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Transition Today – Monday, Dec. 22, 2008

A roundup of news, schedules, and key stories from CBS News, written by Maria Gavrilovic:

President-elect Obama kicked off his 12 day Hawaiian holiday this weekend with family and friends. Senior White House Advisor, Valerie Jarrett, is among the small contingent of Chicago friends who accompanied the Obamas on their trip.

Although he spent most of Sunday on the golf course, aides say Mr. Obama will continue to work on transition matters from Hawaii.

Aides are expected to release a document by Tuesday afternoon detailing Obama staff contacts with Gov. Rod Blagojevich and/or his administration.


Star Bulletin, "Barack Obama wows 'em in Waimanalo": President-elect Barack Obama spent the first full day of his winter vacation at the gym, the golf course and his rental house on Kailua Bay. At Olomana Golf Links in Waimanalo yesterday, Obama wished several residents "Merry Christmas" and added, "Mele Kalikimaka," the Hawaiian Christmas greeting.

AP, "Obama increases jobs goal to 3 million": President-elect Barack Obama has increased his employment goal with the nation's economic outlook worsening, seeking to create or save 3 million jobs in the next two years instead of the 2.5 million he proposed last month. Obama set the more ambitious target earlier this week after meeting with top economic advisers who cautioned that the nation's unemployment rate could exceed 9 percent given the current pace of job losses, Obama transition officials said Saturday.

AP, "Obama's Blagojevich report to explain staff's role": President-elect Barack Obama's review of his staff's contacts with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich did not include records of conversations taped by federal prosecutors, a Democratic official said. Obama will release his report by Tuesday explaining his staff's discussions with Blagojevich and the governor's aides about appointing Obama's Senate successor, according to a Democratic official who requested anonymity because the report is not yet public.

Washington Post: "Report on Blagojevich Ties to Be Out Soon": Release of the report, which was finished last week, was held up at the request of the U.S. attorney investigating Blagojevich (D). But two Democratic sources said the Obama team expects to make it public today or tomorrow. ABC News's George Stephanopoulos said on his Sunday talk show, "This Week," that Emanuel spoke once with Blagojevich and four times with the governor's chief of staff, John Harris, who resigned this month. Citing Democratic sources, Stephanopoulos said the report will clear Emanuel of saying or doing anything wrong.
Politico: "Obama to absolve Emanuel in Gov. Scandal": President-elect Barack Obama's aides plan to release a report this week absolving incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel of any impropriety in his contacts with the disgraced Illinois governor's office, Democratic sources tell Politico.


Politico, "Cheney and Biden trade shots," Cheney, in an interview with Chris Wallace that aired on "Fox News Sunday," was shown a clip of Biden from the October vice presidential debate accusing him of being the most dangerous vice president in history and reminded that the incoming vice president believes that that especially applies to his view of the office. Cheney hit back hard. "He also said that the — all the powers and responsibilities of the executive branch are laid out in Article I of the Constitution," the vice-president said of Biden. "Well, they're not. Article I of the Constitution is the one on the legislative branch. Joe's been chairman of the Judiciary Committee, a member of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate for 36 years, teaches constitutional law back in Delaware, and can't keep straight which article of the Constitution provides for the legislature and which provides for the executive so I think I'd write that off as campaign rhetoric. I don't take it seriously and if he wants to diminish the office of the vice president, that's obviously his call."

In his own Sunday morning interview, on ABC's "This Week," Biden eased back some on his campaign red meat against Cheney but, with some prompting, offered shots of his own Reminded of his "dangerous" quote, Biden initially sought to laugh it off, saying with a smile and chuckle: "I still don't agree with the vice president." But after host George Stephanopoulos pressed Biden, the vice president-elect went further, saying Cheney "has been not healthy for our foreign policy, not healthy for our national security, and it has not been consistent with our Constitution, in my view." "His notion of a unitary executive, meaning that, in time of war, essentially all power, you know, goes to the executive, I think is dead wrong. I think it was mistaken," Biden added.


Washington Post, "Secret Tapes Helped Build Graft Cases In Illinois," Pamela Meyer Davis had been trying to win approval from a state health planning board for an expansion of Edward Hospital, the facility she runs in a Chicago suburb, but she realized that the only way to prevail was to retain a politically connected construction company and a specific investment house. Instead of succumbing to those demands, she went to the FBI and U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald in late 2003 and agreed to secretly record conversations about the project.

Chicago Tribune: "Fundraiser seeks immunity in Blagojevich probe," A key figure in Gov. Rod Blagojevich's alleged scheme to sell a U.S. Senate seat has sought immunity from federal authorities in return for his cooperation in their ongoing probe, the Tribune has learned. Raghuveer P. Nayak, an Oak Brook businessman and political fundraiser, is the unnamed "Individual D" who prosecutors say was being squeezed by the governor for campaign cash in return for appointing U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. to the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, sources said.

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