Obama report on Blago contacts has some glaring holes

I am sure you will join me in congratulating the Obama camp for absolving itself of any wrongdoing in the Blagobust matter. Yesterday at 4:30 pm, they dumped their written report on staff contacts between the transition team and Blagojevich's office with regard to the open Illinois senate seat and, to absolutely no one's surprise, found nothing wrong:

The 5-page memorandum, which was released to reporters by e-mail two days before Christmas, says that the contact between the scandal-plagued governor and the president-elect's staff was proper and limited in scope.

"The accounts contain no indication of inappropriate discussions with the Governor or anyone from his office about a 'deal' or a quid pro quo arrangement in which he would receive a personal benefit in return for any specific appointment to fill the vacancy," the report, authored by White House Counsel-designate Gregory Craig, said.

The report also revealed for the first time that officials with the U.S. Attorney's office investigating the Blagojevich case interviewed Obama on Dec. 18. Emanuel was interviewed on Dec. 20 and Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett was interviewed on Dec. 19.

The report did not disclose what information any of them provided to the prosecutors.

In short, nothing to see, move along...


The Report released Tuesday by the Barack Obama camp discloses, not only direct contacts between the Obama staff and Governor Blagojevich and his staff, but two other specific indirect contacts. It does not, however, disclose the only two contacts mentioned in the U.S. Attorney’s complaint and affidavit by which Blagojevich directed intermediaries to convey his corrupt bargain to the Obama camp.

Perhaps they occurred; perhaps they didn't. Obama's Report never says.

Volokh Conspiracy's Jim Lindgren then details the two conversations taped by the feds - both on November 12 - where an SEIU official discussed the senate seat with Blagojevich as an "emissary" from Valerie Jarrett. It was this meeting where Blago pitched his idea of heading up a 501 (c) (4) organization in exchange for naming Jarrett. In a second conversation that day with "Advisor B," Blago told him that he asked the SEIU official to go back to Jarrett and pitch the not for profit organization idea to her (and presumably Obama's team).

The significance here is not that anything illegal transpired but that it points to the idea that someone not connected with Obama's staff could have been in closer contact with Blagojevich and his people than anyone on the president elect's team. This would make the report truthful but incomplete. After all, the report only deals with contacts between Blago and Obama and his people and not third parties who may have been acting in their name.

Lindgren sums up the report and some unanswered questions:

Obama’s Report does not purport to be a complete list of all the contacts between his staff and emissaries for Blagojevich, only of direct contacts between the two staffs, plus two specifically disclosed indirect contacts. The Report does not indicate one way or the other whether the two contacts mentioned in the government’s affidavit by which Blagojevich intended to have his desire for a lucrative job conveyed to the Obama camp ever took place. It mentions the contacts made by people who had not (at the time of the conversations) been directed to shake down Obama, but fails to mention the two contacts (if they occurred) by people who had (according to the Government’s affidavit) been recently directed to contact Obama staffers to discuss simultaneously the Senate seat and Blagojevich’s desire for a job.

Assuming that Obama is not operating under any restrictions from Patrick Fitzgerald, when Obama returns to work in a week or so, it will be up to the press to find out from him whether the two corrupt contacts alleged in the affidavit to have been ordered by Blagojevich ever occurred and whether Obama learned before December that Blagojevich was seeking a job.

It is not likely that the press will pursue this matter. By the time Obama makes himself available to the press, it will be old news and the Blago scandal will already be disappearing in the rear view mirror.

I have a piece on my own blog about the hypocrisy of the left exonerating Obama based only on his say so while they swallowed al-Qaeda propaganda about "atrocities" (including Haditha) and automatically rejecting explanations by their own government.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky