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Obama Report On Blagojevich Contacts: Rahm Exonerated

The Huffington Post   |  Nico Pitney   |   December 21, 2008 11:26 AM

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UPDATE 12/23 4:30 PM: President-elect Obama's internal report on Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been released. Read the full text here.

UPDATE 12/23: The Obama transition team's internal review of contacts with the office of disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected to be released on Tuesday.

In line with earlier reports below, the New York Times is told by three sources that the review found that Obama's advisers "were not involved in any inappropriate talks about the Senate seat."

In addition to incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, the Times reports that Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett and one of Jarrett's top aides, Michael Strautmanis, will be listed as having had conversations with Blagojevich's office. Obama reportedly wanted Jarrett to be appointed to his former Senate seat, but she ended up accepting a senior White House position.

The Times notes some other key details:

It is unknown whether one of the leading unanswered questions will be resolved: Did Mr. Obama, through his aides, give Mr. Blagojevich a list of preferred candidates for the Senate seat?


At a news conference three days after the election, Mr. Obama said he was staying out of the matter. "There are going to be a lot of good choices out there," he said, "but it is the governor's decision to make, not mine."

The Obama report may not be the final word on the case. The review was compiled from memory by Mr. Obama's aides, rather than from recordings of any phone calls.

* * * * *

From 12/21: Aides to President-elect Barack Obama will release a report this week exonerating incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel of any wrongdoing in the controversy surrounding Gov. Rod Blagojevich, ABC's George Stephanopoulos reports.

According to the report, Emanuel had only one "pro-forma" courtesy call with the embattled Illinois governor. Also, Emanuel is on tape telling Blagojevich's chief of staff that Obama would not offer any favors to induce the governor to choose Obama's favored candidate.

More from Stephanopoulos:

Sources also confirm that Emanuel made the case for picking Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett during at least one of the conversations [with Blagojevich's chief of staff John Harris]. In the course of that conversation, Harris asked if in return for picking Jarrett, "all we get is appreciation, right?" "Right," Emanuel responded.


Bottom line: these sources say that Obama's report, which is expected to be released this week, will confirm what Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and President-Elect Obama have said -- and what Governor Blagojevich clearly believed: that Obama officials were not open to any kind of deal for the Obama Senate seat.

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