For the past few weeks, the media and the right wing have been speculating whether President-elect Obama or chief of staff-designate Rahm Emanuel were hiding their involvement in Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s pay-to-play scandal.
Today, the Obama transition team released a report on its involvement, the release of which was delayed “at the request of” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. “[T]he accounts contain no indication of inappropriate discussions with the Governor or anyone from his office about a ‘deal’ or a quid pro quo arrangement,” White House Counsel nominee Greg Craig notes. Other highlights:
– Barack Obama: Had “no contact or communication” about the Senate seat with Blagojevich or his office and did talk to Axelrod and Emanuel about “other qualified candidates. Obama never heard “that the Governor expected a personal benefit” for the seat.
– Rahm Emanuel: “Had one or two telephone calls with Governor Blagojevich” and “about four telephone conversations with John Harris,” Chief of Staff to Blagojevich about other candidates but never discussed “a cabinet position, 501c(4), a private sector position for the Governor or any other personal benefit for the Governor.”
– David Axelrod: Had “no conversations with anyone outside the President-Elect’s immediate circle” about the seat, and nothing came up in any conversation about any “quid pro quo.”
– Valerie Jarret: Had “no contact or communication with Governor Blagojevich” or anyone in his office about the seat.
Obama reportedly was considering “Dan Hynes, Tammy Duckworth, Congresswoman Schakowsky and Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr” for the seat after Jarrett declined it in November. Read the full report here.