The Obama transition team internal review didn’t resolve all, or even most, questions about its dealings with Blago. For those paying attention, there are plenty of holes in the story.
Tom Bevan doesn’t think much of the Obama team’s self-exoneration effort.
How did Blago know he wasn’t going to get anything but “appreciation” from Obama and his team for appointing Jarrett? Craig’s report doesn’t answer that question – even though Craig said yesterday he’s “confident” he was made aware of and reported all contacts between the two camps.
There’s also the matter of Rahm Emanuel’s phone conversations. Craig reports Emanuel had “one or two” phone conversations with Blagojevich. Asked by a reporter why he couldn’t say definitively whether it was one conversation or two conversations, Craig said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that Rahm had recalled his conversations from memory and wasn’t absolutely sure whether it was “one or two.”
Even as a matter of memory recall this is dubious (it’s not like we’re talking about 5 years or even 5 months ago), but shortly thereafter, when asked whether there were any audio tapes, emails or other documents that were going to be released, Craig said that he asked Emanuel and Jarrett to go back and “reconstruct” their previous contacts with the Blagojevich administration using phone bills, emails, etc. The point, of course, is that if Rahm had really done this it would be easy to say with certainty how many conversations he had with the Governor.
All of this, however, is merely parsing the details of a farce. I’m not suggesting there was any illegality or corruption on the part of Obama or his team, but rather ridiculing the idea that this was some sort of serious, credible review. A President-elect having his own incoming White House Counsel conduct an internal review that exonerates the President-elect and his staff is not what most people would consider to be a legitimate, independent investigation.
And the Chicago Sun Times spots the mini-controversy within the bigger scandal: Rahm Emanuel working with Blago to “keep his seat warm.” He isn’t expecting to stay long as chief of staff? Not many details on that in the Obama internal review — which highlights how little “color” we got from the report. (If anything in this entire affair highlights the poor judgment of Emanuel, it would be his trying to negotiate the future of his own Congressional seat with a figure known to be under investigation.)
It remains to be seen whether there will be much post-holiday interest by the MSM in following up on these points. Certainly the most compelling storyline, as the Note points out, involves a key ally rather than an actual member of the incoming administration:
And it may be some union officials who have the most explaining to do. (Do the Obama folks need any more excuses to sideline card-check for a nice long spell?)
But in some sense the media doesn’t control this story; Patrick Fitzgerald and Blago do. With each step in the impeachment and grand jury proceedings, more and more testimony will be taken and more and more will be known. As in the Valerie Plame affair, we’ll keep count of how many times each advisor is asked for testimony and learn through a series of inevitable leaks whose story is holding up. Sooner or later we will know who knew and said what, and when.
It is the ultimate irony of course. In an administration premised so heavily on change, continuity has so far predominated (on everything from personnel to national security). And there is Fitzgerald lurking about like the house guest of a prior resident who shows no sign of packing up anytime soon. There he’ll be – to challenge and distract government officials who never imagined they’d be caught up in a criminal investigation.