Is Rahm Emanuel in trouble?
Not legal trouble, mind you. But the Chicago Sun Times is reporting that Rahmbo’s contacts with Blagojevich over Obama’s senate seat are much more extensive than either Obama or Emanuel have led us to believe.
President-elect Barack Obama’s incoming chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was pushing for Obama’s successor just days after the Nov. 4 election, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Emanuel privately urged Gov. Blagojevich’s administration to appoint Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett, and the Sun-Times learned Tuesday that he also pressed that it be done by a certain deadline.
Jarrett was initially interested in the U.S. Senate post before Obama tapped her to be a White House senior adviser, sources say.
The disclosure comes days after Obama’s camp downplayed Jarrett’s interest in the post.
At one point, an “emissary” who said he represented Jarrett had discussions with Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris and the governor about naming Jarrett to the post, according to a criminal complaint.
In addition to the discussions, Emanuel submitted a list of names of candidates suitable to the Obama team to the governor’s administration. Jarrett was not among those names because she had pulled herself out of the running at that point, a source with the Obama camp said.
The Sun Times also printed a rumor picked up by the inconsistent Michael Sneed that Emanuel was on 21 of the taped conversations made by the Feds. That could mean almost anything. It could mean that other topics were discussed between the two besides the senate seat. It could also mean that Emanuel kept calling Blago back urging him to make up his mind already and appoint one of the approved candidates. Of course, it could also mean that Emanuel was negotiating something with Blago. We’ll have to wait to find out if Emanuel even addresses the substance of his conversations with Blago.
There has always been one curious angle to the Jarrett for senate story. According to Jim Lindgren’s timeline culled from the criminal complaint, Obama let it be known on the weekend of November 8-9 that his choice to replace him was Jarrett. On Monday the 10th, Blago had a conference call with several advisors and perhaps even the “emissary” noted above where he discussed several scenarios that would enrich himself by selling the senate seat. (By this time, anyone involved in the negotiations could see that Blagojevich was seeking monetary considerations in return for the seat.)
That very night – November 10 – Obama named Jarrett to his White House staff. As Lindgren points out:
The likeliest scenario is that one of the many participants in Blagojevich’s Monday phone calls either floated his plans to the Obama transition team to assess their response or tipped off the Obama camp about the reckless ideas that Blagojevich had planned.
In any event, within hours of Blagojevich substantially expanding his circle of confidants, the Obama camp withdrew Jarrett’s name from consideration and attributed that withdrawal to the President’s wanting Jarrett in the White House. And the Obama staffers went out of their way to depict this as Obama’s choice, rather than Jarrett’s, which would have been more common. The report claims Obama’s involvement in the decision and suggests a direct effort to undercut the idea that Obama was pressuring Blagojevich to appoint Jarrett.
It could be coincidence that Obama pulled Jarrett out of a prickly ethical situation and the two events may not even be connected. What the two timelines suggest however, is that Obama either knew or suspected that Blago was trying to sell the seat and, to his credit, wanted no part of it.
This raises the equally troubling question if he knew, why didn’t he inform the authorities? This is the real exposure of the Obama camp to trouble; the idea that they are a lot less “transparent” than they are bragging they are. And the problem for Emanuel is that he may have listened to Blago’s attempted bribes and did nothing to inform Fitzgerald.
Would it be enough to cost Emanuel his job? The fact that he is not speaking to the press suggests that it is that serious.