White House's Questionable Job Offers; Results of Obama, Brewer Meeting

From left to right: Tucker Carlson, Erin Billings, Charles Krauthammer, Bret Baier

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

ANDREW ROMANOFF, D-COLO., U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: He suggested three positions that might be available to me were I not to pursue a Senate race and e-mailed me descriptions of those positions that day. I informed him that I was not going to change course.

 

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Does the leader of the party have an interest in ensuring that primaries that tend to be costly aren't had so that you are ready for a general election? Of course.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

BRET BAIER, "SPECIAL REPORT" HOST: There you have it, the response from the White House today about the newest job offer or offers dangled in front of a Senate primary candidate. There you see Andrew Romanoff in Colorado. He says the deputy chief of staff Jim Messina reached out to him in September of 2009 to try to get him perhaps not in the Senate primary against incumbent Senator Michael Bennett with three possible job offers in an e-mail that is now public.

 

This, of course, comes after the Joe Sestak scenario, and there are still questions about what was offered specifically and how many times he was talked to about that Senate primary in Pennsylvania, which he is now the nominee. That's not all. Let's bring in the panel to talk about all of this, Tucker Carlson, editor of thedailycaller.com, Erin Billings, deputy editor of Roll Call, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. OK, Tucker, here is the latest. What do you think?

 

TUCKER CARLSON, EDITOR, THEDAILYCALLER.COM: Leaving aside whether or not it's legal, it's awfully cynical. Mr. Romanoff, whatever his many charms and accomplishments, is totally unqualified to hold these jobs he was offered. And he was in fact offered them. I know the White House position is he applied.

 

BAIER: USAID.

 

CARLSON: Right, the director of democracy for USAID. You have to be cynical to offer a job like that. By its title, is presumably important one, spreading democracy to the world, to some guy whose only qualification in international relations is having taught after college briefly before grad school in Nicaragua.

 

I think they will have to answer for that. I was sad that there weren't more questions today in the briefing asked of Mr. Gibbs on the subject. I'll be very interested to see how it helps Andrew Romanoff in the primary, because he has an effect, whatever his role motive, he has in effect to staked out an opinion against Obama. It helped Sestak in Pennsylvania in the primary. Will it help Romanoff? That will tell you a lot about what the midterms will look like.

 

BAIER: Erin, Representative Issa continues to ask for questions and other congressmen now are on the list as well saying this is illegal what the White House has been doing.

 

There are more questions about the perception here. Politico had an article today that this is bumbling. Here is a quote: "Taken together the Sestak and Romanoff cases suggest a White House team that is one part Richard Daley, the Chicago mayor, and one part Barney Fife. One senior House Democrat said it's baffling 'how one group of people can be so good at campaigning and so bad at politics,' a phrasing nearly identical to that of a second veteran House Democrat who expressed the same sentiment.”

 

ERIN BILLINGS, DEPUTY EDITOR, ROLL CALL: That's actually a good point. This is an operation that ran an incredible campaign that got this president into office. We all remarked at how well they ran that campaign. And yet the political operation ran by Rahm Emanuel and Jim Messina as the deputy, obviously whether or not there was something illegal or not, it is a perception issue.

 

BAIER: They clearly weren't successful.

 

BILLINGS: They weren't successful. You know, let's see if there is a third. I hope for the White House's sake there isn't, because if there is, then we actually have a trend.

 

The Republicans are going to keep the heat on. Darrell Issa has been championing this in the House. We have now the Minority Leader Boehner weighing in, saying we want all the answers. We want everything disclosed. You promise to be a transparent White House, now be transparent.

 

BAIER: There is potentially a third. Rod Blagojevich's trial in Chicago has started and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been subpoenaed in the trial to see what the transition team really tried to do to get that Senate seat appointed.

 

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: And there the prosecutor's overt charge is that the governor was selling the seat. We know that the president has a perfectly legitimate interest in getting his appointee to his seat. But the question is was anything offered in that particular case?

 

I think it was interesting in the Romanoff case, the White House is trying to stay just this side of the legal line by using the word "dangling" rather than "offering."

 

And look, the White House says there wasn't a quid pro quo, so that's why it's kosher. But Gibbs admitted what the quo was when he said the president has an interest in clearing the field. So clearly the objective was to get him out of the race. That's the quo. And the quid was the three jobs.

 

So I think it's really out there. This is pretty on the line. In the Sestak case I think there is less evidence of bribery, but the real issue there is veracity and lying. The story from Sestak and the White House don't stack up. The statement from the White House lawyer said there were inquiries made over the month of June and July. Sestak said there was one call, under a minute. Well, that doesn't match.

 

So there are lies here, there is something being covered up. What were the other offers who made them? So I think it is two different cases but each of them looks real bad. In journalism, one incident is anecdote, three is a trend, and here we are hovering in the middle at two.

 

BAIER: Quickly, Tucker, Representative Issa says the law, the statute is clear here. While everybody says it happens all the time, he says as soon as the White House offers a federal job or uses federal paid employees to make these calls or e-mails to reach out to them from the White House, that Messina or whomever has crossed a number of lines both ethically and legally.

 

Is there more to this here from Issa and others point of view?

 

CARLSON: I believe that to be true. In order to influence a primary in a specific case. I think that is right, and I think that question also pertains to what happened in the Blagojevich case. There are federal authorities under penalty of perjury from two people saying they had direct knowledge of the White House offering in effect to pay the governor to put Valerie Jarrett in that Senate seat. That is not a small allegation.

 

BAIER: OK, we'll follow it here. Go to our homepage at foxnews.com/specialreport. You can vote on your pick for Friday's lightning round. Go to your choice online on the right of the screen. Let us know what you think as well.

 

Up next, what the All-Stars think about the president's meeting with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Although, I understand the frustration of the people of Arizona when it comes to the inflow of illegal immigrants, I don't think this is the right way to do it.

 

I think this puts American citizens who look Hispanic, are Hispanic, potentially in a unfair situation. It also creates the prospect of 50 different laws in 50 states when it comes to immigration. This is a federal job.

 

GOV. JAN BREWER, R-ARIZ.: I believe we are protecting the people of Arizona, and beyond that I believe we're protecting the people of America. We need to secure our border.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

BAIER: In an interview with CNN's Larry King, President Obama agreed with the governor of Arizona on one thing, that the federal government has dropped the ball on immigration. There you see their meeting in the Oval Office.

 

Obviously, there is a lot of back and forth and different opinions about Arizona's new immigration law, but what about where it goes from here and comprehensive immigration reform?

 

We're back with the panel. Erin, what about this meeting and what was said from both sides?

 

BILLINGS: It sounds like the meeting was really kind of "nothing burger," if you will. They had some pleasantries. It was cordial. They talked about border security, something they both agree on. Obama apparently pressed for immigration reform, comprehensive reform, and asked Governor Brewer to join with him in tht effort. She obviously cares about shoring up the border first. She made that clear.

 

Did it advance the ball? I don't think so. It didn't appear to. It was more of a meet and greet. We're back to where we are.

 

BAIER: And the White House was essentially pressured into the meeting, conceding to putting her on the schedule after there was an outcry he wouldn't meet with her. What about this, Tucker?

 

CARLSON: He's already staked out a pretty stark position. With Larry King and with the president of Mexico he was saying the voters of Arizona and their officials are bigots.

 

That is the fundamental problem with the law is it is discriminatory in effect. That is a pretty stout thing to say, hard to walk back from that. You heard Robert Gibbs say today, the clearest explanation of the president's policy I've heard, to date, saying the governor of Arizona is interested in first securing the border and moving forward from that.

 

The president is interested in comprehensive immigration reform first. His first priority is not securing the borders, which is honest, if nothing else. He won't win a lot of swing voters but maybe it will help his base.

 

BILLINGS: I don’t know if that's exactly accurate. He did offer up this new border security plan. Whether it was responding to political pressure or not, he clearly said that border security is --

 

BAIER: That is how Gibbs portrayed the point at the podium. He made that stark, you know, she's for securing the border first and he is for a more comprehensive --

 

KRAUTHAMMER: Right, which makes the show of sending the 1,200 National Guard pure show. Gibbs is honest about this.

 

There is something very odd about this. The executive is required under our constitution to execute the laws. We have laws about immigration. The government by its own acknowledgment has failed 10 million times to enforce it since there are that many illegals in the United States.

 

And now it says we'll only enforce it if we get comprehensive reform, i.e., we are not going to enforce an existing law until we get a change in a law or new law. You can't hold an existing law hostage, the enforcement of an existing law if you are the executive, to a legislative agenda you have. You have to enforce the law.

 

I do not understand how they can say this with a straight face in a constitutional democracy. You have to enforce the law.

 

Secondly, politically, it makes no sense. If you want to get a national consensus on legalization, you will get it only if and when Americans are convinced this is the last cohort of illegals who are going to be legalized, not if the door remains open and you're going to get a flood of new people if you enforce legal immigration.

 

You shut the border, you'll get a majority of Americans who want to have comprehensive legalization.

 

BAIER: At the same time, Charles, the Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court ruling that upheld Arizona's right to punish employers for hiring illegals. This is a ninth circuit ruling, one of the most liberal courts in the U.S., and the Obama administration wants to take it to the court.

 

KRAUTHAMMER: Which tells you again it's all for show, it's all to shore up the base. They are going to have a rough November election. They want to have Hispanics on their side. They want to show they're pulling out all the stops.

 

There is not a snowball chance in hell of getting this through the Supreme Court if the ninth, which, as you say, is the most liberal, has already struck it down.

 

BAIER: They're essentially saying the ninth was too conservative in this ruling.

 

CARLSON: Moreover, if you are not for this restriction, if you're not for punishing employers for hiring illegals, and you're also not for allowing law enforcement enforcing immigration laws, then what enforcement efforts are you in favor of? Are you in favor of any? It's actually an honest question. I would like to hear someone ask Mr. Gibbs this. What do you favor?

 

BAIER: Five seconds, Erin. And that's a lot of time. Comprehensive immigration reform legislation?

 

BILLINGS: I feel like a broken record, beating a dead horse here. This year, no. Let's talk in January 2011. There is no appetite for it.

 

BAIER: That was seven.

 

 

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