White House Wards Off Questions about Alleged Sestak Job Offer

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

The Obama administration is beginning to further address the allegations that someone in the White House may have potentially offered a job to Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak in an attempt to compel him to drop out of the Pennsylvania Senate primary. But officials maintain that nothing inappropriate occurred and that a special investigation is unnecessary.

"I don't think any questions will be left unanswered on this," White House senior adviser David Axelrod said on CNN Monday evening with respect to the questions surrounding a conversation an unnamed White House official had with Sestak.

Sestak has said that someone from the White House offered him a job in return for dropping his Senate bid. On CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday, he maintained the offer was made, but he refused to give any details about it, such as whom from the White House he spoke with, or what job was offered. Also on "Face the Nation," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said lawyers have reviewed the situation and that "nothing inappropriate happened."

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has been pushing the White House to give more details about the discussion.

"No administration should be allowed to assume what they do and say is legal because they say it's legal," he said Monday on CBSNews.com's Washington Unplugged."

On CNN, Axelrod agreed that if Sestak's assertions were true, "they would constitute a serious breach of the law," but he repeated Gibbs' claims that the conversations between Sestak and the White House official "were perfectly appropriate."

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has rebuffed Issa's request for a special prosecutor to investigate the incident, Politico reports. In a letter sent to Issa on Friday but not publicly released, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich said that the Justice Department could handle the allegations without special counsel -- but he gave no indication the department would do so, according to Politico.

"We assure you that the Department of Justice takes very seriously allegations of criminal conduct by public officials. All such matters are reviewed carefully by career prosecutors and law enforcement agents, and appropriate action, if warranted, is taken," the letter said. "The Department of Justice, however, has a long history of handling investigations of high-level officials professionally and independently, without the need to appoint a special counsel."

Now that Sestak is the Democrats' Senate nominee in Pennsylvania, other Republicans, including Sestak's opponent Pat Toomey, are speaking out about the situation. (link to story from last week on Sestak's win)

"Congressman Sestak should tell the public everything he knows about the job he was offered, and who offered it," Toomey said Monday, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Sestak said Monday he would "absolutely" comply with investigators if his assertions became the subject of an investigation, the Scranton Times-Tribune reports.

Watch Issa on Washington Unplugged below:

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