On the Friday before a long holiday weekend, the White House issued a statement admitting that President Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel arranged for former President Bill Clinton to ask Representative Joe Sestak if he would consider dropping out of Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate primary. Mention was made in their discussion of Sestak’s possible appointment to a prominent, but unpaid, government advisory position if he did decide to drop out.
The apologists for the Obama administration will argue that Clinton did not have the authority to offer – much less promise – a position in the executive branch as an inducement for Sestak to drop out of the Pennsylvania Democratic primary. At most, they will argue, there was just a quick feeler from a private citizen, albeit an ex-President.
However, the key question was what was promised, if anything, and under whose authority.
Emanuel, as a government employee, may have committed a felony under 18 U.S.C. 600 if, through his emissary Bill Clinton, Emanuel communicated a promise of an appointment in the executive branch if Sestak agreed to drop out of the Senate primary and not challenge the Democratic Party establishment’s choice, Arlen Specter:
Whoever, directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit, provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress, or any special consideration in obtaining any such benefit, to any person as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party in connection with any general or special election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
Here we have President Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel:
(1) ” directly or indirectly” – through his buddy Bill Clinton – communicating to Sestak
(2) a ”promise” of a “position,” ” appointment” or “other benefit” [i.e., an appointment to a high level presidential advisory board] or, at the very least, ”special consideration in obtaining any such benefit”
(3) as a ”reward” for “the support of any candidate or any political party in connection with any primary election” [i.e., Sestak would get the appointment if he clears the field for the Democratic Party establishment's choice Arlen Specter and give up his primary challenge].
At the very least a Special Prosecutor should be appointed to look into what really happened. So far all we have is the self-serving statement of Obama’s chief counsel that nothing inappropriate happened.
Bill Clinton may also have committed a felony by serving as Emanuel’s emissary, but at this point he is of far less concern than the current President. The American people have the right to know what President Obama knew about this incident and when he knew it to determine whether an impeachable offense may have been committed.