The transition team’s Blagojevich review

THE TRANSITION TEAM’S BLAGOJEVICH REVIEW…. Last week, Barack Obama announced that his transition team would review all of its communications with Rod Blagojevich and his office, and in the interests of transparency, release the information. There’s no evidence to suggest wrongdoing on the part of the transition team anyway, but this would (ostensibly) put the matter to rest.

It’s been several days, and the internal review is complete. Patrick Fitzgerald doesn’t want the transition office to release the information, though, so at his behest, it’s being put off a week. Transition Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer issued this statement this afternoon:

“At the direction of the President-elect, a review of Transition staff contacts with Governor Blagojevich and his office has been conducted and completed and is ready for release. That review affirmed the public statements of the President-elect that he had no contact with the governor or his staff, and that the President-elect’s staff was not involved in inappropriate discussions with the governor or his staff over the selection of his successor as US Senator.

“Also at the President-elect’s direction, Gregory Craig, counsel to the Transition, has kept the US Attorney’s office informed of this fact-gathering process in order to ensure our full cooperation with the investigation.

“In the course of those discussions, the US Attorney’s office requested the public release of the Transition review be deferred until the week of December 22, in order not to impede their investigation of the governor. The Transition has agreed to this revised timetable for release,” said Obama Transition Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer.

The AP noted, “That’s Christmas week, when few people will be paying attention and when Obama plans to be celebrating the holiday in Hawaii.”

That’s true, but remember, neither Obama nor his team picked next week. It’s not some deliberate attempt to bury the news; it’s part of an effort to help prosecutors investigate the alleged bad guy. Patrick Fitzgerald, not the transition office, requested the week of December 22. It’s part of the effort to get the alleged bad guy, not part of a cover-up.

The AP’s report added, “The brief statement left several issues uncovered. It did not say whether Obama’s incoming White House chief of staff, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, was heard on a wiretap providing the governor’s top aide with a list of names that the president-elect favored. Nor did it say who if anyone on Obama transition’s team had made contact with the governor or his aides concerning a replacement for Obama.”

Given the last week, I’m starting to get the sense the AP is making a conscious effort to cover this story badly. There are two relevant questions here: did anyone on the transition team take steps to “pay to play” and did anyone on the transition team know in advance that the governor was trying to sell the seat to the highest bidder. Based on what we know, the answer to both is an obvious “no.”

Today’s statement, rather than leaving relevant issues “uncovered,” seems to resolve the matter even further, noting that Obama had no contact with the governor or his staff, and no one on Obama’s staff was involved in inappropriate discussions with the governor or his staff.

There’s still no there there, whether the AP wants to believe otherwise — or wants us to believe otherwise — or not.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.