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Transition Today – Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008

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

President-elect Obama will release an internal report detailing contact between his staff and Governor Rod Blagojevich today at 4:30 PM EST. The report is expected to show that Obama aides, including Rahm Emanuel, had limited contact with Blagojevich's office however there was no wrongdoing.

Mr. Obama is not planning on speaking publicly about the report. Emanuel departs for Africa today for a family vacation.

Also on the schedule:

Vice President-elect Biden will host a meeting with the transition team's top economic advisers, including Larry Summers, Director of the National Economic Council. The meeting is at 10:35 AM EST at the transition office.


NYT, "Obama Is to Report on Blagojevich Contacts": Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois congressman selected by Mr. Obama as his White House chief of staff, had a handful of contacts with the governor's office. At least two other names also are expected to be mentioned in the review, including Michael Strautmanis, a longtime aide to Mr. Obama who once worked for Mr. Blagojevich.

Wash Post, "Obama Report on Blagojevich Contacts Set for Release Tues.": 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.

WSJ, "Report Arrives on Obama-Blagojevich Staff Contacts": Regardless of how clean the Obama camp is, the release of the report isn't likely to be clean. Thursday, former President Bill Clinton released a list of 205,000 donors -- many of them foreign governments -- to his foundation, which he had promised to do as a condition for his wife Sen. Hillary Clinton's nomination as secretary of state. That set off a scramble to tie donors to policy predicaments facing the Obama administration.


Transition office, Obama to use Lincoln Bible: "On January 20th, President-elect Barack Obama will take the oath of office using the same Bible upon which President Lincoln was sworn in at his first inauguration. The Bible is currently part of the collections of the Library of Congress. President-elect Obama will be the first President sworn in using the Lincoln Bible since its initial use in 1861."

New York Times, "Amtrak Beefs Up Inauguration Day Service": Amtrak is adding extra trains to go in and out of Washington on Inauguration Day. The trains will be added on the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston, making it easier for people who do not have hotel reservations or a place to stay to get to Washington, see Barack Obama be sworn in, and go home that same day.

NYT, "Clinton Moves to Widen Role of State Dept.": Even before taking office, Hillary Rodham Clinton is seeking to build a more powerful State Department, with a bigger budget, high-profile special envoys to trouble spots and an expanded role in dealing with global economic issues at a time of crisis. Mrs. Clinton is recruiting Jacob J. Lew, the budget director under President Bill Clinton, as one of two deputies, according to people close to the Obama transition team. Mr. Lew's focus, they said, will be on increasing the share of financing that goes to the diplomatic corps. He and James B. Steinberg, a deputy national security adviser in the Clinton administration, are to be Mrs. Clinton's chief lieutenants.

AP, "Steinberg to be named deputy secretary of state": A former top aide to ex-President Bill Clinton will be tapped as Hillary Rodham Clinton's No. 2 at the State Department this week, The Associated Press has learned. James Steinberg, a deputy national security adviser in the Clinton administration, will be nominated for deputy secretary of state as early as Tuesday, people familiar with President-elect Barack Obama's transition team said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the appointment is not yet public.


AP, " Franken holds lead over Coleman, but it's not over": Democrat Al Franken clung to a narrow lead over Republican incumbent Norm Coleman. The final count, however, showed no sign of being settled soon. On Tuesday, the board was scheduled to award votes from a remaining group of about 5,000 challenges that had been withdrawn by both campaigns. Based on a draft report released late Monday by the secretary of state's office, Franken will have earned 48 more votes than Coleman once those votes are allotted.


NYT, "Kennedy Declines to Make Financial Disclosure": Ms. Kennedy is declining to provide a variety of basic data, including companies she has a stake in and whether she has ever been charged with a crime. Ms. Kennedy declined on Monday to reply to those and other questions posed by The New York Times about any potential ethical, legal and financial entanglements. Through a spokesman, she said she would not disclose that kind of information unless and until she becomes a senator.

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