Issa: If an investigation into Sestak affair exonerates White House, 'I'll accept that'

The ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee continued Sunday to call for an independent investigation into the administration position offered to Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), and stressed that he would accept the results of that probe even if it exonerated the White House.

But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), appearing on "Fox News Sunday," said he believes that the offering of a position to Sestak -- an offer conveyed by former President Bill Clinton -- to encourage him to not run against Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) in the Senate primary was a crime.

ADVERTISEMENT
"Is it a crime? Yes, it is a crime because they admitted that they offered this position," Issa said. "It's clearly a crime."

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D), appearing opposite Issa, countered that the deal was "not at all" a crime.

"In fact, it's happened in politics for time immemorial," Rendell said, brushing off the suggestion that the White House was using Clinton as a "political fixer."

"Joe Sestak and Bill Clinton were close personal friends," the governor said. "That's why they asked him to do it."

On the steps of the Capitol on Friday, Sestak told reporters that Clinton had called him about a "presidential board" appointment, "about either intelligence or defense," if he didn't jump into the Senate Democratic primary.

Sestak said he quickly turned Clinton down and that part of the conversation only lasted 30-60 seconds. He said he didn't hear from Clinton again until the former president called him to congratulate him on his primary win.

"This is clearly business as usual," Issa said. "Sure, it happens all the time, things like this, but it's usually carefully crafted so it doesn't fall under this quid pro quo."

Issa said other deal-making in question, including trying to get former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff to not run against Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), highlights the need for an investigation into the Sestak affair.


"If it's not a crime, I'll accept that," Issa said.

Rendell said that Issa's calls for a probe into the matter "demonstrated what's wrong with Washington, D.C."

"We've got huge problems in this country. We shouldn't be wasting time investigating something that happens all the time in politics," Rendell said.

"Obama didn't come in and say he was going to change every aspect of what we've done," he said, adding that the president, who campaigned on a platform of change and transparency, "has brought a new ethical standard to Washington" but has kept a necessary level of "hard-knuckle politics."

"You get things done by sometimes using political means," Rendell said. "There are certain things that go on to make things work and this is one of them."

"If it's not a crime -- and I believe it is -- it's business as usual politics of corruption," Issa countered.

Later on Fox, Liz Cheney said the involvement of Clinton is an angle that's "not that reassuring to most Americans" and brought up memories of DNC donors getting to stay in the Lincoln bedroom in the 1990s.

"I think there are some things that clearly rise to the level of independent investigation," Cheney said. "There's a lot here that just smells funny.

"I want to know what he offered. I want to know what the president knew."

More in Energy & Environment

Coal use is soaring-- that's good news

Read more »