What did the president-elect know, and when did he know it?
Obama Scandal #1: Why does Barack Obama feel the need to lie about whether he had been in contact with arrested and disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich?
Arrested today for a raft of corruption charges, including trying to sell Obama’s Senate seat, Blagojevich was caught on tape cussing about the former senator and talking about how he wasn’t going to give up the appointment for nothing.
Rather than get a plum appointment or cold cash for appointing Obama’s preference (apparently Valerie Jarrett, a close Obama aide), he was told by advisors he would have to “suck it up” for two years. To which Blago apparently responded that he wasn’t going to give the “motherf***er [the president-elect] his senator. F*** him. For nothing? F*** him.”
Obama said today he knew nothing of Blago’s sleaziness: “I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.”
But, as Jake Tapper reports, Obama did have contact with the governor and rightly asks the question: “…there remain questions about how Blagojevich knew that Mr. Obama was not willing to give him anything in exchange for the Senate seat — with whom was Blagojevich speaking?”
Blago’s preference for the seat was allegedly Candidate 5, as identified in legal documents, while Jarrett is apparently identified as Candidate 1. Candidate 5 was supposedly expected to raise money for the governor, if he chose to run for reelection, in exchange for the appointment to Obama’s seat. So there appears to have been disagreement between the governor and Obama about who should get the appointment.
Of course, Prosecutor Patrick “Bleep” Fitzgerald and the media are bending over backwards to make sure everyone knows there is currently no evidence Obama knew what was going on. But that doesn’t explain his advisor, David Axelrod, saying on TV recently that Obama had been in touch with Blago (Obama has asked Axelrod to fall on his sword over this one), or the fact that the governor made statements that seemed to be in response to communication with Obama.
So what really happened?
Did negotiations between Obama (or his surrogates) and Blagojevich over the appointment breakdown? Did Obama’s side get pissed that Blago wasn’t cooperating and drop the hammer on him?
And why did Fitzgerald have the governor arrested now, in what he said was “the middle of … a political corruption crime spree”? In the Valerie Plame leak case, Fitzgerald continued to investigate long after he knew who leaked her name. Did he stop the Blago investigation early to protect Obama? Did Obama stop the investigation to protect Obama? As has been reported, Obama’s bagman Rahm Emanuel is rumored to be the whistleblower on Blago. Was Blago threatening to expose the president-elect? Just what exactly the president-elect knew and when he knew it is required. But of course, his praetorian guard (the media) are quickly closing ranks to insulate him, and in a month or two, all of this will be a distant memory.