TRANSITION OFFICE RELEASES BLAGOJEVICH REPORT…. There’s a very good reason the president-elect and the Obama team seemed completely unconcerned about any connection to the Blagojevich controversy — they weren’t connected to the Blagojevich controversy.
An internal review prepared for President-elect Barack Obama says his incoming chief of staff had multiple conversations with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s office, but no one close to Obama suspected that the governor might be trying to sell Obama’s Senate seat as prosecutors allege.
The report was released Tuesday as an Obama transition official confirmed that Obama and two of his top aides, Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett, have been interviewed in connection with the federal investigation into Blagojevich.
Incoming White House attorney Greg Craig, who conducted the internal review at Obama’s request, found that the president-elect had no contact with Blagojevich or any of his staff about the Senate seat he vacated to take over the presidency.
One imagines that Obama detractors might not believe these conclusions — “the transition team can’t clear itself of wrongdoing!” — but the review was done with the knowledge that Blagojevich and his office was the subject of FBI wiretaps. The transition team, in other words, knew in advance that any false claims would be easily exposed, so they had a very strong incentive to be completely honest.
And as expected, there was nothing to hide. The entire Craig memo is online (.pdf), and after reading it, everything we’d heard from Obama and his team was completely true. Obama never spoke to Blagojevich or his office about the Senate vacancy; no one on Obama’s staff ever had any inappropriate discussions with the governor or his office; and no one Obama’s staff ever had any indication that Blagojevich was engaged in alleged corruption.
A Democratic official told CNN this morning, “You’re going to see this is a lot about nothing.” That turned out to be completely right.
I hesitate to use the word “exonerate,” since it implies that one is accused of wrongdoing, but the evidence didn’t support the accusation. This is far less than that — no one on the transition team was ever even accused of misconduct, and a review helps prove that the baseless speculation was without foundation.
The phrase “nothing to see here” keeps coming to mind.