Dec 21 2008

Team Obama Was The Side Pressuring For Senate Successor – Not Team Blagojevich

Updates Below

Ex-mayor Willie Brown has shed some critical light onto the Obama-Blagojevich affair. It seems now that this was all a push initiated by team Obama to stop Blagojevich from selecting a successor to Obama. It seems Blagojevich has a candidate in mind that Obama wanted to stop. In light of what Willie Brown has uncovered in his recent talks with Gov Blag, it seems Team Obama was the one putting the pressure on Team Blagojevich and not the other way around!

I wouldn’t bet on him stepping aside anytime soon. If anything, his hand is getting stronger by the day.

I can’t go into details, but my impression is that the whole mess started because the governor had been considering appointing a political rival, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, to the Senate so she wouldn’t be able to run against him when he went up for re-election in 2010.

Apparently, Obama’s people weren’t happy about the idea of Madigan coming to Washington, and there were some pretty heated conversations between Blagojevich and Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, which I understand will burn your ears off.

This really changes everything we read from Fitzgerald. Now Blagojevich’s rants about Obama giving nothing to get Obama’s selection(s) into the US Senate has morphed into Obama pressuring a sitting governor to allow the President-Elect to dictate the selection. Blagojevich’s requirements for a quid pro quo are now maybe a push back against an incoming administration who wanted control over who got into the Senate. Now the quid pro quo discussions are about what Obama would be willing to give up in order for Blagojevich to do Obama’s bidding on the selection and not go with his preferred choice of Madigan (who I warned should keep her mouth shut about impeachment, etc until the facts came out).

Now the awkwardness of the Obama denials make sense.

This political problem arose in part because Obama was so eager to appear purer than any politician can actually be. In his initial statements, he sounded as if he was trying to say that he knew nothing at all about the selection of his successor. “I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening,” he told the press, and refused to elaborate.

That remark clarified nothing; today it seems like obfuscation at best and prevarication at worst. Nobody is likely to believe that Emanuel spoke more than 20 times with Blagojevich or the governor’s aide John Harris without informing Obama about those conversations. To insist that he had “no contact” when his top aide was involved in so many contacts is precisely the kind of parsing that undermines confidence.

Emphasis mine. Well, it wouldn’t make sense if Team Obama was being pressured by a crooked governor to pay something for a candidate they preferred. But it does make sense if Team Obama is the one that was applying the pressure. If it is true that Team Obama was in contact with Team Blagojevich to pressure Blagojevich to dump his own preference and defer to Team Obama’s directives the whole thing turns around.

Now we have a President-Elect using his Chief of Staff to try and override the power of a Governor to make a senate seat selection. Now we have the quid pro quo responses from an angry governor not gross attempts for bribes, but actually blow back at the strong-arm tactics of a newly elected neophyte to the White House who is abusing authority he doesn’t even yet have.

Team Obama may have been able to dance around a greedy governor asking for gain in return for selecting a preferred senate replacement. But all the over-crafted Obama responses are going to explode in his face if it turns out he was the one who was out of bounds. The President-Elect may make his wishes known, but if he was putting political or financial pressure on a sitting Governor to override his choice for the Senate Obama is going to be truly damaged goods.

I know the pols don’t see the distinction. Nor will the rest of the Political Industrial Complex from the news media, professional political consultants and lobbyists. This is just the dirty underworld of politics.  But to a nation which was promised change to a corrupt-free, vision-driven administration this will be near traitorous. Not only did Obama try to pressure a governor, he lied about the entire affair to the nation many times now. If he was the instigator, how could he or his team have no knowledge? 

This is now a story of a power hungry new president-elect trying to strong arm a governor. This revelation now knits all the news and events surrounding this matter into a coherent context. Obama tried to claim he had no knowledge his Chief of Staff was pressuring a Governor to give up his preferred candidate and use an Obama candidate instead?  That ain’t going to fly.

Willie Brown has good instincts and insights. He is usually right. My guess is this a major domino that just fell right on Team Obama. It does explain their awkward responses to date and why they appear to be so off balance. All indications was there was a ticking time bomb they were trying to deal with. Now that bomb is going off.

Update: These revelations really do change the ‘spin’ coming from the liberal news media on how benign this all was. For example:

The sources add that the report will show Emanuel also had four phone calls with Blagojevich Chief of Staff John Harris. During those conversations, the Senate seat was discussed. The pros and cons of various candidates were reviewed, and the sources say that Emanuel repeatedly reminded Harris that Blagojevich should focus on the message the pick would send about the governor and his administration.

Sources also confirm that Emanuel made the case for picking Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett during at least one of the conversations.  In the course of that conversation, Harris asked if in return for picking Jarrett, “all we get is appreciation, right?”. “Right” Emanuel responded.

With the realization it is Team Obama pressuring Team Blagojevich to drop the Blag choice and go with the Obama choice, these discussions are not so innocent. Context is everything. That “Right” from Emmanuel could be interpreted as ‘do what we want and we will do something for you’.

Addendum: I still cannot get over how bad this really is for Obama, the left and the media. ABC News is trying to spin this as nothing because of the number of calls to whom. But the core problem is that Obama said he had no knowledge of the dealings around the senate seat, yet it is now coming clear the whole purpose of Team Obama’s contacts was to override the Governor’s wishes on that same senate seat. Obama was to govern on ideals, end the politics as usual. He has failed, and that failure will dog is first two years in office in tandem with an economy that will be hurting those on the bottom of the economic ladder, emphasizing how impotent Obama, the left and the media truly are and how hollow their promises of ‘change’ were.

Major Update: Team Obama is now declaring they are not required to provide full disclosure – which means they have something they do not want made public.

But for now, a spokeswoman for President-elect Barack Obama said the transition team was not covered by a public information law that Politico cited in requesting copies of Obama staffers’ emails and notes about Blagojevich’s efforts to fill the Senate seat Obama vacated after winning the presidency.

Asked if the team would voluntarily release the records, the spokeswoman, Stephanie Cutter, was non-committal. “Let’s wait and see what we put out after our internal review,” she told Politico. “I don’t even know if there’s any correspondence to be had, so one step at a time.”

The Obama team would not say whether it would unveil its findings as a written report, a brief press release or a verbal statement, nor whether it would supplement the release with emails, notes or other records sent, received or maintained by the transition team — though that seems unlikely.

Records — particularly emails sent between transition team staffers or between the team and Blagojevich associates — could shed more light on what Obama’s inner circle knew about Blagojevich’s alleged plot, what they thought about it and whether they contacted law enforcement.

This is not going to go away anytime soon. Obama is really turning into a major disappointment.

Update:  Ed Morrissey has an interesting twist on the turf wars between Team Obama, Team Blagojevich and Rahm Emmanuel.

18 responses so far

18 Responses to “Team Obama Was The Side Pressuring For Senate Successor – Not Team Blagojevich”

  1. […] at The Strata-Sphere ties this together with the initial excuse out of the Obama camp: Now the awkwardness of the Obama […]

  2. tarpon says:

    I would think Obama would want someone appointed to his seat who was beholden to him, so he would have a spy on the inside. Keeping track of what was going on with Reid was probably job one.

  3. […] The Stratasphere reveals: “Team Obama Was The Side Pressuring For Senate Successor – Not Team Blagojevich” […]

  4. Neo says:

    Is Fitzgerald screwing with Obama ?

    The new “spin” is that Team Obama was trying to stop Blagojevich from appointing Lisa Madigan to the US Senate. Blagojevich wanted her out of town so she wouldn’t run against him in 2010. With Emanuel speaking more than 20 times with Blagojevich or the governor’s aide John Harris, Obama’s claim of “no contact” no looks pretty darn lame.

    But meanwhile, Fitzgerald’s “spin” of the goings-ons seems to be designed to protect Obama, so is Fitzgerald padding his future ?

  5. ivehadit says:

    Tarpon, the selection of the senator to replace Sen. Obama should be FOR THE GOOD OF THE PEOPLE OF ILLINOIS, NOT for the good of power lusting politicians. S far as I can see Obama, like his support for the hideous Blag, continues to support/surround himself with “ick”.

    This whole affair is more revelation for those who choose to see.

    Barack H.Obama is going to be a poll reader, a facilitator NOT a leader, imho. That is how he has been trained. Perhaps he may mature and see the errors of Saul Alinsky, but I doubt it.

  6. Terrye says:

    Illinois should just have a special election and be done with it. And in Minnesota where that clown Franken might actually win, they should have had a run off.

  7. GuyFawkes says:

    Wow. Just… wow.

    AJ, your desperation to tie a scandal from this to Obama is… well, honestly, it’s kind of sad. I really hate the phrase ” Derangement Syndrome”, but you are a prime case of ODS.

    And Terrye – if you can come up with $50 million, then Illinois can have its special election. Good luck with that in this economy.

  8. AJStrata says:


    Hey, just noted what Democrat Willie Brown reported. Take it up with him!


  9. sbd says:

    Was the Governor trying to tell everyone that the wire taps were going to become the next Watergate due to Obama’s involvement??
    It sure seems that way from a statement he made the day before he was arrested!!

    December 9, 2008 Tuesday 3:30 PM EST

    Illinois Gov. Arrested on Corruption Charges;
    U.S. Attorney Says Blagojevich Went on a Crime Spree

    BYLINE: Alan Greenblatt, Staff Writer,,

    But Blagojevich seems to have been willfully oblivious to the sort of scrutiny he’s been under. Just yesterday, at a press conference he responded to reports that the feds were bugging him this way:

    “If anybody wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it. I appreciate anybody who wants to
    tape me openly and notoriously. And those who feel like they wanna sneakily and wear taping devices, I would remind
    them that it kinda smells like Nixon and Watergate.”


  10. OLDPUPPYMAX says:

    “…not covered by a public information law…” Well isn’t that just charming! “We can’t be forced to tell you anything. We didn’t do anything wrong, but you can’t force us to prove it!” The tragedy is, none of this will get to anyone without a computer or perhaps a radio tuned to Savage or Rush. If a thug can become president without having to be constitutionally qualified, a little scandal like this isn’t likely to do any harm.

  11. Neo says:

    Fitzgerald’s team has scrambled to interview Jackson, as well as members of the Obama transition team who talked with Blagojevich about the appointment.

    “members” ?? Not just Emanuel ??

  12. Redteam says:

    Obama has kinda shot the “change” mantra all to hell, hasn’t he? More ‘politics as usual’.

    Isn’t it strange how all the lefties are trying to sweep this under the carpet, just as if Bush’s team had done it. right?

    Doesn’t that post picture show some domino’s have fallen?

  13. crosspatch says:

    Hey, I was just at the drugstore (Walgreen’s) and they had “official” Obama merchandise for sale. They were Obama hats with “44th President” in them with a little holographic tag stating that the hats were “official” Obama merchandise. So … who “owns” Obama from a marketing standpoint?

  14. sbd says:

    Connections could touch every somebody

    One of the few who isn’t connected to Cellini is the federal prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald.

    The Combine wants Fitzgerald promoted out of town. But President-elect Barack Obama has promised newspaper editorial boards he would keep Fitzgerald in Chicago to fight political corruption.

    That’s the same President-elect Obama with Mayor Daley’s guy Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff, and another Daley guy, David Axelrod, as Obama’s chief strategist. The mayor’s brother Billy is one of Obama’s chief economic advisers. Whew!

    Some political analysts become quite upset when “Daley machine” and “Obama” are mentioned in my column.

    They feel compelled to give me a vigorous corrective. But this same Flat Earth society denied the existence of a Combine for years, then shut up for a while when Obama’s real estate fairy Tony Rezko was convicted in the federal government’s Operation Board Games probe.

    As my father always said, “You become who you hang around”.


  15. […] As I noted this weekend, if Obama was pressuring Blagojevich to push his pick (Jarrett) over Blag’s preferred choice (AG Madigan) then all the horse trading discussions were meant to get Obama’s wishes granted. The quid pro quo’s were being proffered and debated to meet Obama’s requirements. The fact they continued for weeks and went into stealthy options hide the payback through organizations like the SEIU meant Team Obama was open to these discussions.  […]

  16. […] the guise of incoming Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel as one example) was pushing Blagojevich to dump his preferred choice of Illinois AG Lisa Madigan. Obama wanted Valerie Jarrett […]

  17. […] made between highly receptive simpatico telepaths on both sides, or, just maybe, all the “reaching out” came from the Obamessiah side.  Politico has an accounting of some other inconsistencies […]