Court filings in Rod Blagojevich’s corruption case that were improperly redacted show that President Obama and others in the White House lied repeatedly about their contacts with the corrupt ex-governor.
Obama said on December 9, 2008:
I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.
But that same day Jake Tapper noted that on November 23, 2008, David Axelrod had said:
I know he’s talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them.
That led to a hasty denial from the transition team:
An Obama aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, took back David Axelrod’s remark last month that Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich had spoken recently.
“What the president-elect said today is correct, David Axelrod misspoke,” the aide said.
And Axelrod issued a semi-retraction:
I was mistaken when I told an interviewer last month that the President-elect has spoken directly to Governor Blagojevich about the Senate vacancy. They did not then or at any time discuss the subject.
Obama’s initial statement, his staff’s denial, and Axelrod’s retraction are now shown to be lies by court filings obtained by Chicago’s NBC affiliate. Those filings were supposed to be heavily redacted to obscure all the juicy revelations, but the redaction was done improperly. NBC summarizes those revelations:
- Obama may have lied about conversations with convicted fraudster Tony Rezko.
- Obama may have overtly recommended Valerie Jarret for his Senate seat.
- A supporter of President Obama may have offered quid pro quo on a Jarrett senate appointment.
- Obama maintained a list of good Senate candidates.
- Rahm Emanuel allegedly floated Cheryl Jackson’s name for the Senate seat.
- Obama had a secret phone call with Blagojevich.
I find it amazing that Obama ever tried to maintain that he had not talked to Blagojevich about the seat. I find it even more amazing that he tried to maintain he had not talked to Blagojevich at all. Of course he talked to Blagojevich, and of course he talked to him about the seat. It’s inconceivable that he wouldn’t. But I guess he thought that the proof could be kept under wraps, and without proof the matter would go away. It worked until now.
Is it a big deal that the president and his staff lied repeatedly about his contacts with Blagojevich? One would think so. Selling a US Senate seat is a big scandal, even for Chicago, and Obama has placed himself into it. Will it be treated as such? Probably not.