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Much ado about nothing? We shall see *** UPDATE: AP claims Emanuel “not a target” ***

Friday, Dec 12, 2008

*** UPDATE *** From the AP

People who have been briefed on the Illinois governor corruption investigation say Barack Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is not a target of the probe.

* Emanuel gets dragged in

Fox News Chicago reported Friday that Rahm Emanuel, the president-elect’s chief of staff, had “multiple conversations” with Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris about the Senate seat.

The report, which cited a source familiar with the investigation, added that the conversations were “likely recorded and in FBI possession.” […]

According to the Fox source, Emanuel provided the governor’s office with a list of “candidates that would be acceptable to President-elect Barack Obama.”

* This report from the Telegraph, however, is likely incorrect

Suspicion has grown that Mr Emanuel is the unnamed “Washington based adviser” mentioned in the 76-page prosecutors’ affidavit that Mr Blagojevich ordered his chief of staff to contact.

There is no single “Washington based advisor” listed in the complaint. There is an “Advisor B,” who is described as a “Washington D.C.-based consultant.” That person is definitely not Rahm Emanuel.

* More likely, Emanuel is the “President-Elect Advisor” listed in the complaint. There ain’t much there…

On November 13, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with JOHN HARRIS. ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he wanted to be able to call “[President-elect Advisor]” and tell President-elect Advisor that “this has nothing to do with anything else we’re working on but the Governor wants to put together a 501(c)(4)” and “can you guys help him. . . raise 10, 15 million.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he wanted “[President-elect Advisor] to get the word today,” and that when “he asks me for the Fifth CD thing I want it to be in his head.” (The reference to the “Fifth CD thing” is believed to relate to a seat in the United States House of Representatives from Illinois’ Fifth Congressional District. Prior intercepted phone conversations indicate that ROD BLAGOJEVICH and others were determining whether ROD BLAGOJEVICH has the power to appoint an interim replacement until a special election for the seat can be held.).

Also on November 13, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Advisor A. ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he wants the idea of the 501(c)(4) in President-elect Advisor’s head, but not in connection with the Senate appointment or the congressional seat. Advisor A asked whether the conversation about the 501(c)(4) with President-elect Advisor is connected with anything else. ROD BLAGOJEVICH replied that “it’s unsaid. It’s unsaid.”

Later on November 13, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with Advisor A. ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked Advisor A to call Individual A and have Individual A pitch the idea of the 501(c)(4) to “[President-elect Advisor].” Advisor A said that, “while it’s not said this is a play to put in play other things.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH responded, “correct.” Advisor A asked if this is “because we think there’s still some life in [Senate Candidate 1] potentially?” ROD BLAGOJEVICH said, “not so much her, but possibly her. But others.”

* Ben Smith at the Politico ponders

Chicago’s Fox affiliate reports that Emanuel suggested to Blagojevich some names for the seat, nothing more — which would, again, be normal and expected.

Emanuel’s totally uncharacteristic silence, though, is puzzing.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

31 Comments
  1. - Been There - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 2:20 pm:

    ===puzzing==. Kind of gives it a different visual.


  2. - The 'Broken Heart' of Rogers Park - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 2:22 pm:

    ===Emanuel’s totally uncharacteristic silence, though, is puzzing.===

    The Feds can only bleep so much…. Patti and Rod used the FBI’s week bleep quota.


  3. - 2ConfusedCrew - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 2:26 pm:

    Has slick willie quinlan turned up for work yet?


  4. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 2:32 pm:

    Giving Rahm the benefit of the doubt on the selling of the Senate seat that he just passed along possible candidates and nothing more, could he perhaps be concerned about what else he might have said on those calls? Even if nothing illegal, given that he is the White House Chief of Staff designee, he could have said some very embarrassing things on other topics that would reflect badly on him and or President-elect Obama. He’s never been known as a shrinking violet or afraid to say what’s on his mind.


  5. - Mgmax - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 2:36 pm:

    You know what I wonder is… if Emanuel did drop the dime on Blago, would he want people knowing it? There is a sort of omerta among Chicago politicians…


  6. - Scooby - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 2:38 pm:

    Advisor B’s business partner is coming off this huge success and now here’s Advisor B in this huge mess. Must be fun in that office.


  7. - Cassandra - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 2:42 pm:

    I agree with RB. Emmanuel isn’t stupid. But he is widely reputed as being something of, well, an arrogant jerk. Arrogant jerks often get those reputations because of the way they talk about things. And, to be fair, many are excoriating Mrs. B. for sounding like, well, an arrogant jerk.

    Maybe Obama ought to rethink how much discretion to give Rahm to talk to folks on his own in these critical early days.


  8. - Bill Baar - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 2:42 pm:

    Rahm says he’s getting death threats.


  9. - Fan of the Game - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 2:44 pm:

    “There ain’t much here” in the complaint, but Fitzgerald himself said the complaint is not a complete rendering of whatthe tapes contain. Maybe they implicate Emanuel. Maybe they don’t.


  10. - Pat collins - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 2:57 pm:

    Rahm says he’s getting death threats

    Seriously? With the Secret Service ready to pounce all over that? Who would be so stupid??


  11. - Bill Baar - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 3:02 pm:

    Yes, according to ABC,

    Emanuel appeared “beet-red,” according to an ABC News cameraman who was invited inside by Emmanuel to use his bathroom this morning.

    “I’m getting regular death threats. You’ve put my home address on national television. I’m pissed at the networks. You’ve intruded too much, ” Emanuel said, according to the cameraman.

    You read Kass today?

    The Gov keeps a cooler head than Rahm.


  12. - Bill Baar - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 3:04 pm:

    I’m not entirely certain why the Networks need to stake out any of their homes by the way. I guess to see who goes inside for a chat, but these stakeouts seem a little extreme to me.


  13. - question - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 3:05 pm:

    Has Rahm resigned his congressional seat?


  14. - Andy T. - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 3:06 pm:

    No money raised from McPier????


  15. - ivoted4judy - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 3:17 pm:

    That was a good question by 2confused!! Rich get us the scoop just where is the Q Dog been since Tuesday? Chances are he is still singing to Fitz, he is probably just now up to 2005 shenanigans.


  16. - 2ConfusedCrew - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 3:19 pm:

    “I’m not entirely certain why the Networks need to stake out any of their homes by the way. I guess to see who goes inside for a chat, but these stakeouts seem a little extreme to me.”

    Because this is what passes for “news” in the visual news media world Don’t see the cameras saking out Sam Zell’s wondering why he did not run down Michigan Ave to tell the G that Blagoof was shaking him down. Hmmmmmm Any answers Mr. Nils????


  17. - Bubba - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 3:23 pm:

    Neil Cavuto just uttered a “teaser”…
    “Is Rahm GONE”?????


  18. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 3:26 pm:

    I would suspect that Rahm Emanuel is keeping his mouth shut because he has been told to by either the US Attorney’s Office or Obama himself. If he is on tape, I’m sure he is telling Blago to bleep himself.


  19. - Bill Baar - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 3:55 pm:

    He hasn’t resigned. He’s shown as NOT VOTING on the auto bill.


  20. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 4:07 pm:

    Again, not being a target, while good for him personally, doesn’t necessarily mean he didn’t say something politically embarrassing on one of those calls.


  21. - NimROD - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 4:14 pm:

    And, I might add - the campaign is over. It is likely the media lovefest with Obama and his staff is also. I suspect the kid gloves are either off or will be coming off pretty quickly.

    If you read some of the other sites like Politico, there are a lot of complaints from Democrats that their reporters have recently turned on Obama and Co. like a pack of starving dogs. This should have been anticipated.


  22. - Observer - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 4:25 pm:

    A press feed like this leads me to believe the US Attorney is trying to take some heat off Emanuel which leads me to believe he is in cahoots with them.


  23. - Sweet Polly Purebred - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 4:28 pm:

    I can honestly say that I never thought I would see the day that Rahm was left speechless! I would have to agree with a number of the other posters that while Rahm may have done nothing illegal, it is entirely possible that he did SAY some things that may well be damaging to the emerging Obama administration - after all he is not always the coolest of heads in a verbal skirmish.


  24. - Holdingontomywallet - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 6:34 pm:

    Transparency and change? What’s the holdup? I thought the people deserved a “transparent and open government”. What was said in the conversations with the gov? We’re waiting…


  25. - Bill Baar - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 6:56 pm:

    It could be the Gov got the better of Rahm in these calls… It could be Raham and Obama are wondering just what Teheran and Havanna will think of an Administration that bungles negotiations with Rod.

    That could be the humiliation here.


  26. - Sweet Polly Purebred - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 7:21 pm:

    Bill - It truly could be humiliation in the making! If they could be tripped up by “Poison Ivy” Blagojevich, are they really prepared to deal with the world as it exists today? It will be most interesting to watch the Obama team handle this with true transparency. We shall see…


  27. - wordslinger - Friday, Dec 12, 08 @ 11:15 pm:

    The Obama people need to get their heads out of Illinois.

    In normal circumstances, like Delaware and New York, talking about a Senate replacement is normal business. But with their past relationships with Blago, and his unique issues, they just should have stayed away. No upside, big downside.

    You’re going to the Big Show, let the minor leagues take care of themselves.


  28. - Bill Baar - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 5:17 am:

    ditto workslinger… Obama’s first mistake was doing the transition from Chicago when this train was obviously headed for Illinois.

    He should have said goodbye the day he was elected.


  29. - Lynn S - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 11:47 am:

    But how could he say goodbye? His daughters are in school, and I saw a blurb this morning saying the Obamas’ request to stay in Blair House starting in early January so the girls could start school on Jan. 5 was denied by the Bushies. It is possible Rahm said something embarassing on the wire, but isn’t it also possible that the whole Obama crew wanted to spend a few months at home after being on the road almost continuously for almost 2 years and before they move in January?


  30. - wordslinger - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 1:38 pm:

    The Trib’s story today on the Emanuel and Harris conversations reveals more than a little bit of chutzpah.

    The story says that Emanuel called Harris the Saturday BEFORE the election with a list of Senate replacements “acceptable” to Obama: Jarrett, Duckworth, Hynes and Schakowsky. After the election, he called and added Lisa Madigan.

    Some names conspicuous by their absence, no?

    There’s nothing inherently inappropriate with a president-elect’s chief of staff talking with a governor’s chief of staff about a senate vacancy. But there are federalism and separation of power issues that argue for not coming on too strong. Not to mention Rod’s peculiar status with the Justice Department.

    Emanuel’s actions, if the story is right, strike me as arrogant Bossism, and not terribly bright.

    Consider:

    –Emanuel initiates the conversation, and does so before Obama has even been elected and before he’s been named chief of staff. Arrogant.

    – A list of acceptable candidates. Bossism. Obama’s the president-elect, not the King of Illinois. It would have been more appropriate for the governor’s office to contact Obama with a list to determine if any of the names were objectionable.

    And not terribly bright. Emanuel had to know better than anyone how Rod does business. Certainly he knew there could be the possibility of a wholly inappropriate request being made in exchange for an appointment from the “acceptable” list.

    And since he knew Blago’s administration was under intense Justice Department scrutiny, the thought must have crossed his mind that any phone conversation with Harris or Blago could be recorded, right?

    God forbid that an inappropriate request be caught on tape!

    Combined with Axelrod’s flip-flop on Obama discussing the vacancy with Blago, it doesn’t seem like the president-elect’s top guys are bringing their A Game right now.

    Let’s hope that it’s not their A Game.


  31. - Sweet Polly Purebred - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 2:15 pm:

    Wordslinger - Excellent posting! You hit the proverbial nail on the head. Thank you for expressing it so well.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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