CHICAGO–President-elect Barack Obama’s incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel had a deeper involvement in pressing for a U.S. Senate seat appointment than previously reported, the Sun-Times has learned. Emanuel had direct discussions about the seat with Gov. Blagojevich, who is is accused of trying to auction it to the highest bidder.
Emanuel talked with the governor in the days following the Nov. 4 election and pressed early on for the appointment of Valerie Jarrett to the post, sources with knowledge of the conversations told the Sun-Times. There was no indication from sources that Emanuel brokered a deal, however.
A source with the Obama camp strongly denied Emanuel spoke with the governor directly about the seat, saying Emanuel only spoke with Blagojevich once recently to say he was taking the chief of staff post.
But sources with knowledge of the investigation said Blagojevich told his aides about the calls with Emanuel and sometimes gave them directions afterward. Sources said that early on, Emanuel pushed for the appointment of Jarrett to the governor and his staff and asked that it be done by a certain date.
At least some of the conversations between Emanuel and Blagojevich were likely caught on tape, sources said.
After Jarrett took herself out of the running in mid-November, Emanuel submitted a list of suitable names to the governor’s camp that didn’t include her name.
Didn’t you love the quote from the source who said Emanuel never talked to Blago directly about the Senate seat but merely called him to tell him he was accepting the COS position in the Obama admin? Chalk that up as being another lie by someone in the Obama administration, as I highly doubt Emanuel talked to him on the phone 21 different times about accepting the COS spot.
I’ll say again that from the looks of things it doesn’t appear that the Obama team was involved in any illegal activity. But they’ve repeatedly dodged, weaved, amended, updated, denied, what have you on various questions surrounding the contact between their camp and Blago himself as it relates to BO’s former Senate seat. It doesn’t sound to me like they had anything to hide to begin with … so then why have they tried to hide/downplay/deny the contact they’ve had with Blago and his office?
What we’re seeing here is how typical politicians work (in both parties) when it comes to trying to distance themselves from even a hint of a scandal. Obama and his administration are proving once again that when it comes to the “change” they promised, about the only thing changing is the faces we’re seeing in the WH. The politics of how things operate within a presidential administration remains the same as it always has been.