Of course they should.
Menin makes a good case for release of all documents.
Of course they should.
Of course they should.
Menin makes a good case for release of all documents.
Blogs and news sites are giddy with the news that Obama cleared his incoming Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, of any wrongdoing secondary to Emanuel’s contacts with Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who said he did no wrong in his contacts with Team Obama or with anyone else for that matter.
So everybody is in the clear?
On December 9, Pres-elect Obama said this about the Blagojevich matter:
“I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.”
Today, George Stephanopoulos reports that he has been briefed on the report and that some contacts occured, writing on his blog:
The sources add that the report will show Emanuel also had four phone calls with Blagojevich Chief of Staff John Harris. During those conversations, the Senate seat was discussed. The pros and cons of various candidates were reviewed, and the sources say that Emanuel repeatedly reminded Harris that Blagojevich should focus on the message the pick would send about the governor and his administration.
Sources also confirm that Emanuel made the case for picking Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett during at least one of the conversations. In the course of that conversation, Harris asked if in return for picking Jarrett, “all we get is appreciation, right?” “Right,” Emanuel responded.
Reader time – Was Obama being candid in the first statement?
He did have contact with Blago’s office through Rahm Emanuel and they pushed for Valerie Jarrett to become Senator. Ms. Jarrett said later she wasn’t interested. Are we to assume that she was never interested but that Obama and Emanuel were pushing for her anyway? Or did her lack of interest develop as the result of knowledge of the investigation and/or the demands for a deal from Blago?
And what does contact mean?
The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had more than one conversation with Blago about the soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat. According to the article, Emanuel delivered a list a candidates Obama would accept.
Did Emanuel do this without Obama’s direction? Does anyone reading here believe Obama did not construct this list and direct Emanuel to talk to Blago? If Emanuel did this on his own, Obama should fire him. If Obama directed the contacts, then his words about not being in contact with Blago seem hollow and legalistic.
Ed Rendell is an outspoken PA Governor who is not shy about his views. He follows his pattern in a report this morning from Politico.com.
“They have never been in an executive position before,” Rendell said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “The rule of thumb is whatever you did, say it and get it over with and make it a one-day story as opposed to a three-day story. Politicians are always misjudging the intelligence of the American people.”
Known for his blunt critiques of fellow Democrats, Rendell did not hold back during the interview.
The public, said Rendell, understands Obama and his aides would have an interest in who fills the Senate seat, and some contact with the governor’s office — and that Obama should have said as much at the outset.
“Did Rahm Emanuel who took Rod Blagojevich’s seat in Congress have contact with Rod Blagojevich? Of course he did,” Rendell said. “They may have thought he was the craziest S.O.B. in the world. But you still have to have contact with him.”
I wonder if there is any room under that bus for Ed. At least he is saying what many are thinking. I have written here from day one that it seems strange that Obama would not talk to Blagojevich about the Senate seat. No harm in that. So why imply that such talks would be out of bounds?
UPDATE: Emanuel won’t go to work due to death threats. Who would be doing that? Blago’s cronies? I really don’t get that though. Emanuel doesn’t have the secret service nearby? I don’t care if you are an Obama partisan or not, this has to look troubling. We haven’t even had a real crisis yet and Obama’s chief of staff is hiding from the media and won’t go to the office.
UPDATE 2: Blago’s Chief of Staff John Harris resigned today.
UPDATE 3: IL AG Lisa Madigan wants to move Blago from the Governor’s mansion.
Quattro – Jesse Jackson Jr., is defending himself against charges he got the fundraising thing going early.
More confirmation Obama had input via Emanuel.
In an interview, Schakowsky said she spoke to Emanuel on Thursday and he seemed unfazed by the controversy.
Schakowsky also spoke of a conversation she had with Emanuel shortly after he was named chief of staff. She said she called Emanuel “to get some intelligence” on whether Obama might approve of her selection as senator.
“He indicated that the president-elect would be fine with certain people and I was one of them,” Schakowsky said, adding that he did not share the identities of others on the list.
Schakowsky said it was natural for Obama to take an interest in the selection process for his Senate seat. “It makes perfect sense for the president-elect or his people to have some interaction about filling the seat he was vacating,” she said.
Lots of focus today on the two-hour conference call between Blago’s Illinois team and some unnamed advisors and consultants in Washington DC. Although I do not understand Obama’s legalistic denials of contact with Blago, it appears that he did not authorize any deals over the Senate seat. His first choice of for the White House, Rahm Emanuel may have been involved and has not addressed the claims that he might be one of the advisors in touch with Blago.
In the criminal complaint, Blagojevich becomes especially angry at one point when it becomes clear that Obama would not deal at this time. Here is the excerpt from pages 63-64:
ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to “suck it up” for two years and do nothing and give this “motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will put “[Senate Candidate 4]” in the Senate “before I just give fucking [Senate Candidate 1] a fucking Senate seat and I don’t get anything.” (Senate Candidate 4 is a Deputy Governor of the State of Illinois).
Obama supporters will see in this a commendable unwillingness to deal. Those who are suspicious of Obama may see something else. Blago is informed he must “‘suck it up’ for two years and do nothing.” Why is the sucking for only two years? Obviously angry, Blago anticipated something more from Obama. What in their relationship would give Blago any idea that he could make a quid pro quo with Obama?
Blago’s advisors do not the like the two year span. They say on pages 64-65,
One of ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s advisors said he likes the idea, it sounds like a good idea, but advised ROD BLAGOJEVICH to be leery of promises for something two years from now. ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife said they would take the job now. Thereafter, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and others on the phone call discussed various ways ROD BLAGOJEVICH can “monetize” the relationships he is making as Governor to make money after ROD BLAGOJEVICH is no longer Governor. Later on November 10, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Advisor A discussed the open Senate seat. Among other things, ROD BLAGOJEVICH raised the issue of whether the President-elect could help get ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife on “paid corporate boards right now.” Advisor A responded that he “think[s] they could” and that a “President-elect. . . can do almost anything he sets his mind to.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will appoint “[Senate Candidate 1] . . . but if they feel like they can do this and not fucking give me anything . . . then I’ll fucking go [Senate Candidate 5].” (Senate Candidate 5 is publicly reported to be interested in the open Senate seat). ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that if his wife could get on some corporate boards and “picks up another 150 grand a year or whatever” it would help ROD BLAGOJEVICH get through the next several years as Governor.
Blago’s advisors and someone on the call begin talking about how something positive could happen for Blago within the two year period. Blago says essentially if I get something monetary now then Valerie Jarrett (Candidate #1) will be appointed; if not then I will send up Jesse Jackson, Jr. (#5).
FoxNews looked at this earlier tonight with special attention to the timing of Valerie Jarrett’s interest then lack of interest.
PS – Mr. Emanuel, how hard is it to just say no?
Is this Emanuel?
On November 13, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with JOHN HARRIS. ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he wanted to be able to call “[President-elect Advisor]” and tell President-elect Advisor that “this has nothing to do with anything else we’re working on but the Governor wants to put together a 501(c)(4)” and “can you guys help him. . . raise 10, 15 million.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he wanted “[President-elect Advisor] to get the word today,” and that when “he asks me for the Fifth CD thing I want it to be in his head.” (The reference to the “Fifth CD thing” is believed to relate to a seat in the United States House of Representatives from Illinois’ Fifth Congressional District. Prior intercepted phone conversations indicate that ROD BLAGOJEVICH and others were determining whether ROD BLAGOJEVICH has the power to appoint an interim replacement until a special election for the seat can be held.).
UPDATE: 12/12/08 – Looks like Emanuel is indeed the focus. As this report points out, one would expect conversations and they are not illegal. The issue will be for the Obama administration what Emanuel said on those taped calls.
I called KHQA to ask why the station twice reported a meeting between Governor Rod Blagojevich and President-elect Barack Obama.
I asked to speak to the public relations staff but was not allowed to do so. The receptionist wanted to know the reason for my call which I explained. Then she said I could read the statement on their website. When I asked why the station twice reported a meeting about which they had no knowledge, she told me that the station had made a statement. After taking my number, she hung up.
I suspect the station is getting many calls which may explain in part the abrupt approach. However, their “clarification” does not clarify why the station made the report in the first place – twice. Human error would be a fine answer, but as for now, their conduct invites speculation.
Why would a news organization not be more transparent about a story of national significance – or any story – about which they now say they may have been incorrect? I have no idea if this is relevant but the owner of KHQA is the Barrington Group which is owned and controlled by the Pilot Group. This finance group is run by Rob Pittman of MTV/AOL fame. Pittman is a New Yorker who supported Obama in the primaries and according to the New York Post, hosted a fundraiser for him along with Huffington Post co-founder, Ken Lerer.
Obama mined for more gold at the Central Park West home of Huffington Post co-founder Ken Lerer, who co-hosted a cash bash with former AOL honcho Bob Pittman.
HuffPo has been known to be a little partial to Mr. Obama. Who knows if any of this is related, but as I said, the curious conduct of the station opens the door to speculation.
It is starting to look like Jesse Jackson, Jr. is the one labeled Senate Candidate 5 in the Blago complaint. In reading the complaint (really just stunning stuff), I came to the tentative opinion that Jesse Jackson, Jr., was the guy. Jackson had met with Blago for “productive” conversations and the time frame for meetings with Jackson seemed to fit the Blago phone calls.
Looking around, it appears others are coming to the same opinion. Here is a Chicago paper putting the pieces together.
Meeting with Candidate 5
On Thursday, the governor was taped by investigators saying that he was going to meet with Candidate 5 in the next few days, according to the affidavit. Jackson met with Blagojevich Monday at the Thompson Center in Chicago for about 90 minutes to discuss the Senate seat. In a statement, Jackson said he “shared with the governor my hopes and unique qualifications for succeeding President-elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate.”
Also on Thursday, Blagojevich said in a taped phone call that he was considering appointing Candidate 5 because he believed the candidate would raise money for the governor or give him money “up front,” according to the affidavit.
On Oct. 31, Blagojevich reportedly said on another recorded call that he had been approached by an associate of Candidate 5. Blagojevich said, “We were approached ‘pay to play.’ That, you know, he’d raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (Senate Candidate 5) a senator.”
But Blagojevich apparently wanted proof of the candidate’s ability to raise money for him sooner rather than later, saying he had “a prior bad experience with Senate Candidate 5 not keeping his word,” the affidavit says.
“Some of this stuff’s gotta start happening now — right now — and we gotta see it,” Blagojevich allegedly said.
On Friday, the affidavit states, a story in the Chicago Tribune reported that authorities had been taping Blagojevich. This caused the governor to tell an associate to backtrack and “undo your — thing” with the individual he believed was close to Candidate 5, the affidavit states.
For his part, Jackson is denying any wrongdoing:
Federal prosecutors say someone approached Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Candidate 5’s behalf and offered to trade campaign contributions for an appointment to the Senate.
Jackson (D-2nd), in a pair of written statements addressing what he described as “rumors” that he is referenced in the government’s complaint, declined to address the question but protested his innocence and said he would cooperate “fully and completely” with federal investigators as they continue to examine the governor’s alleged efforts to auction off the state’s vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder.
“Since the federal investigation of the governor is ongoing, it would be inappropriate for me to comment,” Jackson said. “However, I reject and denounce pay-to-play politics and have no involvement whatsoever in any wrongdoing.”
Jackson, Jr., was lobbying for the Senate seat before the election was over. Here is an interesting point:
Illinois political insiders, who declined to discuss the subject on the record for fear of appearing presumptuous before the results of the presidential race are known, say Obama would have a major hand in the decision.