Thursday, June 03, 2010

Getting the Rahm Around

Sara Taylor, a former director of political affairs under President George W. Bush, told RCP that this administration appears to "take a very heavy hand" in primaries, something that was not the case in her time. In 2004, Bush similarly backed Specter when he faced a strong challenge in the Republican primary. But there was very strict criteria that they followed before making an endorsement in contested primaries. Taylor attributed the change to the man at the top of the flow chart -- chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

If there is some basis to believe a crime was committed, even if the evidence may not be definitive or even particularly convincing, the Justice Department would step in for possible further investigation.

Given that the U.S. Code explicitly proscribes "promises [of] any employment, position, [or] appointment . . . to any person as consideration, favor or reward for," among other things, staying out of any political primary, this standard has been amply met. Indeed, Bauer's own conclusions establish that there is a factual basis to believe Sestak may have been offered a position as an illegal quid pro quo. Nonetheless, Bauer clearly does not believe that anyone violated the law. And he may well be right. Perhaps the position was offered unconditionally. Perhaps Sestak misunderstood. Perhaps even if it was a quid pro quo, the offer does not satisfy the statutory requirements for criminal liability. But in the face of doubt on these questions, it is not the counsel's role to make such determinations, particularly when he is opining on the conduct of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, to whom he reports, and a negative conclusion could damage the president for whom he works.

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