Like all good lawyers, White House Counsel Bob Bauer knows how to argue in the alternative. It’s a time-tested legal method of formulating a case theory, especially for a defendant: “You can’t prove that my client was in town that day. But if he was, you cannot prove that he was at that bank. And if he was, you cannot prove that he robbed it. And if he did, it was because he is insane.”
Not a big surprise that most people are suspicious of such arguments.
Here is the Sestak memo that Bauer released, over at The Atlantic. You’ll notice that, after asserting that no paid job offer was ever made, Bauer goes on:
“It has been suggested that discussions of alternatives to the Senate campaign were improperly raised with the Congressman. There was no such impropriety. The Democratic Party leadership had a legitimate interest in averting a divisive primary fight and a similarly legitimate concern about the Congressman vacating his seat in the House. By virtue of his career in public service, including distinguished military service, Congressman Sestak was viewed to be highly qualified to hold a range of advisory positions in which he could, while holding his House seat, have additional responsibilities of considerable potential interest to him and value to the Executive Branch.
There have been numerous, reported instances in the past when prior Administrations — both Democratic and Republican, and motivated by the same goals — discussed alternative paths to service for qualified individuals also considering campaigns for public office. Such discussions are fully consistent with the relevant law and ethical requirements.
To recap: We did not offer him a paid position. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with offering “alternatives” to candidates for office, especially if they’re qualified. Besides, everybody does it.