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A Closer Look At Emanuel's Contacts With Blago's Office

(AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Now that the Obama camp has released its report on contacts between the transition team and the office of embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, it's worth taking a closer look at the section on Obama's incoming chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who appears to have had the greatest contact with Blagojevich's office.

While incoming White House counsel Greg Craig's report found that Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod and Eric Whitaker had no significant direct contact with the governor's office, it says Emanuel had "one or two telephone calls with Governor Blagojevich" between November 6th and November 8th. In addition, Emanuel "had about four telephone conversations with John Harris, Chief of Staff to the Governor, on the subject of the Senate seat."

The conversations with Blagojevich, the report says, centered on who might take Emanuel's seat in the House of Representatives, but also touched on Obama's Senate seat "and the merits of various people whom the Governor might consider."

"In those early conversations with the Governor, Mr. Emanuel recommended Valarie Jarrett because he knew she was interested in the seat," it continues. "He did so before learning -- in further conversations with the President-Elect -- that the President-Elect had ruled out communicating a preference for any one candidate."

Emanuel's contacts with Harris appear to have been more extensive, with four conversations about the Senate seat.

"In these conversations, Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Harris discussed the merits of potential candidates and the strategic benefit that each candidate would bring to the Senate seat," the report says. "After Ms. Jarrett removed herself from consideration, Mr. Emanuel – with the authorization of the President-Elect – gave Mr. Harris the names of four individuals whom the President-Elect considered to be highly qualified: Dan Hynes, Tammy Duckworth, Congresswoman Schakowsky and Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr."

"In later telephone conversations, Mr. Emanuel – also with the President-Elect's approval – presented other names of qualified candidates to Mr. Harris including Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Ms. Cheryle Jackson," the report continues. "Mr. Harris did not make any effort to extract a personal benefit for the Governor in any of these conversations. There was no discussion of a cabinet position, of 501c(4), of a private sector position or of any other personal benefit to the Governor in exchange for the Senate appointment...there was no mention of efforts by the Governor or his staff to extract a personal benefit in return for filling the Senate vacancy."

You can read Craig's entire report by clicking here. On a conference call with reporters upon its release, Craig said Emanuel was the only member of the transition team to have had significant conversations with Blagojevich's office, stating that "my inquiry determined that there was nothing at all inappropriate about those conversations."

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