Watch CBSN Live

Darrell Issa Calls for Special Prosecutor in Sestak Case


Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder today calling for a special prosecutor to investigate whether the White House broke the law in allegedly promising Rep. Joe Sestak a job in exchange for withdrawing from the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary.

"This request follows attempts I have made to obtain more information from the White House. I have written two letters asking some basic questions," the California Republican said. "To date, the White House has not responded. The White House's unwillingness to clearly and emphatically deny Rep. Sestak's allegations of criminal conduct leads me to conclude that his account is accurate, reliable and truthful."

As Hotsheet reported in March, Issa has been pushing for the White House to provide details of conversations between Sestak and administration officials in the wake of Sestak's comment during a radio interview that he was offered a high-ranking administration job in exchange for dropping his primary challenge against Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter.

Asked if that job was secretary of the Navy, Sestak declined to comment. His press secretary told CBS News in March that the lawmaker stands by his original statement that he was offered the job.

In an interview with Hotsheet last month, Issa stood by his claim that White House behavior over the matter has "all the makings of a cover up."

"The public has a right to know who asked what, when. A congressman has made an allegation that is likely a felony," he said.

Issa has sent two letters to the White House asking for information about communications between Sestak and administration officials. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs repeatedly declined to answer questions about Issa's inquiries, though he did offer a comment on March 16th.

"Look, I've talked to several people in the White House; I've talked to people that have talked to others in the White House," said Gibbs. "I'm told that whatever conversations have been had are not problematic."

The comment did not sit well with Issa, who accused the White House of "allowing its communications staff to carry out investigative tasks ordinarily conducted by legal professionals in the Counsel's office."

Issa argues that conversations between the administration and Sestak 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. Violation of each provision is punishable by up to one year in jail.

"The Mark McGwire defense -- not wanting to talk about what happened in the past -- is not going to cut it here," Issa wrote in his letter to Holder.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue