By Natasha Korecki and Lark Turner
A newly released transcript shows Rahm Emanuel asked Rod Blagojevich in 2008 to try to find a way to appoint Forrest Claypool to his Congressional post after President-Elect Obama had tapped him to go to the White House.
In the Nov. 8, 2008 call, Emanuel tells Blagojevich in the recorded phone call that he wants Forrest Claypool tapped to fill his position after explaining: "in my interest of, uh, you know, having somebody there you know that doesn't want to make it a lifetime commitment."
At the time, Emanuel was leaving to be White House chief of staff but he was interested in returning to his House seat to possibly rise to Speaker.
Emanuel says that Claypool would only stay in Congress for a couple of years.
"And then he wants to go to the cabinet," Emanuel says on the recorded phone call that was made public this afternoon in a defense filing.
Blagojevich repeatedly tells Emanuel he can't appoint to the post. It's got to be a special election. But Emanuel presses him.
"You would appoint somebody to finish those three weeks," Emanuel says, if he were to leave his position early. "And then he, and then he gets, you know, all we are giving him is three weeks of a head start... it's not like Forest doesn't have a name or anything like that. It gives him a head start and a presumption."
At the end of the excerpt of the call, Emanuel tells Blagojevich: "I will not forget this...
"I appreciate it. That's all I am going to say. I don't want to go, you and I shouldn't go farther."
This precise contents of the call have never been made public before today.
However, the Chicago Sun-Times first reported news of the call in 2009 and, at the time, Emanuel would not comment. Claypool at the time told the Sun-Times he knew nothing of such a request.
Emanuel, now Chicago Mayor, has tapped Claypool to head the CTA.
The call was not played in court today, after prosecutors objected. However, the discussion did come up and Blagojevich said after the conversation, he asked his gubernatorial counsel Bill Quinlan if it were constitutional.
Blagojevich was told he could not appoint to Congress -- even if it were temporary, as Emanuel had asked. An opening requires a special election.
Emanuel refused to answer questions today when asked about asking Blagojevich to make a temporary appointment to his old Congressional seat.
Emanuel again said it took him longer to get to the courthouse and back than it did to testify at the Blagojevich trial and that he's done answering questions about it.