On board Air Force One as the president traveled from Louisiana to Chicago Friday afternoon, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs hinted that he may have known for weeks, and perhaps months, that former President Bill Clinton was involved in the White House job offer to Rep. Joe Sestak. When a reporter asked, “When did you personally find out about the Clinton connection?” Gibbs answered:
I have talked to people — I answered questions on this I think in March that nothing inappropriate had happened based on conversations that I’d had with the lawyers. I’d have to go back and look at notes.
If he knew about the Clinton connection, Gibbs certainly never mentioned it to reporters. In fact, he repeatedly told them he had “nothing to add” to his vague contention that whatever conversations occurred in the Sestak matter were “not problematic.”
For example, on May 20, after Sestak defeated Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary, Gibbs was asked several times about the job offer. He said he had nothing to add to his earlier “not problematic” statement. At that point, ABC’s Jake Tapper said to Gibbs, “You never really explained what the conversation was.”
“Then I don’t have anything to add today,” Gibbs snapped. When Tapper persisted, Gibbs repeated, “Jake, I don’t have anything to add to that.”
Gibbs said the same thing on several earlier occasions. But if he in fact knew about the Clinton connection — and it’s not clear from his answer on board Air Force One — then he certainly did have something to add. He just didn’t add it.
Gibbs also told the press Friday that he didn’t know if Obama and Clinton discussed Sestak when they had lunch together at the White House Thursday. “Not that I’m aware of,” said Gibbs, “but I haven’t talked to him about the lunch.”
“Robert, if the Sestak incident wasn’t the purpose for the lunch yesterday, what was the purpose for the lunch?” a reporter asked.
“The President was — President Clinton was in town for the World Cup,” Gibbs said. “He’s heading our efforts to get the World Cup in…so he was in town and at the White House for that.”
Gibbs did tell reporters that he would “go talk to” Obama about the issue. The question is, after he does, will he have anything to add to the story?