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Hannity

What Happened to Obama's Promise of a Transparent White House?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 28, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The self-proclaimed most transparent administration in history took months to finally get their story straight on the Sestak scandal. Now, if the explanation was so simple, why couldn't press secretary/propagandist Gibbs just answer the question? Did someone from the White House offer Joe Sestak a job? And how is this for the transparency that you were promised?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER, FEB. 23: The White House offered him a high-ranking job — do you guys have any comment on that?

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I was traveling for a couple of days, as you know. I have seen some stuff that he said, but I haven't — I have not looked into this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER, MARCH 9: You told us a couple of times you would check back on this. I want to know if there's an update number one, and number two —

GIBBS: I don't have the update with me. Let me check and see if I do have that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER, MARCH 11: Last Tuesday you told us, "I don't have the update with me on Sestak." Two things have happened since then. (INAUDIBLE) sent a letter to the White House counsel —

GIBBS: I don't have any — I don't have anything additional on that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER, MARCH 12: Do you have an answer yet on Mr. Sestak's charge?

GIBBS: I don't have any more information on that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER, MAY 20: What exactly was the conversation?

GIBBS: I don't have anything to add to what I said in March.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You never really explained what the conversation was.

GIBBS: I don't have anything to add to that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: If the White House offers a congressman a position in the administration in order to convince that congressman to not run for office...

GIBBS: I don't have anything to add to that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You said a number of times that you would get something for us.

GIBBS: And I did, and I gave that answer in March. And I don't have anything to add to that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You don't think the American people don't have a right to know about what exactly the conversation was?

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

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

HANNITY: It's like, my favorite tape.

All right. Joining me now is former White House press secretary, FoxNews contributor Dana Perino and Fox News political analyst Kirsten Powers, who gave me high praise the other night and admitted I was right.

KIRSTEN POWERS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I know. Look what happens, now you made me come back.

HANNITY: All right. All right, Dana, you've been in a pretty tough position. I'll acknowledge that job behind that podium is a pretty tough job. But Gibbs has been stumbling and fumbling and obfuscating for a long time.

Here's what I don't understand — after all this time...

DANA PERINO, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It might not be his fault.

HANNITY: What?

PERINO: It might not be his fault. I mean, in a way, I think that you have to take a step back. I think that, obviously, it's uncomfortable even as a listener to listen to a montage like that, because it does seem preposterous, especially when they did have an answer.

And the legalese that they used for the memo that they put out today is so twisted and uses the passive voice and creates a loophole, and it sort of gets you back to the technicalities of it, depends on what the definition of "it" is.

HANNITY: Yes.

PERINO: And so perhaps from the top the president or the chief of staff or the counsel's office were telling him not to answer that question, which — now, that's his judgment call. But I do think that we have to look higher up than Robert Gibbs on this.

HANNITY: Fair enough. I will admit that, and that's why they put him in the position to stumble and fumble and sound idiotic, in my view.

Here's where I — Kirsten, here's where I think they really made a very big mistake and they really did not calculate. What they did today, they admitted that they offered something of value. The law could not be any more clear. We have gone through in great specificity and in detail tonight.

And on top of it, it causes Joe Sestak's story that this was a job. It contradicts that, that it was from the administration. It contradicts that part of the story, that it was high ranking; it contradicts that story.

So what they did today, if they were going to do anything, they should have said there's some misunderstanding that we said, no, no, no, if you decided to get out, we're not offering an exchange. There was another way out of this, considering all the time that they had. And I think they've dug themselves a pretty deep hole here. As a Democrat, what do you think?

POWERS: Well, I think the way they've handled it has — has been problematic, because they should have — you know, this is a simple, straightforward thing. They should have come out sooner. This has become sort of the hallmark of the Obama administration, to just drag everything out and create a crisis where, really, none should exist.

And I think that, you know, I've looked at the law pretty closely. I've talked to different people about it. I understand why you're saying you think it's illegal. But I think the chances of something like this being prosecuted, very low, especially because it depends on how people remember the conversation. You'll notice that they never told us, actually, the version of Bill Clinton's conversation.

HANNITY: But the problem is, is we have a lot of tape. And Joe Sestak, there was no ambiguity. He said this was a job. He said this was high-ranking. He said this came from an administration official. You know, those are his words. And now they look really guilty, and I think they are. I think personally believe that —

POWERS: Well, just because someone's —

HANNITY: — we were fed a Bill of goods today to cover up — look, it's not just this. They're going to look into the Romanoff case. They're going to look into other cases.

POWERS: Yes. I would just caution that, just because someone is acting guilty doesn't mean that they are guilty. I think that sometimes in these situations, I've been in them, where you're trying to reconstruct things. A lot of times people's memories aren't that good.

HANNITY: Maybe that's — maybe that's why they got in touch with Joe Sestak's brother. Maybe that's why Bill Clinton was at the White House yesterday. But you can't escape this reality. It's not the same story that Sestak was telling.

POWERS: But they got in contact with Sestak's brother in the context of — that they were releasing this document. Not in any other context.

HANNITY: All right. Let me go to Dana.

POWERS: Look, Sean, I want to say, I do think that this, whether it's illegal or not, I think that — whether or not people do this all the time or not, I do think Obama has a higher standard. He set himself a higher standard. And he's not living up to it.

HANNITY: Dana, I think the problem is actually bigger than that. Because I think at some point there's going to be an independent investigation. We're going to get a hold of e-mails. We're going to get a hold of phone logs and phone records here.

And I think they're going to have a very difficult time explaining away — Sestak in particular, and the administration in particular — Sestak's comments about "I don't view this as a job." I don't think anybody would define that as a high-ranking job by any definition. So in that sense...

PERINO: Well, remember...

HANNITY: ... it's also a thing of value. So it doesn't even matter if it's a job.

PERINO: Right, under the law. And I'll let the lawyers figure that out. But a couple of things. Remember, this could not have been their final offer. This was their opening bid, right?

HANNITY: That's a good point. Good point.

PERINO: And the other thing is that all the defense today from the left has been, "Well, this is done all the time." But remember, I personally never experienced that. But even if that were true, President Obama campaigned as a president who was not going to have business as usual.

HANNITY: Yes. Well, I think one of the things that we could do.

PERINO: And so he's chipped away at his credibility.

HANNITY: And Kirsten, I'll give you the last word on this. You're right: he did campaign as somebody that would run Washington differently, that he would be more transparent. Would it be too much to ask that all correspondence, all phone logs, all e-mails, in the spirit of transparency, be released to the American people, say, by Wednesday of next week?

POWERS: I think you could ask for that. It sounds like there was one phone call. So I don't know how much there's going to be.

But look, I do think my initial reflex was, "So what? This happens you all the time." But when you think about it, it's actually not OK that they were interfering in a primary with a very qualified candidate. Sestak is a very qualified candidate. There's no reason he shouldn't be running in that primary. And, you know, I think that there was improper, and I don't think it's what people expect from the president.

HANNITY: Listen, we have a — we have a former governor — a former governor of Illinois that's being prosecuted for getting something — trying to get something of value, you know, for a Senate seat. We've got an allegation in The Denver Post this is not the right-wing conspiracy, that this is not the first time they've done this.

And all right, predictions before we go. Dana, do you think this is going to be a big issue for weeks to come?

PERINO: Well, this is what I would say, Sean. In America, in a democracy, you don't get to just police yourself. You don't get to do an investigation of yourself and say, "Oh, we cleared ourselves after we investigated ourselves."

I think they have to be willing to let an independent person look at it. I'm not saying it has to be a special prosecutor. But I think America deserves an independent review, and I think they'll demand it.

HANNITY: You think this will go on for a long time, Kirsten? Real quick.

POWERS: I'm quite confident, Sean, you'll be talking about this every night next week.

HANNITY: I think that's actually a fairly good prediction. Kirsten Powers scores twice in two appearances.

All right, guys. Good to see you both. Thanks for being with us.

POWERS: All right.

PERINO: Bye.

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