Ed Rendell conveniently frames The One’s cautious handling of this as an amateur mistake that’s destined to prolong the coverage. Really? Amateurishness isn’t the first quality that springs to mind when I think of someone like Axelrod. Nor does the infamously combative Rahm Emanuel strike me as the type to be cowed into silence by death threats. Here’s a radical alternative theory: Maybe they’re honestly worried that someone on the team’s exposed and don’t want to give the press any new crumbs until they have their story straight.

Obama’s staff has declined to respond to even basic questions, like who is conducting the probe, how long it will take, what issues are being explored and whether they are working with federal investigators. Obama has promised transparency throughout his service and to divulge contacts his staff has had with Blagojevich’s office in the coming days. But his staff has locked down on inquiries in the meantime…

Emanuel is not a target of the probe, according to people who have been briefed on the investigation.

The two people spoke on a condition of anonymity because the criminal investigation is ongoing. One is a person close to Emanuel, who said he has been told by investigators that he’s not a subject of their probe…

Another question that Obama’s staff didn’t answer is how he knows that his office had no involvement if he had yet to gather all the facts about conversations they had with Blagojevich’s office. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, transition officials said they do not want to release any information on the internal review until it is completed.

My hunch is the same as Maguire’s — that someone on the team was approached by Blago to make a deal, that the offer was rejected, but that that person then neglected to tell Fitzgerald about it. Is that illegal, i.e. misprision of felony, or just shady? Such are the questions Team Barry may find itself momentarily consumed by.

In case you’re wondering, no, Obama’s approval rating hasn’t suffered from this at all.

Tags: Barack Obama