Sestak, White House Playing for Same Team?

Published May 27, 2010

| FoxNews.com

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 26, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: News of the White House's alleged attempt to bribe Congressman Joe Sestak into dropping out of the Pennsylvania Senate race has lingered in the public for four months now and the longer it does so the more bizarre it becomes.

Now over the past several months, Sestak has had the chance to repeat his allegations against the White House. And as the American Spectator points out, he sounds eerily similar each time he does so. Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

REP. JOE SESTAK, D-PA., ON "AMERICA'S NEWSROM" FEB. 19: I was asked a direct question yesterday and I answered it — answered it honestly. There's nothing more to go into.

BRET BAIER, HOST, "SPECIAL REPORT", MARCH 10: Did the White House offer you a job to not get in the primary?

SESTAK: I answered that, yes. And I answered it honestly. But to go beyond that doesn't serve any purpose.

DAVID GREGORY, HOST, "MEET THE PRESS," MAY 23: Were you offered a job and what was the job?

SESTAK: I was offered a job and I answered that.

GREGORY: You said no, you wouldn't take the job.

SESTAK: Right. And I also said, look —

GREGORY: Was it the secretary of the Navy?

(CROSSTALK)

GREGORY: Was it the secretary of the Navy job?

SESTAK: Anything that goes beyond that is others — for others to talk about.

JOHN KING, HOST, "SOTU," MAY 23: What specifically did they offer you, sir?

SESTAK: Well, I was actually asked by a reporter something that a few months ago that had happened almost eight months earlier.

KING: Right.

SESTAK: And I answered it honestly.

KING: You answered it honestly. You said they offered you a job.

SESTAK: I said — and I did answer it honestly and said yes.

BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST, "FACE THE NATION," MAY 23: Did the White House offer you a position in the administration if you would not run?

SESTAK: Yes. I was asked that question months after it happened. And I felt an obligation to answer it honestly and I said yes.

SCHIEFFER: Can you tell us what job?

SESTAK: No, no, Bob, and I said at the time anything beyond just gets into politics.

(END OF VIDEO CLIPS)

HANNITY: All right, but Sestak is not alone. Responses from the White House have been evasive, too. Robert Gibbs and David Axelrod have refused to answer questions on the subject as we have seen over the past few days and when the issue reached the attorney general of the United States, well, take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM MAY 13)

REP. DARRELL ISSA, R-CALIF.: What are you presently doing and what will you commit to do, including hopefully, a special prosecutor or a special investigator, about these allegations —

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have great faith in the people in the public integrity section who would typically handle these kinds of matters. I was a member of the public integrity section for —

ISSA: Fine. I sent you a letter and you've not responded to it. What is the response to investigating this?

HOLDER: I don't talk about any matter that might come into the purview of the Department of Justice.

ISSA: OK, if I offer you a job in the White House — let's say secretary of the Navy — in return for your doing something, such as dropping out of an elected office to clear a primary, is that a serious crime?

HOLDER: I don't answer hypotheticals.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: All right, now this raises the question why are both parties being so evasive? Now is it possible that they are being coached from the same playbook? After all with an election win in November there is no question that Sestak and the White House are now playing for the same team.

And unfortunately for them it appears that they have made some enemies in the Democratic establishment. People as high up as the DNC Chair Tim Kaine are calling on Sestak and the White House to answer these tough questions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "FOX NEWS SUNDAY" ON MAY 23)

TIM KAINE, DNC CHAIRMAN: Look, if the question gets asked it is something that they should — that they should deal with.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: And Illinois Senator Dick Durbin joined the chorus as well, telling CNN, quote, "Congressman Sestak raised the issue. If there's been some confusion I hope he can make the facts as clear as possible. That as far as the administration is concerned, well, they will react to it."

So will the two parties come clean? Joining me now with analysis on this unfolding scandal are chief political correspondent from the Washington Examiner, Fox News contributor, Byron York and California Congressman Darrell Issa is back with us.

Guys, welcome back to the program.

BYRON YORK, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Thank you.

ISSA: Thank you.

HANNITY: All right, can we first establish, Congressman, that if in fact he was offered a job to get out of the race that that is a crime?

ISSA: It is a crime. There's no question that anything as you saw in Illinois in trade for an office is criminal to offer. You cannot offer these positions in return for anything of value.

HANNITY: OK. And obviously, Byron, you know all reports are that it was secretary of the Navy. What is your reporting telling you?

YORK: Well, that's what everybody thinks. And everyone thinks that the person who offered it was the White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

The White House cannot go on like this. Sestak sounds just plain weird when he says well, they offered me a job but I just can't say anything more about it. Clearly, what you — what you have is you have a conversation. There were two parties to it. We need to find out what each side said.

And I just don't think they can continue. The president is going to have a news conference tomorrow and he's going to be asked about it. They're going to have to offer more information.

HANNITY: All right. So we should have a little bit more light shed on this, Congressman. Let's go to the different statutes and the different laws that we're talking about. We have 18 U.S. Code 600 says that the — a federal official cannot promise employment, a job in the federal government in return for a political act.

And section 18 U.S. Code 2010, 2011 says you cannot accept anything of value in return for hiring somebody to the nomination for a fellow Democrat, which is something of value.

So I would think any position is by definition against the law because it's something of value. So that's where we stand, right?

ISSA: Absolutely, Sean. And, you know, many get confused because politics does have a dirty little secret which is that people help people get elected. And then those who helped them get elected often get positions.

Where you cross the line is when you have the power to do it and you make a promise. And it's very clear that that's what Congressman Admiral Sestak has said is, that a person of power in the White House offered him this position in return for getting or not getting into the race.

HANNITY: Yes.

ISSA: And that violates several laws.

HANNITY: All right. Now you have been seeking a special counsel. You are the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. And you want this investigation. Eric Holder said no investigation. Republicans now come back today and they said no, no, no, we want a prosecutor here.

What do you think the chances are you'll be able to get this?

ISSA: Well, I've always wanted — Sean, I've always wanted an answer. And if I got an answer from the White House even if I didn't like it that would take care a great deal for you and for me.

Having said that, when seven senators in the Senate say that they wanted the implied threat is or judges aren't going to get confirmed and other things that the president wants that even the minority can do in the Senate, it becomes serious enough that I suspect in the next couple of days, we're going to get something that the White House believes will put this matter behind us.

HANNITY: Byron, look at what's happening in terms of — you got Ed Rendell. He is asking everybody to come clean. Dick Durbin, as we just pointed out, he's asking; Anthony Weiner; The Philly Enquirer; The Washington Post; they are demanding answers to these questions.

So, you know, these are all — the newspapers on the left, congressmen on the left, they seem — government officials on the left, they are now pressuring them. Is there anything that you can think of that the president can say in this press conference that can put this to rest tomorrow?

YORK: Well, the president could say that the White House is going to say exactly what took place; what Rahm Emanuel said and what Representative Sestak said.

HANNITY: Wait a minute. Wait a — admit to a crime maybe?

YORK: They could say that. What's going to happen, Sean, though, is nothing is really going to happen unless there's a real public firestorm. Go back to the Valerie Plame affair during the Bush administration. At that time Republicans controlled the White House, the House and the Senate. They didn't really have to do anything. But there was such public pressure that the president authorized the appointment of a special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. It went on for a very long time. It was only as a result of public pressure.

So here again, you have the president controlling the White House and the House and the Senate.

HANNITY: All right.

YORK: They don't have to do anything.

HANNITY: Last question.

YORK: Only if there is pressure will they.

HANNITY: All right. Last question, Congressman. If it turns out that they did offer something of value as we've pointed out the U.S. Code says it is against the law, I can't imagine that anybody that works for the president could have done this without his permission.

If the president of the United States offered such a thing, is that a high crime and misdemeanor, if your mind?

ISSA: It is in fact. That's not the question. The question is, will the president put it behind him and then dare the Congress to bring articles of impeachment? Historically presidents have done — from Andrew Jackson on — done things that really infuriated the Congress.

But when they're disclosed in a timely fashion they usually end up being far less than anything that would require impeachment. And I don't expect this to be about impeachment. But if it goes on like Watergate does, or did, you begin to realize that the American people will want more than just an admonishment.

HANNITY: All right. I think it's a fair question. What did he know and when did he know it? And we're going to be asking that question until we get the answers.

Guys, thanks for being with us. We appreciate it.

ISSA: Thanks, Sean.

YORK: Thank you, Sean.

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