Blago trial: What exactly did Obama know about the Senate seat trade? 

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

John Harris, Blagojevich’s former chief of staff, testified Wednesday in the former governor’s corruption trial that three days after the Nov. 4, 2008, presidential election, the ex-governor told Harris he felt confident Obama knew he wanted to swap perks.

“The president understands that the governor would be willing to make the appointment of Valerie Jarrett as long as he gets what he’s asked for. . . . The governor gets the Cabinet appointment he’s asked for,” Harris said, explaining a recorded call.

Harris said Blagojevich came away believing Obama knew what he wanted after having a conversation with a local union representative, who in turn spoke with labor leader Tom Balanoff, with whom Blagojevich met to discuss a Jarrett appointment. Jarrett, now a White House adviser, was seeking the appointment to Obama’s Senate seat.

Defense lawyers say Harris’ testimony contradicts the government’s previous public statements that Obama knew nothing about deal-making involving the Senate seat appointment…Obama’s 2008 internal report about his staff’s contacts with Blagojevich at the time indicates that Balanoff relayed to Jarrett that Blagojevich was interested in a Health and Human Services Cabinet post.

Blagojevich’s exact words on Jarrett, from the tape:

“So she now knows she could be a senator if I get Health and Human Services.”

This is already a bit disgusting — a soon-to-be White House advisor like Jarrett jockeying to be appointed to the Senate, and a president-elect receiving demands from the appointer via union intermediaries. But whatever Obama’s level of knowledge, there’s no smoking gun in his hand. He picked Tom Daschle for HHS on Nov. 19, three weeks before the governor’s arrest and more than two weeks before the Chicago Tribune broke the story that the FBI was listening to Blagojevich’s calls.

About The Author

David Freddoso

Bio:
David Freddoso came to the Washington Examiner in June 2009, after serving for nearly two years as a Capitol Hill-based staff reporter for National Review Online. Before writing his New York Times bestselling book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he spent three years assisting Robert Novak, the legendary Washington... more
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