Joe Sestak Backs Up White House Account of Conversation With Bill Clinton

Rep. Joe Sestak, Democratic Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, on "Face the Nation," May 23, 2010.
Rep. Joe Sestak, Democratic Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, on "Face the Nation," May 23, 2010. CBS

Rep. Joe Sestak, who said in February that he was offered a high-ranking administration job in exchange for dropping his primary challenge against Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, has released a statement backing the White House version of events.

"Last summer, I received a phone call from President Clinton. During the course of the conversation, he expressed concern over my prospects if I were to enter the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and the value of having me stay in the House of Representatives because of my military background," Sestak said. "He said that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had spoken with him about my being on a Presidential Board while remaining in the House of Representatives. I said no."

"I told President Clinton that my only consideration in getting into the Senate race or not was whether it was the right thing to do for Pennsylvania working families and not any offer," he continued. "The former President said he knew I'd say that, and the conversation moved on to other subjects."

Sestak has previously declined to discuss the matter in detail, saying that doing so gets into politics. He said in February he had been offered a high-ranking administration job by the White House but declined to elaborate.

Did Joe Sestak/Bill Clinton Conversation Break the Law?

The White House today said that White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel reached out to Mr. Clinton to serve as an intermediary in an effort to get Sestak to drop his ultimately-successful challenge to Specter.

White House counsel Robert Bauer maintained that there was nothing inappropriate about its behavior, arguing that "there have been numerous, reported instances in the past when prior Administrations -- both Democratic and Republican, and motivated by the same goals -- discussed alternative paths to service for qualified individuals also considering campaigns for public office."

FULL STORY: Joe Sestak Was Contacted by Bill Clinton About Dropping Primary Bid