On Thursday's 11AM EST hour on MSNBC, anchor Tamron Hall asked Ryan Grim of the left-wing Huffington Post about recent scandals involving the Obama White House tampering with Democratic primaries: "Darrell Issa of California...he wants the FBI involved in this....Any legs here, or is this, again, a situation that may be politicized by the other side?" [Audio available here]
Grim dismissed the idea that there was any need for an investigation: "I mean, this isn't criminal activity. This really is politics as usual." He then lamented: "...the problem for the administration is that, you know, they ran against politics as usual....they were going to move beyond all of this."
Later, Grim described the real "crime" in the Obama administration pressuring candidates like Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania and Andrew Romanoff in Colorado to end their respective primary challenges to incumbent Democratic senators: "...the real problem is that the administration didn't – wasn't willing to allow the Democratic base to choose the candidates....having these primary candidates actually pushes the senator in a more progressive direction....if there's any crime here, it's a political one, in that the administration was holding back a progressive agenda by not allowing these primaries to go forward."
Here is a full transcript of the segment:
TAMRON HALL: And the White House is explaining and defending reports they approached a Democratic Senate candidate in Colorado to discuss some potential jobs with the Obama administration. Now, the administration is denying there was ever a formal job offer to this man, Andrew Romanoff. Romanoff had announced that he would challenge the White House-backed candidate, Senator Michael Bennett, in the Democratic primary. Today the White House is in what some are calling damage control mode, especially given the recent controversy regarding Congressman Joe Sestak. Ryan Grim covers Congress for the Huffington Post, he's with us now. Ryan, thanks for joining us. So give us the lowdown here. What is Romanoff saying? What is the White House saying?
RYAN GRIM: They're saying basically the same thing, that Romanoff talked to Rahm Emanuel's deputy, Jim Massena, and Massena offered him, or said that there were a few job possibilities in the administration if he didn't continue to try to primary Bennett out in Colorado. Romanoff said that he declined the offer and he decided to continue running for Senate. So the allegations being made are that they were trying to influence the Senate election, which clearly they were.
HALL: Well, regarding the Sestak issue, you've got Darrell Issa of California saying – Congressman Issa saying that, listen, he wants the FBI involved in this with this Romanoff thing. Any legs here, or is this, again, a situation that may be politicized by the other side?
GRIM: Right. I mean, this isn't criminal activity.
GRIM: This really is politics as usual. But the problem for the administration is that, you know, they ran against politics as usual. They ran as this post-partisan, you know, post-political savior of the political system. That they were going to move beyond all of this. And this was destiny. When you run – when you run that type of campaign and then pick Rahm Emanuel as your chief of staff, you're going to have this contradiction bubble up.
HALL: And I guess also people are noting, Ryan, that there was an e-mail even that Romanoff had of at least the three job offers that may have been put on the table.
GRIM: Right. And here's the thing. I mean, all of these different things are jobs. Being a Senator is a job. Working in the administration is a job. What Massena was saying, was 'look, instead of going for the Senate job, why don't you think about taking one of these Senate jobs.' Now, he wasn't saying 'you're guaranteed to get these administration jobs,' but it is hard to think about a situation where he drops out of the Senate race and then doesn't get one of the administration jobs. But the real problem is that the administration didn't – wasn't willing to allow the Democratic base to choose the candidates and instead wanted to have its own candidate. What we've seen in these primaries, both – you know, with Lincoln, with Specter and Sestak, and out in Colorado, is having these primary candidates actually pushes the senator in a more progressive direction. We got tough Wall Street reform from Lincoln because she got a primary challenge. And you have Bennett backing the public option out in Colorado because he got a primary challenge. So, you know, if there's any crime here, it's a political one, in that the administration was holding back a progressive agenda by not allowing these primaries to go forward.
HALL: Interesting developments.
GRIM: Or they went forward anyway.
HALL: Yeah, absolutely. Alright, Ryan, thank you very much. Great having you on. Thank you.
GRIM: Thank you.