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Wednesday, all seven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee called for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate an alleged White House attempt to influence a Senate Democratic primary race. Representative Joe Sestak, who won the primary, has claimed that the White House offered him a job in exchange for dropping out of the race, in which he was competing with Arlen Specter. The Republican senators, as well as others who have been gunning for a prosecution, say that, if true, the administration may have broken the law.


  • 'Pointless Manufactured Outrage,' Steve Benen calls it at The Washington Monthly. "If I had to guess," writes the liberal, "I'd say these seven conservative senators are well aware of how blisteringly stupid this is." He questions the illegality or scandalousness of a political job offer, if in fact there even was one. He thinks the special prosecutor call springs from "desperate political considerations."
  • Legally, This Makes No Sense "There's no such thing as offering somebody a job in return for them dropping out of a Senate race," writes The New Republic's Jonathan Chait. "The acceptance of a job means dropping out of a Senate race. The concept of offering somebody a job 'in exchange' for them declining to seek another job is like offering to marry a woman in exchange for her not marrying some other guy. It's conceptually nonsensical."
  • 'All That Is Untoward Is Not Illegal,' Mother Jones's David Corn reminds readers. There's plenty of reason for the administration to want to keep a job offer--if there was one--quiet. But he's not so sure the legal analysis the Republicans are putting forward holds water: "before [Republican Representative Darrell] Issa tries to make more of a federal case out of this, perhaps he ought to find independent legal experts who can argue that there might be be a basis for a criminal inquiry."


  • 'Public Outcry' Needed for Inquiry "With Democrats in control of the White House, the House and the Senate, the president and attorney general don't have to do anything," explains The Washington Examiner's Byron York. Bush, in the same situation over the Plame affair, appointed a special prosecutor only after "a media firestorm."
  • What Are They Going For, Here? Hot Air's Allahpundit buys that an offer could have been made, and been illegal, but expects "the defense ... will be that no job was explicitly 'promised.'" He also notes that "since all parties concerned are now aligned politically and probably were smart enough to conduct this negotiation through non-recorded means, I don't know how we'll ever find a smoking gun." He agrees with Byron York, too, that it would take a lot for a special prosecutor to be appointed.


  • This Feels Familiar At Slate, John Dickerson compares the Obama administration's sudden silence on Sestak to the Bush administration's sudden silence when confronted with the Valerie Plame leak. He's not happy: "'trust us' isn't a satisfactory answer," he argues--particularly for a president that campaigned on "transparency."
  • 'Criminally Stupid, Not Criminal,' suggests Michael Grunwald for Time. If the offer was made, he writes, "color me perplexed. White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel isn't known for dumb politics." His ultimate feeling on the matter, though, is that "If political misjudgment were a crime, the entire Beltway would get indicted."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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