Mediaite's Frances Martel falsely claimed that a motion filed by former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich “directly implicate[s]” White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in Blagojevich's alleged attempt to sell the open Senate seat vacated by President Obama in 2008. In fact, the document confirms Emanuel's previous account of contacts with Blagojevich's chief of staff and in no way suggests Emanuel was involved with Blagojevich's alleged scheme.
Mediaite falsely claims Emanuel is “directly implicate[d]” in “the affair”
From an April 22 Mediaite story:
More details from the subpoena:
19. President-elect Obama was also involved in other senate candidate choices. On December 8, 2008, John Harris' secretary's call log noted President's Chief of Staff called at 10:47 am and wrote “needs to talk to you asap” (Harris 302, February 20, 2009). President's Chief of Staff told the FBI that he had a conversation discussing the Senate seat with Obama on December 7, 2008 in Obama's car. President's Chief of Staff told the FBI “Obama expressed concern about Senate Candidate D being appointed as Senator. [President's Chief of Staff] suggested they might need an expanded list to possibly include names of African Americans that came out of the business world. [President's Chief of Staff] thought he suggested Senate Candidate E who was the head of the Urban League and with President's Chief of Staff's suggestion.” (President's Chief of Staff, 302, 12-20-08).
These are the paragraphs that directly implicate White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the affair. The direct conversation between Emanuel and Harris (Blagojevich's chief-of-staff) is mostly bad for the Democrats for image reasons, but because of the continued denial of any communication between Obama and Blagojevich staff, this new bit of conversation is also not helpful.
Motion does not contradict previous Emanuel account of contacts or suggest impropriety
The motion indicates only that Emanuel called to speak to Blagojevich's chief of staff on December 8, 2008. Blagojevich's motion states: “On December 8, 2008, John Harris' secretary's call log noted President's Chief of Staff called at 10:47 am and wrote 'needs to talk to you asap' (Harris 302, February 20, 2009).”
Obama transition report: Emanuel “had about four telephone conversations” with Blagojevich's chief of staff, which did not touch on “personal benefit” for Gov. A December 23, 2008, report detailing the extent of contacts between transition staff and the Blagojevich administration regarding the Senate seat described conversations between Emanuel and Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris: “Between the time that Mr. Emanuel decided to accept the position of Chief of Staff in the White House and December 8, 2008, Mr. Emanuel had about four telephone conversations with John Harris, Chief of Staff to the Governor, on the subject of the Senate seat. In these conversations, Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Harris discussed the merits of potential candidates and the strategic benefit that each candidate would bring to the Senate seat.” The report states that there was “no discussion” during the conversations of any “personal benefit for the Governor in exchange for the Senate appointment.”
Motion does not “implicate” Emanuel in Blagojevich's alleged scheme. Blagojevich has been indicted on 24 counts including racketeering, attempted extortion, bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit extortion, some of which deal with what U.S. Attorney Patrick Fizgerald called Blagojevich's attempt “to sell the appointment to the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Obama.” The portion of the motion cited by Mediaite in no way suggests that Emanuel was any way involved in that alleged effort.
Tapper, Sun-Times: No criminal wrongdoing alleged by Blagojevich
Tapper: “Blagojevich alleges no criminal wrongdoing by the president or his team.” In an April 23 post on ABC's Political Punch blog, Jake Tapper wrote that “Blagojevich alleges no criminal wrongdoing by the president or his team, though he does raise questions about what he says are conflicting stories.”
Chicago Sun-Times: Subpoena “doesn't accuse the president of any wrongdoing.” On April 22, the Chicago Sun Times reported “The Blagojevich court filing doesn't accuse the president of any wrongdoing.”