Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mrs. O on the hook in IG-Gate?

The Washington Times raises interesting questions:
In the past 10 days, two major developments have occurred. First, Obama administration attorneys continued their efforts to deny Mr. Walpin his day in court. On Dec. 7, they filed reply briefs rearguing their demand that the case be dismissed without even a hearing. Second, Rep. Darrell Issa of California and Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, both Republicans, have openly questioned the honesty of CNCS Chairman Alan D. Solomont. Most explosively of all, dirty deeds may have been employed to hide extensive involvement in the affair by the office of first lady Michelle Obama, whom the White House months earlier had announced would play "a central role in the national service agenda." . . .
Mr. Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, wrote a scathing letter to Mr. Solomont on Dec. 11. Parts of it are worth quoting at length:
"After Mr. Walpin's removal, there was speculation in the press that former Chief of Staff to the First Lady Jackie Norris may have influenced the President's action because she left the White House to become a senior advisor at CNCS around the time of Mr. Walpin's removal. Accordingly, Committee investigators specifically asked if you discussed any Corporation business, including the issues relating to the Corporation's Office of Inspector General, with Ms. Norris. You indicated that you did not. ... The White House announced on June 4, 2009 that Ms. Norris had been appointed Senior Advisor to the Corporation. ... In light of all this, it seems highly implausible that you would meet with Ms. Norris on June 9, 2009 and not discuss the IG," who was fired the very next day. . . . .
Mr. Issa is right to smell a rat, especially since White House aides reportedly cut short congressional staff questioning of Mr. Solomont when the line of questioning began to lead to Mrs. Obama. . . .
Read the rest. The inference of a cover-up is obvious, the evidence of an actual crime is less so. However, remember that the FBI has also been asking questions in the Walpin case. If anybody questioned in this case lies to the FBI, that's a crime. If anybody destroys evidence relevant to a federal investigation, that's another crime. The question is whether Obama administrations will begin snitching on one another, rather than to risk prison sentences.

I've said all along that this story -- not just Walpin/AmeriCorp but the other inspector general stories, including AmTrak and SIGTARP -- is not going to go away. Whether it results in a takedown of any major administration figure, there's enough here to keep making news for months to come.

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