Sestak: Clinton offered 'presidential board,' maybe intelligence or defense

Sestak: Clinton offered 'presidential board,' maybe intelligence or defense

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) confirmed on the steps of the Capitol on Friday that former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonDemocratic governors fizzle in presidential race Israel should resist Trump's efforts to politicize support Poll shows Biden, Warren tied with Trump in Arizona MORE did call him last summer about a "presidential board" appointment if he didn't jump into the Senate Democratic primary versus new Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.).

Sestak told reporters that had not previously brought up Clinton's involvement when alleging that he was offered a job by the White House because he "honestly didn't feel that it was right" to bring the former president into it.

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"President Clinton had called me last summer" at the urging of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Sestak said. "I just didn't feel it was right for me to talk about that conversation."

"During the conversation he talked about how tough the primary might be if I got in," Sestak said, adding that Clinton had told the retired vice admiral that his military background could be of use.

"I almost interrupted the president and said I am going to decide to get in this or not depending only on what's good for Pennsylvania working famlies, not on an offer," the congressman said, later gesturing toward the Senate and declaring, "I'm hoping to go right over there and work very well with people."

The White House issued a memo earlier Friday that said "at no time was Congressman Sestak offered, nor did he seek, the position of Secretary of the Navy," but said "Clinton ... agreed to raise with Congressman Sestak options of service on a Presidential or other Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board."

"We have concluded that allegations of improper conduct rest on factual errors and lack a basis in the law," said the memo by White House Counsel Robert F. Bauer.

Sestak said he couldn't remember the exact offer, but "at the time I heard the words presidential board ... it was about either intelligence or defense."

Sestak said Clinton said, "Joe, I knew you were going to say that" when he turned down the offer, which was 30 to 60 seconds of the conversation. The former president next called when congratulating him on his primary victory, Sestak said.

The congressman said he was "very conscious that the Democratic leadership did not want me in the race," but said "nothing wrong was done" when pressed by reporters.



"I understand Washington, D.C., is often about political deals," Sestak said. "I didn't feel bad or good or indifferent. I said no and moved on."


Sestak told reporters that he did not think a special prosecutor should probe the incident, and brushed off calls from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) for an FBI investigation.

Issa, Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee on Friday sent a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller urging that the bureau open a formal probe into the matter.

"Assurances by the Obama White House that no laws were broken are like the Nixon White House promising it did nothing illegal in connection with Watergate," the letter states. "Clearly, an independent investigation is necessary to determine once and for all what really happened."

The Republicans behind the letter suggested that coordination between involved parties before the White House report was released could also constitute a crime.

"We are equally concerned about steps taken by the White House leading up to the issuance of today's report, including a meeting between former President Clinton and President Obama and reports that Rep. Sestak's brother (and campaign manager) was consulted on the drafting of the White House report. The apparent collusion between parties involved may constitute obstruction of justice."