Author Ed Klein says Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign should be making an issue out of a statement that Jeremiah Wright, President Barack Obama’s incendiary former pastor, made to him: That a close friend of Obama tried bribing him to stay quiet during the 2008 presidential election.
In a Monday interview with The Daily Caller about “The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House,” Klein said of the revelation made in his book: “I do think his campaign needs to make an issue of it and demand that the media get to the bottom of this.”
Many traditional news outlets have ignored Klein’s book and its explosive allegation that a $150,000 bribe was offered to Wright, who is infamous for making statements like “God damn America” during sermons. Klein said Wright told him about a bribe offer from Obama buddy Eric Whitaker during a three-hour, on-the-record interview for the book.
“I think it’s because they don’t want to embarrass the president,” Klein said of those in the media not covering the allegation. “I think they’re protecting the president. I mean, I think it’s as simple as that.”
Klein told TheDC that he was “completely surprised and shocked” when Wright dropped the bombshell about being offered money to stay quiet while Obama sought the presidency.
“I mean, here is the best friend of the president,” Klein said of Whitaker, “the vice president of the University of Chicago Medical Center, the man who plays basketball with Obama, who goes golfing with Obama, whose family vacations with the Obamas, a man who was frequently in the Obama campaign plane during the 2008 campaign traveling with the candidate, basically his closest buddy.”
Klein said Wright told him that Whitaker sent an “email to a member of the church conveying a proposal — whatever you want to call it — a bribe, a proposal, an offer of money, for the Rev. Wright to remain silent.”
The author said there are plenty of questions for the media to explore.
“Was this done with or without the candidate — Obama’s — approval and knowledge? Where did the money come from? Was it campaign funds? $150,000 is not chump change.”
On Friday, Whitaker responded to Klein’s book, telling Jake Tapper of ABC News, “I have received your message asking whether I’d offered any sort of a bribe during the 2008 campaign. The answer is no. Thank you for giving me the chance to respond.”
Asked to respond to Whitaker’s denial, Klein was skeptical. “Did he offer him money? Did he send the email? He didn’t deny either of those things.”
“It’s not a clear-cut denial of the story,” Klein added.
Klein said Wright offered to show him the email offering him the money, though he never got his hands on it. He hasn’t been able to reach Wright since their interview. “I never heard back from him, and I’ve never spoken to him since.”
“He said it was in a cardboard box along with a lot of other documents that he was going to use after the 2012 presidential election to write his autobiography,” Klein said of the email.
The author said it’s not hard to imagine that a crime could have been committed in the process.
“If John Edwards can be prosecuted for using funds for allegedly bribing his mistress to remain silent, I suppose the same thing could apply to Barack Obama,” Klein said. “However, we don’t know that these were campaign funds or where that money came from.”
Asked how he was able to secure an interview with Wright — who does not give interviews regularly — Klein said that during the process of researching his book, he became friends with several people who urged him to speak with Wright and offered to help set it up.
Klein said those friends called Wright on his behalf. The writer also eventually met Wright’s daughter, Jeri, for coffee before Wright finally accepted his request.
“I was hesitant, as I wrote in the book, because of the things Jeremiah Wright had said,” Klein recalled to TheDC. “I wasn’t really eager to sit down with this guy, but they said that he had a story to tell that I needed to hear in order to make the book complete.”