Obama team had no ‘inappropriate’ contact with Blagojevich: probe

December 24th, 2008 - 8:00 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Dec 24 (DPA) President-elect Barack Obama’s team had no “inappropriate” discussions with scandal-plagued Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich about naming a successor to the Senate, according to a report on an internal inquiry released Tuesday.The long-awaited report by Obama’s legal team said that chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was the only person who had direct contact with the embattled governor, who was arrested earlier this month for widespread public corruption.

The top charge was that Blagojevich sought to solicit bribes for Obama’s vacant Senate seat, according to conversations captured by federal authorities who had wiretapped his office.

Neither Obama nor his team was never implicated in the investigation, but his relations with Blagojevich came under close media scrutiny and the scandal has been a distraction in an otherwise smooth transition to the White House.

Obama gave up his position as an Illinois senator soon after winning the Nov 4 general election. Governor Blagojevich has sole authority to name a successor.

Obama’s team offered Blagojevich a list of six people they considered qualified for the Senate job. Emanuel had “one or two” conversations with Blagojevich and another four conversations with his chief of staff about different candidates’ merits, the report said.

“There was nothing at all inappropriate about those conversations,” said Obama’s chief counsel Greg Craig. “No-one in the Obama circle was aware of what was gong on in the governor’s office or the governor’s mind.”

The Illinois legislature is now considering a special election for Obama’s post. Blagojevich has refused to resign. State lawmakers have begun impeachment proceedings.

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