Blago-Rahma: Only one call between Blago and Emanuel?

posted at 12:00 pm on December 21, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

George Stephanopolous reports for ABC that Barack Obama’s incoming team will reveal that Rahm Emanuel only had one direct contact with Governor Rod Blagojevich during the latter’s attempts to sell the Senate seat, and that the replacement of Obama barely got mentioned.  Earlier, the Chicago Sun-Times’ sources said that the FBI had 21 separate calls from Emanuel on the wiretaps.  The numbers will not match up, even comparing apples to apples:

Sources tell me that the Obama team’s review of contacts with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will show that Rahm Emanuel had only one phone conversation with Blagojevich.

The contact, described as a “pro-forma” courtesy call, came as Emanuel was named Chief of Staff for Obama.  Most of the discussion concerned Emanuel’s Congressional seat (which had previously been held by Blagojevich), with only a “passing reference” to the Senate vacancy, according to these sources.  No deal for the Senate vacancy was discussed.

However, Emanuel had closer contacts and deeper conversations with Blagojevich’s chief of staff John Harris:

The sources add that the report will show Emanuel also had four phone calls with Blagojevich Chief of Staff John Harris.  During those conversations, the Senate seat was discussed.  The pros and cons of various candidates were reviewed, and the sources say that Emanuel repeatedly reminded Harris that Blagojevich should focus on the message the pick would send about the governor and his administration.

Sources also confirm that Emanuel made the case for picking Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett during at least one of the conversations.  In the course of that conversation, Harris asked if in return for picking Jarrett, “all we get is appreciation, right?”  “Right,” Emanuel responded.

That adds up to five conversations, not 21.  The sources of the Sun-Times appear to come from the investigation, while the Stephanopolous report almost certainly come from Team Obama.  It seems unlikely that Emanuel would directly deal with anyone at a lower level than Harris; a White House chief of staff does not talk to assistants and clerks, not even during a transition.  How those numbers get resolved may demonstrate the extent to which Emanuel might find himself a focus of the probe later.

Obama and Emanuel still have a problem even accepting the circumstances as leaked to ABC.  That question from John Harris to Rahm Emanuel may not be explicit enough to qualify legally as an offer to bribe, but it clearly shows that Harris wanted a better deal than gratitude for the Senate seat.  After making that clear to Emanuel, did Emanuel tell Obama what was going on in Illinois?  And more to the point, did he pick up the phone and inform the FBI and/or Patrick Fitzgerald?

If he did, then he and Team Obama should be commended.  If he didn’t — if he knowingly ignored the fact that Blagojevich had put up the Senate seat for sale and put out a bid request for it — then Obama and his team are off to a disastrous start, ethically speaking.  It may not be illegal to fail to report such an obvious attempt to sell the seat, but it would show a monumental gap between the campaign rhetoric of Barack Obama and the reality of how he governs.  Obama would have to jettison Emanuel under those circumstances or face questions for the next four years about how his team operates.


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Oh this is fun. Blago-Rhama is the gift that keeps on giving.

HawaiiLwyr on December 21, 2008 at 12:09 PM

This just opened up a whole new line of inquiry: The Congressional seat.

We’ve all been focused on the behind-the-scenes trading for the Senate seat. Naturally. But now this ABC News article exposes the fact that Rahm and Blago discussed what would happen to the Chicago Congressional seat, that will now be vacated.

Anyone who is appointed to that seat, will now be tainted by this scandal. There MUST BE A SPECIAL ELECTION.

ericdondero on December 21, 2008 at 12:11 PM

Let’s see if the Sun-Times will stand by their story.

American Taxpayers need to hear all the tapes!

Firebird on December 21, 2008 at 12:11 PM

All we have to believe is that a Senator who wins the White House does not have consultations with the governor of his home state about the Senate seat to believe there’s nothing to this.

In other words, PULL THE OTHER LEG!

Sekhmet on December 21, 2008 at 12:15 PM

The lack of anything is more disturbing than an abundance of it. Someone’s hiding something.

johnnyU on December 21, 2008 at 12:16 PM

BlagObamaRhama. I sing it to the “Name Game” Rhama, Rhama. Bobama, banana bana foRhama………..fea fi fo BlagObamaRhama. Sounds like a hit to me.

sheriff246 on December 21, 2008 at 12:16 PM

Silly Ed.

It all depends on what the definition of “direct contact” is.

Won’t you ever learn?

notagool on December 21, 2008 at 12:20 PM

The liberal B.S. machine is in full swing much like they were during the Clintoon years; no surprise there.

The real story will be how the lousy lawyers will get this so fouled up that we never get to hear the tapes, never find out how many times B. Hussein Obama was involved in this criminal activity, and they will even manage to keep Blago out of court.

Welcome to the new Democrat Empire. :oP

DannoJyd on December 21, 2008 at 12:20 PM

ericdondero on December 21, 2008 at 12:11 PM

There’s really no point. You could have documented proof that the dealmaking for that seat was tainted, and the only change would be that there would be a Democratic primary. Emanuel’s seat is pretty much William Jefferson’s seat, without ethical voters.

KingGold on December 21, 2008 at 12:23 PM

Well this is fun …. What we know know about Obama is he lies and is a crook. And not very good at either. Surly not up to Clinton standards.

tarpon on December 21, 2008 at 12:26 PM

Obama needs Emanuel too badly to throw him under the bus. So Emanual will be “absolved.”

Wethal on December 21, 2008 at 12:28 PM

Well this is fun …. What we know know about Obama is he lies and is a crook. And not very good at either. Surly not up to Clinton standards.

tarpon on December 21, 2008 at 12:26 PM

Well, duh! Why do you think that B. Hussein O. hired so many of Cigarmans minions? :oD

DannoJyd on December 21, 2008 at 12:32 PM

Geez Louise this is an incestuous bunch.

Obama’s hands are completely clean of course.

NoLeftTurn on December 21, 2008 at 12:34 PM

So far nothing’s been revealed that will have any lasting impact on the President-elect. It seems likely at this point that the One’s administration will get a clean bill of health. Blago might not even go to jail.

As far as Obama “facing” any questions, the last 2 years has demonstrated that to be very unlikely. The dinosaur media will continue to protect the One they helped crown. Those asking hard questions may likely get “Joe” treatment.

Election ’08 showed that not enough Americans care about truth or reality to be concerned with digging into what’s going on with the Political class – just how much cash they’ll get for their vote.

Perfesser on December 21, 2008 at 12:41 PM

As my granddaughter might say, Stephanopolous’ reporting is “poo poo”.

Mason on December 21, 2008 at 12:43 PM

Some are speculating that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald blew this case. Blago was arrested before a crime was committed. If he had waited we would have had a ‘twofer’ (Blago and the senator seat buyer).

Why would an experienced prosecutor make an arrest before a crime was committed?

Only one reason: Like Fitzgerald said; “To end a political crime spree.” (Before Obama himself was implicated.)

If this had been allowed to play out to the logical conclusion, perhaps Fitzgerald was afraid that Rahm Emanual would have lead to Obama himself being implicated.

Any other theories out there?

The Rock on December 21, 2008 at 12:44 PM

If he didn’t — if he knowingly ignored the fact that Blagojevich had put up the Senate seat for sale and put out a bid request for it — then Obama and his team are off to a disastrous start, ethically speaking.

You have got to be kidding me. If the report is true, and the only indication that Blagojevich wanted something for the seat was “and we only get appreciation for this, right?”, how can you say with a straight face that failure to tell the FBI of this comment would put the Obama administration to a disastrous start, ethically speaking?

That’s a laughable claim.

Tom_Shipley on December 21, 2008 at 12:47 PM

And the reason we should believe anything that comes out Stepanie’s pie hole is what exactly?

eaglewingz08 on December 21, 2008 at 1:05 PM

And the reason we should believe anything that comes out Stepanie’s pie hole is what exactly?

eaglewingz08 on December 21, 2008 at 1:05 PM

Because she’s cute?

/sarc

platypus on December 21, 2008 at 1:07 PM

One? One! Please that’s a joke right. I guess they feel if they admit to 1 then the other 50 won’t matter.

Mercy4Me on December 21, 2008 at 1:11 PM

I’m spamming the boards with this, but I still want to know: how did the SEIU guy come to believe he was in a position to bargain for Valerie Jarrett? He would have been in contact with someone representing Obama, Emmanuel, or Jarrett.

MayBee on December 21, 2008 at 1:19 PM

The press and Republican lawyers had better be going to court for these tapes, they need to be made public. There’s a reason 0BamaRhama have shut up and its’ probably because they are all over them and afraid they will come out. I’m sure there’s plenty of Dem lawyers lining up to make sure they don’t surface until after 0bamaRhama has served their two annoitments.

dhunter on December 21, 2008 at 1:21 PM

But but but……..the Obami team never had any contact with Blago! That is what Obami said!!! Like we believe anything that comes out of his lying mouth! One phone call? Then the Feds are lying when they say they have 21 calls? Ha ha ha!! I will take the Feds word over the Obami team any day. This will be interesting when the dirt comes out of the wash.

sheebe on December 21, 2008 at 1:21 PM

Don’t worry Bambi, I’m sure Fitzy will purge all contacts from the wiretap database.

conservnut on December 21, 2008 at 1:23 PM

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE… can we have a press conference with Joe “Gird your loins” Biden about this???

bullseye on December 21, 2008 at 1:39 PM

Do you think Rhambo tapes will be the next “Expletive Deleted?

Done That on December 21, 2008 at 1:45 PM

If the report is true,…

Tom_Shipley on December 21, 2008 at 12:47 PM

Depends on the definition of “if”. We already know how much truth is in the liberal definition of true.

Yoop on December 21, 2008 at 1:45 PM

“That’s not the Rahm Emanuel I knew” by BHO in 3….2….1…

Craniac on December 21, 2008 at 1:53 PM

If Rahm did call Fitz and turn in Blago, why is he hiding from the media?

kcarpenter on December 21, 2008 at 2:15 PM

This smells like the clinton testimony stuff where they put out the story that said his testimony was a bombshell…then it was quite dull.

The crime is still there and just as bad, but it isn’t as sexy.

tomas on December 21, 2008 at 2:18 PM

Blagojevich is on tape saying he doesn’t want to wait 2 years to be paid off by Obama.
What would make Blagojevich think Obama would pay him off in 2 years?

free on December 21, 2008 at 2:28 PM

People are missing the point.
Blago will expose Obama on past shady deals
Fitz has won his last 24 cases.

Firebird on December 21, 2008 at 2:29 PM

You people are all ex-Birthers, aren’t you?

benny shakar on December 21, 2008 at 3:58 PM

Here’s a very interesting alternative hypothesis.Was Obama the one doing the pressuring?

Evil Pundit on December 21, 2008 at 4:09 PM

You people are all ex-Birthers, aren’t you?

benny shakar on December 21, 2008 at 3:58 PM

Better a birther than a pathetic blind sycophant follower of a false messiah.

bullseye on December 21, 2008 at 4:21 PM

You people are all ex-Birthers, aren’t you?

benny shakar on December 21, 2008 at 3:58 PM

Here he is with his false equivalences, right on cue. Is there some kind of alarm that goes off on your computer when a BS analogy is needed on a Hot Air thread?

If you were to ever address an issue head-on, as opposed to with some irrelevant snark, I would fear that the end truly was nigh. And as a rule, I don’t fear the end being nigh.

venividivici on December 21, 2008 at 4:46 PM

It may not be illegal to fail to report such an obvious attempt to sell the seat, but it would show a monumental gap between the campaign rhetoric of Barack Obama and the reality of how he governs.

That’s the money quote.

We’re in for four or eight years of Chicago mob style politics from a Chicago thug politician. I don’t care about Barry succeeding. I care about America succeeding.

Mojave Mark on December 22, 2008 at 1:13 AM

The Corruptocrats will whitewash the whole thing. That and some of the folks who “know a bit too much” will find themselves wearing concrete shoes on the bottom of Lake Michigan.

Nahanni on December 22, 2008 at 3:12 AM

Obama would have to jettison Emanuel under those circumstances or face questions for the next four years about how his team operates.

Oh please, Ed.

Obama is an incredulous fraudster and we all know it. Either that or he’s an ignoramus not tuned into the funding mechanisms of his own campaign, wherein basic security and fraud detection features are disabled so Doodad Pro can make 100 $199.99 donations unnoticed.

Neither his love for fraud or his cluelessness of it bode well for America.

BKennedy on December 22, 2008 at 6:03 AM

Obama is an incredulous fraudster and we all know it. Either that or he’s an ignoramus not tuned into the funding mechanisms of his own campaign
BKennedy on December 22, 2008 at 6:03 AM

While I’d have to cut Ed some slack due to the necessity to avoid libel and/or the wrath of the Obama Truth Squad, we all need to keep in mind the facts you underscore: that Obama/Axelrod has proven itself to be an incredibly slick operation that’s highly skilled in exploiting the system, the media and the public.

Most people, for instance, are ignoring the fact that cell-to-cell calls can’t be taped without the participation of one of the participants, while the calls under speculation are those to land lines only. Does anyone think Emanuel isn’t smart enough to know that? Does an operation this tightly controlled not attempt to anticipate all the angles on their every move, night and day, especially in dealing with radioactive politicians such as Blago?

Does anyone recall Obama moaning to Barbara Walters last month that he’s trying to work out a deal with the Secret Service to get himself a private wireless line (traditionally taboo for POTUS for obvious security reasons). Obama really, really wants one because he’s so addicted to his Blackberry, and he so wants to stay in touch with his sycophantic followers the grass roots, or some such blather. Right.

Obama was an excellent student of Chicago politics, and his personal team are master manipulators of the facts in a compliant media. The duel is on with Fitz, and unfortunately, I think the latter is outmatched and out-lawyered. He’ll go for the low-hanging fruit, and be lucky if he even gets that.

Nichevo on December 22, 2008 at 8:11 AM

It won’t matter.

Rahm Emanuel is someone he knows. Who has been a respected public figure and done the business of the people of Illinois. Obama does not know him well and has just been a chief of staff who lives in the neighborhood.

On an interesting note: Patti Blago has has had an 8 year relationship with none other than Tony Rezko. Rezko is said to be talking…

moxie_neanderthal on December 22, 2008 at 8:52 AM

After reading the last sentence, I’m just wondering who is going to be asking Obama these tough questiopns?
I’m quite sure HotAir won’t be allowed to ask any of the messiah, and we know the outrageously corrupt liberal media isn’t up to the task.

BobUSMC on December 22, 2008 at 3:06 PM