December 23rd, 2008
06:35 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama interviewed by feds in Illinois corruption probe

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The President-elect was interviewed by feds for possible involvement in the Gov. Blagojevich scandal."]
(CNN) - An internal report compiled by the Obama transition team states that President-elect Barack Obama was interviewed by the office of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald as part of Fitzgerald's criminal probe into embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Obama was interviewed last Thursday. Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett was interviewed Friday, and incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was interviewed Saturday.

The report, drafted by Greg Craig, Obama's choice for White House counsel, concludes that neither Obama nor his aides - including Emanuel - had any "inappropriate" contact with Blagojevich or Blagojevich's staff.

The report states that there is "no indication of inappropriate discussions with the governor or anyone from his office about a 'deal' or a quid pro quo arrangement in which he would receive a personal benefit in return for any specific appointment to fill the vacancy."

The report concludes Obama himself had no "contact or communication with Governor Blagojevich or members of his staff about the Senate seat."

Emanuel, according to the report, had "one or two telephone calls with Governor Blagojevich" between November 6 and 8. Emanuel discussed the merits of "various people whom the governor might consider (for Obama's Senate seat)."

Emanuel - "with the authorization of the president-elect - gave (Blagojevich Chief of Staff John) Harris the names of four individuals whom the president-elect considered to be highly qualified: Dan Hynes, Tammy Duckworth, Congresswoman (Jan) Schakowsky and Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr."

FBI agents arrested Blagojevich on December 9 after federal prosecutors alleged, among other things, that he had tried to "sell" Obama's former Senate seat. It is the sole authority of the Illinois governor to name a successor who would serve the remaining two years of Obama's term.

Twelve percent of Americans questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Monday said Obama's aides did something illegal, while another 36 percent felt Obama's aides didn't act illegally but did do something unethical.

Forty-three percent said none of Obama's aides did anything seriously wrong.

soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Retired Army in San Antonio


    Right Wingers are busily wringing their hands and trying to come up with SOMETHING on Obama.

    Bottom line (in this case) is that the U.S. Attorney has tapes of Blago's conversations. If the Obama Team had done anything unethical.....well.....their responses would've taken a different tone from the start.

    But you Right Wingers keep right on tryin'. I'm sure Obama's done something! maybe......he pulled wings of a fly when he was eight.

    December 23, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  2. Well...

    we all knew there was contact...duh?! And for all I care let the evil Obama attackers continue on...they won't stop and will use ANYTHING reported to twist and fulfill their fanatasies of who they think he might be; of course rooted in their racist, neo-con, ignorant, republican, or otherwise twisted minds.

    So, I for one, will work with PE Obama to bring this United States of America back from the brink of disaster. I am excited for the next four years and believe that this is an ethical leader. One who understands human rights, the constitution, needs of working people, and the need for diversity in thought, people, and action. By the way, the racists, neo-cons, ignorant, republicans, or otherwise twisted minded will benefit as well. Unlike them, Obama nor I discriminate and disavow based on beliefs or fear.

    I felt it again the other day as he and his familly stepped off the plane in Hawaii and he was carrying is own bags as were the family. How much better does it get.

    He did not have any inappropriate contact. End of story for me.

    December 23, 2008 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  3. Peggy

    I am laughing when I read comments, I am a foreigner living outside the USA.
    Don't Americans know that there is NOT one CLEAN politician or President ON EARTH. It simply doesn't exist. You people from the USA are always looking for THE PERFECT, SPOTLESS, ANGEL LIKE POLITICIAN. Grow up.

    December 23, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  4. Krc11

    The Federal Prosecutor has interviewed Obama because, at least according to the wiretaps from the FBI affidavit, bribes were being offered to Blago, and he was going to take them. Obama & his staff are suspected of offering up these bribes, or else they would not be questioning him with his lawyer present.

    December 23, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  5. vs

    leave this guy alone he has nothing to do with this

    December 23, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  6. Krc11

    Well, the FBI sure seems to think they were involved. Anyone who has actually read the FBI affidavit can see at the very least it appears a position with the SEIU was offered as a bribe to Blago.

    December 23, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  7. Iowa Mom


    Really? So if Obama and staff were suspected of bribery, then why did the attorney gen say there is no implications against Obama? You are just making stuff up now.

    December 23, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  8. Lost in Texas FOREVER!!

    Until their "GODS" Rush and Hannity say all is clear, the far right neo cons are still going think Obama is guilty of SOMETHING, I mean they have to ,he can't skate and make a liar out of Rush and can he??

    It must be pretty bad to be so bitter and have nothing but ill will for our new president. So much for helping to unite the country.

    December 23, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  9. Marc PTD

    Uh Oh! That didn't take long....

    December 23, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  10. Sue

    This reminds me of the frantic Republican thugs trying to bring down Clinton (and all they could get him on was a blow job in his office.) Can they not get something important done, like impeaching Bush and getting at least an iota of accountability from the current criminals in the White House? Bet the "evil twin" theory appears tomorrow!

    December 23, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  11. Tess

    I appreciate the fact that Obama and his staff interviewed with Fitzgerald. If they had done something illegal, "Eliot Ness" would have surely nailed them and the Obama report would not have been released as is.

    Repubs need to move on or else, the level of on-going, self-inflicted angst and stress will surely debilitate you guys.

    December 23, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  12. Randolph

    I do believe that this is a wake up call for PE Obama. Otherwise, he could end up like Bill Clinton. I mean the way Bill was humiliated by Ken Starr for something that didn’t have any negative impact to American lives. At the same time, politicians who have put Americans lives in real hardship are fine.
    We don't see any criminal investigation for people who are really destroying our economy and our lives.
    In this case, I would say that Governor Blagojevich could get money for that seat, and it would not affect American lives even if it were not a good thing to do.
    Any of the contenders could give money to the governor for the seat, and it would not affect American lives although it is wrong. We already have very bad Senators who have been working for especial interest group and against regular people.
    Instead of attacking Governor Blagojevich, Democrats should question the real motive of this investigation. They should protect themselves against any future "lynch mob", as said Blagojevich.
    If the governor were a Republican, it would be one day news.

    December 23, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  13. Polly

    There was a time when "The Government of Christ" was read in order that this country be built upon God's principles. Pretty amazing.
    People don't want to mix religion and politics. I don't want to see anymore Hollywood and politics. These days our big problems have become about big money. We are "waist deep in a big muddy."

    December 23, 2008 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  14. Polly

    Hope will always remain. God knows we need a good leader.

    December 23, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  15. Krc11

    Iowa mom,

    You should actually try reading the affidavit before spouting off your ignorance. The FBI said at that time Obama was not the "target" of the Blago investigation. I think an Obama staffer is going to take a fall, and the Illinois governor is a bigger fish than an Obama staffer. Target = Blago. Fallout = Obama staffer.

    December 23, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  16. Dan, FL

    I think Barack has to answer some questions for sure. He is hiding something. He is a liar.

    December 23, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  17. John from LA

    BO and all his staff are dirty, dirty, dirty-Chicago politics at its BEST!-and for most of you who haven't followed politics as long as some of us-just wait and see!

    And by the way-I'm an Independent-not a repub. as all the bots will say-remember-follow the $$$!-It is our job to look critically at the PE-he WORKS for me and YOU!!!!

    December 23, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
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