The Blog

Gibbs Grilled Over Sestak Bribery Claim

7:59 PM, May 20, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Earlier today, I noted that the Washington Post's piece on Joe Sestak didn't even mention Sestak's claim that he'd been offered a job by the White House if he would have dropped out of the race against Arlen Specter. At today's White House press briefing, ABC's Jake Tapper, CNN's Ed Henry, and another reporter grilled Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Sestak's claim (full transcript after the jump). Julie Mason reports:

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was questioned closely and at length today about whether the White House would care to clear the air about Pennsylvania Democrat Joe Sestak's claim he was offered a federal job if he'd drop out of the race against Sen. Arlen Specter. Here is what Gibbs had to say:

I don’t have anything to add to what I said in March.

I don’t have anything to add today.

I don’t have anything to add to that.

I gave that answer in March, and I don’t have anything to add to that.

Jake, I don’t have anything to add to what I said in March.

I don’t have anything to add to what Jake asked me.

I will just refer you to what I said in March."

Is Ari Fleischer back at the podium? Asked if he was told by the White House Counsel's office to basically stonewall, Gibbs said "no," and asked if he could look into the matter and get back with more information, Gibbs declined. How incurious of him! But -- he must have said it all in March, yes? Here is what he said on March 16:

"I'm told that whatever conversations have been had are not problematic," Gibbs said. "I think Congressman Sestak has discussed that this is — whatever happened is in the past, and he's focused on his primary election."

If only it was that easy, Robert.

Meanwhile, prior to this grilling, the WaPo's Dave Weigel defended the fact that journalists (or at least his colleague at the Post) were uninterested in this story:

There are a number of reasons why reporters aren't interested in this story. The "stonewall" is the big one -- Sestak will curtly repeat his version of the story whenever asked, but the White House blows off questions about it.

Huh? When those in power don't want to give journalists answers, journalists should be uninterested in asking questions? Aren't those the stories journalists should be most interested in? Isn't the stonewalling in and of itself a story?

Weigel also writes that it's nonsensical and laughable that the White House would have made such an offer. I fail to see what is nonsensical about the idea that the White House offerred a job to Sestak in exchange for his dropping out of a race against the White House's preferred candidate.

Here's the transcript from today's briefing:

   Q    And Sestak -- several months ago, I asked you on February 23rd if you could find out more about what Sestak said about the White House making him an offer to not run.  And I know that in March you said whatever conversations have been had are not problematic.  But I’m wondering since this has become an issue in Congressman Sestak’s campaign and will likely be -- continue to be an issue, if you could -- if you want to put it to rest right now, what exactly was the conversation?

 

     MR. GIBBS:  Jake, I don’t have anything to add to what I said in March.

 

     Q    But you never -- you never really explained what the conversation was.

 

     MR. GIBBS:  Then I don’t have anything to add today.

 

     Q    But if the White House offers a congressman a position in the administration in order to convince that congressman to not run for office --

 

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 18 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers