It appears that Barack Obama won’t escape the Rod Blagojevich scandal as easily as first thought. Two senior aides to Obama have been served with federal subpoenas, calling into question how closely the Obama transition team may have been tied to Blagojevich’s attempts to sell Obama’s vacated Senate seat:
Sweeping federal subpoenas of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration include requests for records involving David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, senior advisers to President Barack Obama.
Among 43 subpoenas released by the Blagojevich administration Friday, one from Dec. 8 seeks notes, calendars, correspondence and any other data that relate to Axelrod, Jarrett and 32 other people and organizations.
That was the day before the FBI arrested Blagojevich, a two-term Democrat, on charges that he tried to trade his appointment to replace Obama in the Senate for campaign contributions. Wiretapped conversations show Blagojevich thought Jarrett was interested in the seat and he wanted campaign money or a high-paying job in return, according to a sworn statement.
Obama’s staff released a report in December that said his staff had no inappropriate contact with the governor’s office about the Senate seat, nor was anyone aware of any dealmaking. Axelrod, a Chicago political strategist now in the White House, was not mentioned in the report.
Blago-Rahma followers will recall that the Obama transition team reportedly wanted Jarrett to get the seat. If they pushed Jarrett, two people would have been most likely to act go-between. Rahm Emanuel was the early favorite for that job, but David Axelrod would have been better placed to work between all of the different factions.
Of course, this new revelation opens a new question. Why did the internal report from the Obama team not mention Axelrod when they cleared themselves of all complicity in the scandal? It seems like a strange oversight in retrospect. Perhaps the feds thought the same thing.