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Blagojevich questioning takes up Obama's time

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In this Dec. 22, 2003, file photo, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., right, answers a AP – In this Dec. 22, 2003, file photo, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., right, answers a question as Illinois Gov. …

WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama has said all along that neither he nor his team was involved in any eye-popping dealmaking over filling his vacated Senate seat. Obama's hand-picked investigator agreed.

"Everybody behaved appropriately," declared Greg Craig, Obama's incoming White House counsel and the person asked to conduct the internal inquiry into contacts between the transition team and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Prosecutors have said Obama is not implicated in the case against Blagojevich, accused of trying to sell Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder. But the corruption scandal has drained precious energy from Obama's preparations to take over the White House.

In addition to the time Craig devoted to the internal review that Obama requested, the topic also has surfaced at news conferences intended to highlight key appointments and policy priorities. And Obama himself had to sit down last week in Chicago for an interview by federal investigators, Craig's report revealed. Accompanying him was lawyer Robert Bauer, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Federal investigators last week also interviewed two top Obama aides, incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. Though Craig completed his review more than a week ago, Obama delayed making it public until those interviews were finished and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald gave his team the go-ahead to put it out.

The inquiry was released Tuesday in Washington while Obama was vacationing in Hawaii. Though Obama has taken questions on the matter on five occasions since Blagojevich's Dec. 9 arrest, the president-elect did not make himself available Tuesday to talk about it.

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