Obama Report on Blagojevich Contacts Set for Release Tues.
By Michael D. Shear
President-elect Barack Obama on Tuesday will release a internal report detailing his staff's contacts with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who stands accused of trying to sell Obama's U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder.
Democratic sources said the report will show that incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel contacted members of Blagojevich's staff about the Senate appointment, leading the Illinois governor to believe that Emanuel was pushing Obama friend Valerie Jarrett for the appointment.
The report is unlikely to produce any surprises when it is formally released by the transition office Tuesday morning. Obama remains on vacation in Hawaii this week, and aides said he is unlikely to offer any comment from the islands on the report.
Obama has already said that the report -- which has been completed for a week but was withheld at the request of the U.S. attorney investigating the governor -- concludes there were no "inappropriate" contacts between his staff and the governor's people.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has said there was no evidence that Obama had done anything wrong in the case, but the federal complaint Fitzgerald filed several weeks ago did not provide details about conversations between Blagojevich's staff and Obama's advisers.
A source close to the Obama transition said the review to be released Tuesday was written by advisers who did not have access to the taped recordings made by Fitzgerald during the investigation.
Obama had promised more than a week ago to reveal in detail the conversations that his staff had with the Illinois governor. But he later held off at Fitzgerald's request.
"It's been ready for release for a week," transition spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said. "We've held off at the request of the U.S. Attorney's office and that continues to be the case, though we expect to be able to release the report shortly."
In the federal complaint against Blagojevich, the governor and his former chief of staff, John Harris, are reported to have had hours of conversations about the potential to profit from the power to appoint Obama's replacement.
Blagojevich is quoted as having been frustrated by the response from unidentified Obama staff, saying that they were not "willing to give me anything except appreciation. (Expletive) them."
But the complaint does not provide any detail about what prompted that assessment from Blagojevich. That quickly led to questions for Obama's transition office about who had discussed the appointment with the Illinois governor and when.
Obama's report is an attempt by the president-elect to put those questions to rest. But they may not be fully answered until Fitzgerald releases transcripts of all of the conversations that his office recorded.
Posted at 6:53 PM ET on Dec 22, 2008
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