My Sun-Times colleagues Natasha Korecki and Fran Spielman in a story in the Thusday paper report Rahm Emanuel's involvement in pushing Gov. Blagojevich to appoint Valerie Jarrett to replace President elect Barack Obama was deeper than previously known.
BY NATASHA KORECKI
Chicago Sun-Times Federal Courts Reporter
CHICAGO--President-elect Barack Obama's incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel had a deeper involvement in pressing for a U.S. Senate seat appointment than previously reported, the Sun-Times has learned. Emanuel had direct discussions about the seat with Gov. Blagojevich, who is is accused of trying to auction it to the highest bidder.
Emanuel talked with the governor in the days following the Nov. 4 election and pressed early on for the appointment of Valerie Jarrett to the post, sources with knowledge of the conversations told the Sun-Times. There was no indication from sources that Emanuel brokered a deal, however.
A source with the Obama camp strongly denied Emanuel spoke with the governor directly about the seat, saying Emanuel only spoke with Blagojevich once recently to say he was taking the chief of staff post.
But sources with knowledge of the investigation said Blagojevich told his aides about the calls with Emanuel and sometimes gave them directions afterward. Sources said that early on, Emanuel pushed for the appointment of Jarrett to the governor and his staff and asked that it be done by a certain date.
At least some of the conversations between Emanuel and Blagojevich were likely caught on tape, sources said.
After Jarrett took herself out of the running in mid-November, Emanuel submitted a list of suitable names to the governor's camp that didn't include her name.
Emanuel, who has refused to comment on the issue, is not accused of wrongdoing.
In portions of conversations released in a criminal complaint against Blagojevich, he can be heard complaining that Obama wouldn't give anything in return for a Jarrett appointment.
Contributing: Fran Spielman