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Trib: Rahm and Blagojevich Discussed Senate Seat

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Dec 13, 2008 5:45PM

2008_12_13_rahmblago.jpgThis morning, the Chicago Tribune had an answer for President-Elect Barack Obama as to whether or not any of his staff talked to Gov. Rod Blagojevich about filling in Obama's vacant senate seat: yes and it was Rahm Emanuel. While the Tribune's story is careful to point out that Rahm and Blago's chats do not at all implicate Rahm, Obama, or anyone else in the Obama Administration as a participant in Balgo's pay-to-play scheme, it does raise questions about how much Rahm - who's been the source of a shit-ton of speculation this week - might or might not have known about the entire plan.

One source confirmed that communications between Emanuel and the Blagojevich administration were captured on court-approved wiretaps.

Another source said that contact between the Obama camp and the governor's administration regarding the Senate seat began the Saturday before the Nov. 4 election, when Emanuel made a call to the cell phone of Harris. The conversation took place around the same time press reports surfaced about Emanuel being approached about taking the high-level White House post should Obama win.

Emanuel delivered a list of candidates who would be "acceptable" to Obama, the source said. On the list were Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, Illinois Veterans Affairs director Tammy Duckworth, state Comptroller Dan Hynes and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Chicago, the source said. All are Democrats.

Sometime after the election, Emanuel called Harris back to add the name of Democratic Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan to the approved list, the source said.

Okay, so far, it makes sense and gels with everything we read in the federal complaint against Blagojevich. For her part, Rep. Schakowsky - who has already said she'd run for the Senate seat if a special election is called - said of Obama's interest in replacing himself, "It makes perfect sense for the president-elect or his people to have some interaction about filling the seat he was vacating."

What remains to be seen is exactly how far the discussions went between Rahm and Blago. As we mentioned on Tuesday, the day of Blago's arrest, some media outlets were reporting sources claimed Rahm went to the Feds about Blagojevich, a very plausible scenario. After all, with his history of work on the federal level under the Clinton administration, one has to think that Rahm knew better than to discuss something like a pay-to-play scheme over the phone. Say what you will about political views, agree or disagree: Rahm seems like a much, much sharper knife than our lego-haired governor. And we do know that the Obama administration rebuked Blago, leading to one of our favorite outbursts listed in the complaint:

ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to "suck it up" for two years and do nothing and give this "motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him." (pg 63)
Either way, if it's on tape, we should know soon.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite