Jake Tapper at ABCNews raises some significant questions regarding conversations between the Obama campaign and Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Obama’s statement today on the matter: “I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.”
But earlier David Axelrod said Obama had conversations with Blagojevich about possible nominations to Senate (“I know he’s talked to the Governor…”)
Tapper writes the following after this YouTube clip from Axelrod:
(UPDATE: An Obama Transition Team aide says that Axelrod misspoke on Fox News Chicago.)
There are no allegations that President-elect Obama or anyone close to him had anything to do with any of the crimes Gov. Blagojevich is accused of having committed.
In fact, there are indications that Mr. Obama and his team refused to go along with the “pay to play” way Blagojevich is accused of operating, offering only “gratitude” if the governor appointed his friend Valerie Jarrett to take his U.S. Senate seat, much to the governor’s chagrin.
But there remain questions about how Blagojevich knew that Mr. Obama was not willing to give him anything in exchange for the Senate seat — with whom was Blagojevich speaking?
Did that person report the governor to the authorities?
Now Axelrod misspoke? I would like to hear Axelrod himself explain that. Given Axelrod’s prior writings on patronage, the nature of Chicago politics, and the cozy relationship of all these players, questions about ethics and influence peddling are relevant. This just scratches the surface of the questions both Obama and even Joe Biden (long time fundraiser and friend of Biden, Joseph Cari provided Blagovich information secondary to a plea agreement in the Rezko case) might have to confront about people involved in this sting of Blagojevich.
Tapper keeps up the with the questions. The Axelrod misspoke thing is incredible. Furthermore, it seems incredible that the Obama team would not have spoken to Blagojevich about something so important as a Senate seat appointment. As Tapper notes, the issue that is obscured is who on the Obama team told Blago that Obama would not be dealing up plums.
UPDATE: Read this lengthy Huffington Post column with the Blago phone calls in mind. This column goes all the way back to early November, just after the election, with a blow by blow account of what seemed like high-minded deliberations by Blagoshowmethemoneyvich.