Darrell Issa: White House Can't Just Say it Didn't Break the Law

CBS

The White House is insisting that when an unnamed administration official allegedly offered Rep. Joe Sestak a job in return for dropping his Senate bid, "nothing inappropriate happened" -- but that's not good enough, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said today on Washington Unplugged.

Sestak, who defeated Sen. Arlen Specter to become the Democratic Party's nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania, maintained on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that such an offer had been made. However, he refused to give any details, such as whom from the White House he spoke with, or what job was offered.

Meanwhile, also on "Face the Nation," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, "Lawyers in the White House and others have looked into conversations that were had with Congressman Sestak, and nothing inappropriate happened."

Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is renewing his push for the White House to address the issue now that Sestak is the Democrats' Senate nominee. He is calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the offer, which he says could be a violation of the law. The conversation between Sestak and the official, Issa says, may have violated anti-bribery provisions of the federal criminal code as well as prohibitions on government officials interfering in elections and using federal jobs for a political purpose.

"No administration should be allowed to assume what they do and say is legal because they say it's legal," Issa told Unplugged moderator John Dickerson. "It's for Congress to decide whether or not this was inappropriate."

While Sestak should feel obligated to answer questions about the incident, Issa said, it is more a problem for the White House. Even Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner (N.Y.) and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine have said the White House should "come clean," Issa said.

"The White House could release an opinion of what was said and by whom," he said. "The sooner you get this out... the sooner they put it behind them."

Watch the discussion above, along with a conversation with CBSNews.com's Brian Montopoli about the GOP's win in Hawaii and Andrew Cuomo's New York gubernatorial bid. Also on the show: a behind the scenes discussion with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer.

"Washington Unplugged," CBSNews.com's exclusive daily politics Webshow, appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.

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