No discussions between Blago and Obama? Maybe

Yesterday, President-elect Barack Obama tried to distance himself from Governor Rod Blagojevich after his arrest on corruption charges related to his pending appointment to Obama’s now-vacant Senate seat.  Obama himself said that he had had no contact with Blagojevich about the open seat and had no awareness of Blagojevich’s attempts to sell it to the highest bidder.  Even after Jake Tapper pointed out that Obama’s right-hand man, David Axelrod, claimed that Obama and Blagojevich had been in contact, Team Obama issued a denial.

So how do they explain this contemporaneous report from KHQA (via Gateway Pundit)?

Ill. governor meeting with Obama today
By Carol Sowers
Wednesday, November 05, 2008 at 10:39 a.m.

CHICAGO, ILL. — Now that Barack Obama will be moving to the White House, his seat in the U.S. Senate representing Illinois will have to be filled.

That’s one of Obama’s first priorities today.

He’s meeting with Governor Rod Blagojevich this afternoon in Chicago to discuss it.

Jim also has a press release from Blagojevich’s office, but it doesn’t explicitly discuss any meeting with Barack Obama in the same manner as KHQA’s report.  And a search of the two Chicago newspapers, which were in position to report on this story, shows that the KHQA report may not have been accurate.  The Sun-Times reported on November 6th — the day after this report — that Blagojevich himself stated that he had no contact with Obama:

When it comes to filling the remaining two years of Obama’s term, Blagojevich said he intends to turn over the vetting process for Obama’s successor to several high-level staffers in his office whom he wouldn’t name. The governor also said he intends to appoint someone no later than Jan. 1 and possibly before Christmas.

“I’ve never had more friends than I do today. And when I make the final decision, I won’t have nearly as many as I have now,” he said.

Saying he had no favorite candidate yet, Blagojevich said he has not spoken to Obama about the matter but would give “a great deal of weight” to the recommendations the president-elect might make.

The governor said some suitable Obama replacements included Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago), Veteran Affairs secretary Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) but cautioned against “reading anything into” his naming of those people.

Blagojevich had no particular reason to obfuscate at that point.  In fact, he’d have had more reason to brag, especially since it looks now like Blagojevich wanted to increase the commercial potential for the appointment.  It appears that the KHQA report might have been mistaken, although it’s certainly a good point to pursue if evidence appears of complicity on behalf of Obama or his staff in Blagojevich’s shake-down attempts.

However, KHQA stuck with its reporting on November 8th (via Stop the ACLU):

Duckworth comments on consideration for Senate
By Alexis Hunt
Saturday, November 08, 2008 at 9:48 p.m.

QUINCY, IL — Now that Barack Obama will be moving to the White House, his seat in the U.S. Senate representing Illinois will have to be filled.

Obama met with Governor Rod Blagojevich earlier this week to discuss it.  Illinois law states that the governor chooses that replacement. There’s already been speculation about his selection…from Congressman Jesse Jackson, Junior to Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth.

Stay tuned!

One last note: I’d say that these five candidates named by Blagojevich could get mixed-and-matched to Candidates 1-5 in the Fitzgerald affadavit.  I bet Blagojevich wished he’d stuck to the idea of a committee selection process now, too.