OF COURSE THEY SPOKE…. Apparently, the big Blagojevich-related news of the weekend is evidence that the governor spoke, on more than one occasion, to soon-to-be White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
President-elect Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, communicated with the office of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois about potential candidates for Mr. Obama’s Senate seat and provided a list of names, according to two Obama associates briefed on the matter.
The Obama associates said the interactions concerned several people who might fill the seat. Such contacts are common among party officials when a political vacancy is to be filled. It was not clear whether the communication was via direct telephone calls.
I keep waiting for some tidbit here that’s supposed to be interesting, but so far, these revelations seem pretty routine and not controversial in the slightest.
Obama’s chief of staff talked to the governor who’ll fill the vacancy left by Obama’s presidency? Well, sure, of course they talked. It would have been odd if they hadn’t. Emanuel, who’s represented Illinois in Congress, had ideas about who might make a good senator? Well, sure, of course he did. As the Chicago Tribune noted, “The revelation does not suggest Obama’s new gatekeeper was involved in any talk of dealmaking involving the seat.”
And that’s really what this is all about. If Emanuel took steps to “pay to play,” it would be a problem. If Emanuel knew that the governor was trying to sell the seat to the highest bidder, that, too, would be a problem. But at this point, what evidence is there to support either of these contentions? There is none.
But, the AP insists, Obama said on Thursday that he’s “confident” that “nobody on his staff” discussed the vacant Senate seat with Blagojevich. Doesn’t the new information suggest that the president-elect wasn’t telling the whole truth?
It might, if the AP’s report were accurate, but it’s not. What Obama said was straightforward and easy to understand: “I have never spoken to the governor on this subject. I’m confident that no representatives of mine would have any part of any deals related to this seat. I think the materials released by the U.S. attorney reflect that fact.”
The AP’s report, in the very first sentence, completely misrepresents what Obama said.
So, what have we learned? That Emanuel talked to Blagojevich about the vacancy, which isn’t inappropriate, and which was fully expected. Not exactly exciting stuff.