Obama's five rules of scandal response
Tuesday's report from the transition, detailing contacts between members of Obama's inner circle and embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and concluding that "nothing at all inappropriate" was discussed, won't be the final word on the subject—but it did provide some telling insight into the way the White House's new occupant will operate.
But after announcing the review, his team declined to reveal who would conduct it, who would be interviewed or whether the resulting release would include any transition e-mails or records to support its conclusions.
The review itself answered just one of those questions — we now know that White House Counsel Greg Craig led the review, which didn't include any documentation of what materials it went over — but it raised others, among them: Why did Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett communicate with Craig through her lawyer, whom the report does not name; how many conversations did incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel have with Blagojevich; and why was Obama himself interviewed by prosecutors?
Equally unclear is what exactly was reviewed in the report that concludes that nothing inappropriate occurs, and whether there were any transition e-mails or other records covering the Senate seat selection process.
"We asked each individual who we thought might have had some contact or some communication that would be meaningful" to reconstruct "any contacts or communications, and that would include checking cell phone records or e-mails, and we inquired about that," Craig said. He added that "we've got the information that is required," and said he didn't know of any written communications.
3 - No freelancing
To the extent that the report succeeds in its goal of establishing the distance between Obama and Blagojevich, it necessarily raises the question: Why was the president-elect and leader of the Democratic party playing no role in a key appointment to national office being made in his home state, and by a Democratic governor?
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