David Weigel | June 18, 2008, 6:41pm
I blogged a few weeks back about a convicted criminal, Larry Sinclair, who'd been begging the media to cover his wild allegations about Barack Obama. Today Sinclair trotted into the National Press Club to air the allegations before what can literally be described as an audience of international press, and can more accurately be described as an amused bunch of people taking in a circus act.
It had been a difficult morning for Sinclair. The Politico's Ben Smith published a short feature on Sinclair's 27-year criminal record of fraud and petty crimes; Greta Van Susteren linked the story, and told viewers/readers why she has ignored him. "While the internet is a great communication and educational tool, it is also viral when it comes to smearing people," she wrote, prompting commenters to call her a cover-up artist and an agent of Barack Obama. It got worse when Sinclair's lawyer Montgomery Sibley—whose license is currently suspended in D.C. and Florida—showed up in a kilt and told reporters that his above-average endowment made slacks tight and uncomfortable. The Rev. James David Manning, who gained web celebrity in April for a YouTube'd sermon in which he called Obama a "long-legged mack daddy," sat in the crowd of 50 or so with his family. He didn't take questions.
How did Sinclair hold up? Rather terribly. He started with a lengthy statement that admitted most (not all) of his crimes and dispatched Sibley to run around the room with a microphone. As Seth Colter Walls recounts, most of the questions were legalistic and (somewhat) credulous. Sinclair was asked who funded the event (donors, over the internet), how he made his living (he's on disability), and whether Obama was "well hung" (I'm not going to dignify his answer here). The only new "evidence" he presented was the name of a limo driver and the bar where he claimed to have met Obama (who, in Sinclair's story, used his real name and job title as he rendevouzed with a cruising criminal he'd never met before).
I only got to ask one question: What time of day did Sinclair meet with Obama on November 6th and November 7th? In Sinclair's story, Obama partied with him on the 6th and traveled to his hotel in Gurnee, IL (an hour and change from Hyde Park) on the 7th. Sinclair smiled at the question. "We met in the early evening of November 6th," he said. "As far as a specific time on November 7th, I can not provide that to you." He added, parenthetically: "And I know where this question is coming from."
"You know where this question is coming from?"
"Thank you." Sinclair moved on and Sibley refused to let me ask another question. Why didn't I wait until the end of the press conference and rush up to the accuser? The second Sinclair stopped taking questions, he fled the room and reporters were denied access to anyone but Sibley. I was a little disappointed until I heard the reason. Larry Sinclair was arrested after the press conference and is being held by the Washington, D.C. metropolitan police. He's been charged as a fugitive from justice; one of his warrants can be seen here.
Between coughing fits, Mr Sinclair claimed that he has given details of phone calls between him, the limousine driver and Mr Obama to the Chicago police. He was forced to correct one of the mobile numbers he read out, a typing error in the glossy printed statement we were each handed.
Mr Sinclair offered a hotel receipt that appears to show he was in the Chicago area at the time he claims his bizarre liaison occurred. But he was not able to provide any phone records from 1999.
He named the limousine driver as Paramjit Multani and said that the two had been in contact during the early part of the year but that now Mr Multani and his family have disappeared. This is convenient to say the least. The documents he supplied listed a limo driver as Rashpal Multani instead.
I feel deeply for the newspaper reporter who's assigned to dig into this—every indication is that Sinclair wants to send some people on a goose chase to stretch out his 15 minutes of fame. And is anyone surprised to find that Larry Johnson posted Sinclair's rambling statement in full? What is it about Obama and guys named Larry?