious. Anything that sounds technical or snippy will always blow up on the party that is perceived as exploiting the law.

The better approach is to let the investigation do its thing. Let a prosecutor go after these people and let the steady drip of allegations and the infighting do the damage. In the meantime, just keep saying, “serious allegations have been raised and there should be a prosecutor appointed to uncover the truth. The American people deserve the truth. Beyond that, I’ll wait to comment until after the investigation.”

That may not be the sexy strategy, but it's the smart strategy.

** Update: It now turns out that Sestak would not have been eligible for the job Clinton supposedly offered him. That makes their claims look even more like a coverup. That's what happens when you try to make up an "alibi" after the fact.


Libertarian Advocate said...

Andrew: Excellent analysis. I couldn't agree more with you on the advisability of the Republicans keeping their glee under tight wraps on this. I linked you here:

Anonymous said...

I'm saying this with tongue planted in cheek but when I read this:

This is the Hatch Act, which was passed in 1939 to stop the practice of hiring political hacks for government jobs [...]

I thought to myself, "Oh, that worked." :-)

LL said...

With the Democrats in charge of the executive and both houses of Congress - they'll drag it out until next Spring when the Republicans are in the majority in the House and by then it will be yesterday's news.

StanH said...

Agreed! …and great overview of Jobgate. Victoria Toensing was on Hannity and as you laid out the criminality of what has happened here and she believed that a special prosecutor would be appointed by “critical mass,” forcing Holder’s hand …do you agree? If not what would the mechanism be to get this looked at? Dick Morris has posed the possibility of the PA Attorney General could impanel a Grand Jury putting all participants under oath including the president.

I guess my question is what do you think the mechanism will be to get an investigation?

DCAlleyKat said...

Politically speaking I think 'we the people' are at the breaking point when it comes to the corruption of DC. Most of us knew some of it went on, but I don't believe the majority of us realized the frequency and the depth of their corruption. If laws continue to be violated and the system continues to look the other way a very ill wind is going to blow across this land.
Politics as usual ends when 'we the people' stop tolerating it, and a vote no longer weilds power when the election is as corrupted as those being elected.

CrisD said...

I realized pretty quickly that this was a garden variety-stepped in it moment for Obama & Co.
I loved the whole nine yards you laid out.

Hope its OK that I can't stop laughing about Bill Clinton in my own house...

AndrewPrice said...

Libertarian Advocate, Thanks! And thanks for the link. Politically speaking scandals like this are the definition of "double-edged swords." If the public doesn't think it's fair, or if you seem too happy about it, or if aren't careful, then the whole story shifts to how bad the accusers are.

And at this point at least, the media is actually beginning to drive the story. So now is the time to be very careful.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Believe it or not, the Hatch Act has been very effective and it is taken very seriously at Club Fed. They really have driven the politics out of the workforce.

However, it must be noted that certain jobs do remain inherently political -- usually the top jobs. But there is a real difference between the appointees and the hires.

AndrewPrice said...

LL, I think that's the plan. But I've seen several articles written by leftists who are dismayed that this will drag out forever, which can be worse than just getting it over with. The longer this goes, the more the accusations become true whether there is support or not, because people will assume that it would die out if there was nothing to it.

Interestingly, the left is really angry that Clinton was involved with this. They are furious about the "whiff of scandal" that has returned and they see this as a betrayal of the reason they dumped Hillary for Obama in the first place.

This is very premature, but wouldn't it be interesting if Clinton ends up being the nail in Obama's coffin?

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, That's the question. The Independent Counsel law expired when the Democrats realized that it could be used against them. So right now the only way to get this investigated would be:

1. For the Justice Department to decide to open an investigation.

2. For Congress to hold hearings.

3. For a relevant state Attorney General to investigate. That would be Pennsylvania in this instance.

Each of those levers of power is controlled by the Democrats, and they aren't too interested in pursuing this at the moment because they want to see if it goes away on its own.

BUT, if it has legs. In other words, if they start hearing from their constituents that they are angry about this, and if the media keeps it in the news cycle (particularly if something is uncovered -- say, for example, with Romanoff in Colorado or someone in another state), then the pressure will build.

At that point, if they are stupid, they will use the Justice Department to conduct a white wash investigation. If they start down that road, they will fall into the trap that unless they sacrifice someone, then the public will see this as a cover-up. Hence, they would eventually be forced to appoint a special prosecutor.

What they might do, what would be politically smart, is to wait and see if this has legs. If it does, then you pick a fall guy who was "doing this without permission." You let them admit something minor and they claim they "acted alone." Then you "disown" them, and see if people want more. If they do, then you find a friendly judge and hope for a conviction and a suspended sentence. If not, you find a job for them with a lobbying firm.

AndrewPrice said...

DCAlleyKat, I think you are right in general. I think the public is fed up. And this will hurt Obama a lot with people who didn't see him as corrupt before. In fact, even some of his supporters are furious that he brought Clinton into this because they thought they were getting rid of the Clintons and their penchant for scandal when they chose Obama over Hillary.

That said, you really can't count most Democrats in that "fed up" category. They talk the talk when it is Republicans who are accused of wrong-doing, but when it is their own side, they hypocritically pretend it's not a big. In fact, Obama could confess to being a serial killing child molester and you would see Democrats on television saying, "who cares, so long as he's a good leader" -- the same Democrats who would argue that a parking ticket should disqualify a Republican.

BevfromNYC said...

I predict that they will sacrifice Rahm Emanuel. His name keeps coming up and he is conveniently in Israel this week and unable to answer domestic questions...

FYI - Obama did the same thing in NY except HE did the dirty work and did it openly. He told Patterson not to run for Governor, but it was threat. THere was no quid pro quo. I think it was more, if you try and run, we will ruin you. Rather than don't run and we'll find a place for you.

AndrewPrice said...

CrisD, It's always ok to laugh at Bill Clinton!! :-)

Yeah, Team Obama is still playing by Chicago rules and they have yet to realize that that will create these "stepped in it" moments in Washington. Oh well.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Believe it or not, that is a legal threat unless something of value of was exchanged. But it certainly continues the pattern.

Interestingly, if I were a prosecutor, Obama's direct involvement in NY would be enough for me to go after him (rather than his underlings), even in these other cases because it would be very hard for him to argue that he was involved the one time, but had no idea what was going on in the others.

Regard Rahm, there has been a concerted effort among many Democrats to get rid of him for some time. So this might be an excellent opportunity for them to demand that he be sacrificed.

If it's not Rahm, then I suspect it will be Jim Messina (Obama's Deputy Chief of Staff) because his name has already come up in Colorado as the guy who promised a real job.

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew - I think in the case of NY it was so blatant that no one considered it illegal, just wrong. Even Rangel and Sharpton called Obama on it and told him to butt out of NY state politics.

Actually, seeing how Patterson has so screwed up on his own, it will be hard to prove that Obama had anything to do with it. Though Patterson gov campaign was shut down the day after he announced his bid. But that very well could be the Cuomo machine.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, This could actually turn into a problem for Obama if Patterson gets an appointment anywhere when his term ends.

BevfromNYC said...

I just read Dennis Hopper died.

AndrewPrice said...

I saw that too. And Gary Coleman. I like both. RIP.

BevfromNYC said...

Patterson will not be appointed to anything. He has been an embarrassment ever since he appointed Gillibrand over Obama's choice of Caroline Kennedy. You just don't diss a Kennedy. They can do that all by themselves. For example, Robert Kennedy Jr.'s wife was arrested this week for DWI, but then that's kind of a "dog-bites-man story" for a Kennedy, isn't it.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, That is indeed a dog bites man story. In fact, I take it for granted that all Kennedys are drunk 100% of the time. And if they're driving, then I assume that they've just participated in a murder or rape. . . unless they have proof to the contrary.

StanH said...

Wow Dennis Hopper dead! A real icon from the ‘60s from Rebel Without a Cause, Giant, Cool Hand Luke, Easy Rider, True Grit, Apocalypse Now, True Romance, the list is long. Andrew you asked the question about character actor, or supporting actor if you will, add Dennis Hopper.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, Hopper added a lot to films, that's for sure!

LL said...

Clinton is one of very few US Presidents to have been impeached (by the House and acquitted by the Senate 55 to 45) for lying to Congress. And even the most staunch liberal toady has to be scratching his head about the matter of a "volunteer job". I'm sure there are simpletons out there who will swallow this lie, but, give me a break!

It's a ship of fools.

AndrewPrice said...

LL, I suspect that everyone in the country right now knows that Clinton and Obama are lying. The question is going to be if the public chooses to act on this to turn a blind eye?

If it stays in the news cycle too long, then it will take on a life of its own. We'll see.

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