May 27th, 2010
06:25 PM ET
8 years ago

President Obama shares little about Sestak job speculation

President Obama refuted allegations of impropriety surrounding reports that his administration offered Rep. Joe Sestak a job in exchange for dropping his Pennsylvania senate bid.

President Obama refuted allegations of impropriety surrounding reports that his administration offered Rep. Joe Sestak a job in exchange for dropping his Pennsylvania senate bid.

(CNN) - Amid a press conference that largely focused on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama refuted allegations of impropriety surrounding reports that his administration offered Rep. Joe Sestak a position several months ago if he would drop his Pennsylvania Senate bid.

"I can assure the public that nothing improper took place," the President said, at the end of his hour-long press conference.

But Obama refused to give any more details on the alleged offer, even as several Republicans and a handful of Democrats have demanded the White House be more upfront on the matter.

(Updated with Sestak comments after the jump.)

"There will be an official response shortly on the Sestak issue, which I hope will answer your questions," Obama said when asked about the issue at the end of an hour press conference. "You will get it from my administration. And it will be coming out, when I say shortly, I mean shortly. I don't mean weeks or months."

Sestak defeated Sen. Arlen Specter in last Tuesday's Democratic Pennsylvania Senate primary, but three months ago - when he faced longer odds against his Democratic opponent - the Philadelphia-area congressman said that someone in the White House offered him a job on the condition that he quit the race.

Sestak has since refused to reveal any more details about the job offer – a pattern he continued earlier this week in an interview on CNN's "John King USA."

"I will let others speak for themselves," Sestak said when asked whom he talked to at the White House."I have said all I am going to say on the matter,"

White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod also told CNN earlier this week that if White House officials offered Sestak a job in exchange for abandoning the Senate race, it would constitute "a serious breach of the law."

Pressed on the matter, Axelrod would not say whether the White House planned to reveal which officials had conservations with Sestak.

On Wednesday, all seven Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee called for a special prosecutor to look into the matter.

UPDATE 6:50 p.m.: After Obama's press conference Thursday, Rep. Sestak told reporters that his brother Richard, who works as an attorney for Sestak's Senate campaign, was called by the White House.

Sestak said as soon as the White House releases information he will have more to say and the Pennsylvania Democrat pledged to meet with reporters to answer any further questions.

He said "I presently don't" have plans to speak with the White House before it releases its report, and he repeatedly said he did not know when the report would be issued.

Sestak maintained that the controversy over whether he was offered a job to get him not to run against Sen. Specter has not had any impact on his Senate race. "Not at all. Not at all. We have just kept on going," he said.

The Senate hopeful said that in his many campaign stops he has yet to have anyone in Pennsylvania ask him about the controversy with the exception of one reporter.

"I understand Washington, D.C. This is of interest to Washington D.C., but the fact is I was asked a question, you know, something that happened 7-8 months earlier. And if you look at the original interview I just said yes, and beyond that, anything, except this, is for others."

Filed under: 2010 • Joe Sestak • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Joke

    Change you can believe in. The audacity of hope. Yes we can. Hypocrit!

    May 27, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  2. Rick CT

    So much for transparency. Yet another broken promise.

    May 27, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  3. Arthur


    I cannot judge how true this story is but I believe the President is intelligent enough to realize that you get all the facts out straight away, you don't leave time for people to speculate. Unfortunately it's now speculation time and it highlights the current administration's major handicap – they don't know how to manage information flows to the public, and the one big example of this was the health care debate. They seriously have issues with always explaining the first time their plans and this is what at times brings criticism of such plans, not the merits of such plans....

    May 27, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  4. Ted

    Geez, people. The guy made a statement that no wrong doing occurred. So why is the media wanting more clarification? Where was the media when George Bush lied about the reason to go to war in Iraq? It is the old pound Obama tactic. Well the media and the GOP need to find something better to do. Go investigate Bush and Cheney, losers.

    May 27, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. Joe

    SPECIAL PROSECUTOR???? Are these people on drugs? Is the GOP becoming so anti-Obama that they are suggesting that the President is not allowed to make an offer of employment to a qualified candidate to fill a position within his administration? Oh, I see what the problem would be. Unlike what happened with the U.S. Attorneys positions in the Bush Administration, this could have involved actually offering a job to a QUALIFIED individual. This is all typical political BS. The GOP should worry more about having a policy agenda than trying to run down Democrats. Just saying no is not going to move this country forward.

    May 27, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  6. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Why do Republicans continue to allow themselves to be lead into a trap that always backfires on them. They will never learn.

    May 27, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. AngryMobVoter

    The American people deserve details and truth not assurances. The arrogance of this Administration is amazing. We should have a special prosecutor to ask everyone involved who said what to who when. By evading the question, Joe Sestak is clearly not fit to be a Senator from Pennsylvania or to hold any other office for that matter.


    May 27, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  8. Charlie M.

    Sounds like, "If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is," Bush told reporters at an impromptu news conference during a fund-raising stop in Chicago, Illinois. "If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of."–CNN, 02/11/2004

    How is it different now?

    May 27, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  9. Captain Awesome

    what is there to think about? You either did offer Sestak a bribe or you didn't. Let's see if this scandal rises to the same level as the Valerie Plame scandal, or will the media ignore it?

    May 27, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  10. Mark Hudson

    Why is Obama ducking and running on this issue? I think we already have our answer.

    May 27, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  11. Eli

    Hope? Change? Transparency?

    May 27, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  12. Bob

    Obama holds his first press conference in months and then refuses to answer a simple question. This guy is great at dodging tough questions and the media goes along with it.

    May 27, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. Minnesotan

    Obama needs to do much more shady stuff like this. Bush did it on a daily basis to the point the media couldn't keep up. There is something to be said about constantly changing the media's focus from the previous scandal to a new one each and every day. They are never able to get much out of a scandal if they have to move onto the next one before anyone even knows what just happened.

    May 27, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  14. KIM

    The "official" response will come out shortly , when they come up with
    a "good story."

    May 27, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  15. ric

    You who defend Obama without the facts, are the very same who would scream "SPECIAL PROSECUTOR" if this were a republican administration. You're hypocrites, thru and thru. We know it, you know it.

    And you call this "change"? You're delusional.

    May 27, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |

    OBAMA RULES! You want to talk transparency? Haliburton is OWNED by Cheney and has caused the biggest disaster of ALL time...And people are blaming Obama? Get a clue, life and maybe you should double your dosage!!!!!

    May 27, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  17. Who Cares?

    Republican Priorities :

    1. Sestak Situation

    1,000,000 – Massive Oil Spill that could literally kill the Gulf.

    Way to go GOP! Please keep showing just how evil you are.

    May 27, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  18. Maude

    Here we go..... cat like readyness to pounce on the guy, with or without evidence or any callaboration.

    This country is so divided and is ripe to implode from within.

    May 27, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  19. sonny chapman

    Surprise ! The Repubs. want to launch an investigation of a Dem. Prez. The last time this happened, the Repubs. started off with a land deal in Arkansas & ended up enlightening us about a BJ in the White House. Of course, they were just doing their Constitutional duty & hated every minute of "where the investigation led us."

    May 27, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  20. Pragmatic

    From an article in Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2001:

    "Minnesota House Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty said Wednesday that he won't run for the U.S. Senate in 2002, but only because Vice President Dick Cheney called him on his cell phone earlier in the morning and urged him not to challenge St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman for the Republican nomination.

    On Tuesday night, White House political strategist Karl Rove called Pawlenty and urged him not to run. Pawlenty said he was still intending to begin an exploratory candidacy after the Rove call.

    But the request from Cheney, which came as Pawlenty was returning from a dentist's office with his daughters, was impossible to resist....

    May 27, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  21. CA Indie for Obama

    So, now that the dems are being a bit mum on some political manuervering, the repuklicans are up in arms. Pres Obama is just taking a page out of w's playbook of no disclosure. hey repukes, don;t like do you? what made you think others enjoyed it during bush's terms?
    remember, all political activity can go both ways. small issue compared to the oil spill, n korea economy etc.

    May 27, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  22. Who Cares?

    I kind of hope these Republican Senators do try to bully Obama by impeachment talks, etc.

    Then he goes – Ok..I've tried not to do this but we are now opening criminal charges against Bush and Cheney.

    Reap what you sow.

    May 27, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  23. ouspensky

    Wake up people. He's lied countless times in the past, he's lying now, and I guarantee that like all experienced liars he'll lie in the future.

    Boy did he ever sucker the gullible among us to vote for him!

    May 27, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  24. All the news that is fit to omit

    Why can't they answer NOW, or do the lies need to be put in order?

    This is NOT a new story, Sestak said it on Febuary 19th which is WELL OVER THREE MONTHS AGO and the LSM has ignored it except for the usual suspects.

    By the way Oweblamo sheep, some DEMOCRATS have FINALLY started pushing for answers, not just Republicans and not just Fox news (who has been on it for months) but even David Gregory and Anderson Cooper have been asking questions....

    Oweblama is the worst President EVER and the most corrupt.

    THIS IS ILLEGAL, to offer a JOB (not support like Cheney did) for someone getting out of ANY political race, JOB bad, SUPPORT in another race is OK nitwits.

    May 27, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  25. Jerry - Florida

    This whole administration has lied from day one. So, don't expect any new truths from President NObama or his idiotic cronies. And now that Sestak is at the helm, don't expect any true statements from him either. I have a gutt feeling Sestak will end up being an embarrassment for the Democratic Party.

    I also wonder whether we would have been better off Senator Senator Arlen (Turncoat) Specter. I really hope Pennsylvanians chose the best one of the worst two candidates.

    Now if this was a Republican issue, all the hypocritical Democrats, including the "Liar-in- Chief" himself, President NObama, would be asking for someones head on a plate.

    Sometimes I am ashamed to have always followed the Democratic Party's ideals.

    May 27, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
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