Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Obama Chief of Staff Emanuel ducks whether he was Blagojevich emissary

| 32 Comments

By FRAN SPIELMAN AND ABDON PALLASCH

Sun-Times Reporters
CHICAGO--President-elect Barack Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, refused to take questions from reporters this morning about whether he was the Obama "advisor" named in the criminal complaint against Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The complaint states Blagojevich wanted a promise of a high-level appointment or some other reward for Blagojevich in exchange for Blagojevich naming Obama's friend Valerie Jarrett to replace him in the U.S. Senate.

Emanuel was uncharacteristically absent from Obama's news conference this morning. He was spotted two hours later in the lobby of Chicago's City Hall. He was there to listen to his two children performing in a concert with their school, Anshe Emet.

A Sun-Times reporter pressed him to comment about whether he was the emissary named in the criminal complaint.

"You're wasting your time," Emanuel said. "I'm not going to say a word to you. I'm going to do this with my children. Dont do that. I'm a father. I have two kids. I'm not going to do it."

Asked, "Can't you do both?" Emanuel replied, "I'm not as capable as you. I'm going to be a father. I'm allowed to be a father," and he pushed the reporter's digital recorder away.


Blagojevch was caught on tape saying that he wanted the Obama advisor in question to know what Blagojevich wanted in exchange for the Jarrett appointment.

Blagojevich said, "He asks me for the fifth CD thing, I want it to be in his head." Emanuel represents the 5th Congressional District in Illinois.

No one in the Obama campaign or administration has been charged with any wrongdoing. Obama said this morning that none of his staff has had a hand in any dealmaking on his Senate replacement.

32 Comments

And so it goes,corruption crosses party boundries while you republicans will name call democrats and vice versa. When will you people ever learn? Ron Paul was your chance for a change.

This is a non-story. What has emerged so far is that the Obama team made no accommodations to Blagojevich.

Someone probably had to deal with the governor. Perhaps that someone was Emanuel. But a story like this--"ducks"--is just idle harrassment.

Isn't it amazing how these fetid liberals are too imperious and arrogant to answer questions from the public (i.e., their employers). Isn't it equally ironic how this leftist is suddenly a "father" when it suits his purposes.

Your reporter was way out of line. (I would use more 'colorful' language, but I don't want to give the S-T any reason to censor this comment.) Emmanuel has the right to attend a function for his children without having a reporter shove a microphone in his face. That's not "ducking" a question. The Sun-Times should issue an apology to Emmanuel and invite him appropriately to comment.

If a reprter wanted to ask Rahm Emmanuel a question did he really have to ambush him at his kids' holiday concert?

All this stalking of public / famous people is truly disgusting.

Impeach OBAMA now!

public servants are on-duty 24X7 and accountable during the same time period to the taxpayers. That includes reporters who ask viable and pertinent questions. It all goes with the job, if you choose to work in public service, be ready for the heat in the kitchen. He obviously is avoiding talking about a subject which will make his new boss's earlier statements false...

All you Emanuel / Obama apologists:

Consider, would not a simple "No, it was not me. No further comment", have sufficed?

Had he said that, and then pushed the recorder away, I'd see nothing suspicious. But this... ? Come on, be just a little objective.

The Sun-Times should be ashamed out itself. Maybe if you exhibited some professionalism and journalistic integrity, you wouldn't be thought of as a tabloid paper. Millions of people have lost their jobs and homes, but you're not reporting on these issues. You'd rather interrupt Emmanuel's children's concert. What a disgrace.

I THINK THE CHIEF OF STAFF HAS A RIGHT TO SAY
WHAT HE SAID, HE SHOULDN'T BE PUT ON THE SPOT IF
FRONT OF HIS CHILDREN!
SOME OF YOU ARE STILL STUCK ON STUPID!
THE GOV IS THE ONE ON THOSE TAPES TALKING STUPID
NOT THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION!
THAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND ME, I'M
CONSISTENT, SOME OF YOU DON'T WANT THE MAN TO
BE PRESIDENT, BUT GUESS WHAT, THE ELECTION IS
OVER, THE VOTES HAVE BEEN COUNTED, GET ON WITH
YOUR LIVES, AND TRY TO TREAT PEOPLE LIKE YOU WANT
TO BE TREATED!
STOP PLAYIN GOTCHA, THE PRESIDENT-ELECT IS THE
BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO THIS COUNTRY IN A LONG
TIME!

If he was attending a function for his children he had every right to refuse comment. that wasn't the right place or time for business. these people are entitled to their personal time too. I wouldn't have been so nice in my comments if it had been me. Reporters need to be very careful as to not cross that line into paparazzi stalker type behaviour.

No answer is also an answer! What is Emanuel hiding? If you are in the public eye and are the White House Chief of Staff for the new administration you have greater responsibilities than "average father". This nation are your kids, too! Take a couple minutes and answer the media's questions! Unless it is true and the marketing gurus in the Obama campaign are working on a new strategy on how to overcome this "faux pas".


The fact that this blabbermouth has nothing to say, says everything. I think Rahm will be the first Obama appointee to fall, and it will happen before the inauguration.

Let the Obama scandals begin!

TrueAmerican-
I saw the same ignorant comment from you on the tribune's website this morning..
GET OVER IT! BARACK HUSEIN OBAMA IS THE PRESIDENT! SUCK IT UP AND DEAL WITH IT!

You calling for his impeachment does nothing. Obama did NOTHING WRONG! You that? If not, how about I let the U.S. Attorney investigating this matter explain it...

Dec 9 press conference:
Q You spoke before about if Senator -- you didn't know -- no awareness that Senator or President-elect Barack Obama knew about this. So is it safe to say he has not been briefed? And can you also tell us if any phone calls were made to President-elect Obama that you intercepted, or to Rahm Emanuel?

MR. FITZGERALD: Okay. I'm not going to go down anything that's not in the complaint.

And what I simply said before is, I'm not going to -- I have enough trouble speaking for myself. I'm not going to try and speak in the voice of a president or a president-elect.

So I simply pointed out that if you look at the complaint, there's no allegation that the president-elect -- there's no reference in the complaint to any conversations involving the president-elect or indicating that the president-elect was aware of it. And that's all I can say.

Here is the link to the transcript:
http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2008/12/fitzgerald_press_conference_on.html

There are the facts... I know you right-wingers don't like FACTS... but it is what it is!

Here's a tip: if you want to avoid reporters, avoid fame. Not only does Emmanuel hold a PUBLIC OFFICE, he's also self-consciously flamboyant and controversial. No sympathy- just answer the question.

That's pretty tacky to go to his kids' school X-mas concert...

Rahm is a hottie in more ways than one!

Rahm is a hottie in more ways than one!

Hey markm, have you not been paying attention for the last 8 years? The George W Bush team are the leaders of stonewalling questions. Or is is just easier for you to sleep at night when you blame "liberals" for exactly what the Bush administration has been doing. Wake up!!!

Will somebody explain to me why Rahm Emmanuel could not simply set a time to meet with the reporter and yes "do both"...i.e. be a parent and answer some simple queries about an associate in a big scandal.. as the reporter suggested?

It gives the appearance that there is something to hide...why does Emmanuel need days to tell us briefly what happened here?

This kind of angry evasion is not going to work as a strategy for dealing with the public and press, and I certainly hope we are not going to see a lot of this.

Has the Sun-Times lost all sense of decency?

Uh, the "kids holiday concert" was in City Hall, where dozens of reporters go to work everyday.

But thanks for swallowing Rahm's victim ploy whole.

Poor Rahm, who's steamrolled over so many in his path over the years, it must be heartbreaking for a man who admires himself so much.

He'll be sacrificed. He'll never make it to the White House. Obama will be better off.

Uh, the "kids holiday concert" was in City Hall, where dozens of reporters go to work everyday.

But thanks for swallowing Rahm's victim ploy whole.

Poor Rahm, who's steamrolled over so many in his path over the years, it must be heartbreaking for a man who admires himself so much.

He'll be sacrificed. He'll never make it to the White House. Obama will be better off.

If Emanuel tried to do a deal with the gov, the Pres elect should sack him NOW! Too much Chicago garbage will pollute his administration overnight, and the cancer will spread worldwide.

I remember it from the inside out in the old 60s and 70s days. Looks like not much has changed. Obama, some advice. Be very wary of those who you rely upon from Chicago. I was there before you, and I know it as well as anyone.

That reporter just has bad home training and deserved to be ignored. There is a time and place for everything.

The truth will come out Blago-Gate is just heating up.

Do not try to question a guy with his kids at a holiday concert and then accuse him of 'ducking.' shame on you!

Yes "Mirror on the wall" we have had 8 years of dodging questions from the White House, do you want 4 more? I for one am tired of elected officials and their appointee acting as if we work for them. We have a Right to answers and not just the ones they feel like answering. If we have credibility problems take care of them now, don't wait till it brings down the President Elect.
Everytime I hear a politician say how honest he/she is I know we're looking at a liar. Honest people don't have to profess how honest they are, it's only the corrupt that have anything to worry about. #1 is trying to keep all their lies straight.

robert bluejacket wrote:
Pressure grew on two of Barack Obama’s closest political aides yesterday as new details emerged of the “pay-for-play” allegations against the Governor of his home state.

Rahm Emanuel, the President-elect’s new Chief of Staff, and Jesse Jackson Jr, the co-chairman of his presidential campaign, both faced new revelations about their possible involvement in the scandal.

Fox News Chicago reported that Mr Emanuel, a Chicago politician who won the Illinois Governor’s former congressional seat, may have been captured on FBI wire-taps discussing the fate of Mr Obama’s vacated US Senate seat with Rod Blagojevich.

The TV station said Mr Emanuel had “multiple conversations” with the Governor, who is accused of trying to “sell” the open Senate seat for a Cabinet post or lucrative top foundation job. The report said the Governor was given a list of Senate candidates acceptable to Mr Obama. Because the FBI was secretly taping Mr Blagojevich in recent weeks, Mr Emanuel’s conversations may have been recorded, Fox News Chicago said.

Any recordings of the newly appointed White House Chief of Staff speaking to Mr Blagojevich about Mr Obama’s former Senate seat would prove an acute embarrassment to the incoming Obama Administration, even if no illegal deals were discussed, and could even force Mr Emanuel’s resignation. Mr Obama has promised to release details of any contacts between his staff and the Governor’s office but told a news conference on Thursday that he was “absolutely certain” that none of his aides was involved in any deal-making.


"The report said the Governor was given a list of Senate candidates acceptable to Mr Obama."

The Great Obama said in his news confernce that the Illinois Senator seat belonged to the people of Illinois. Yet. Mr. Obama presented a list of candidates that he found acceptable to the Governor.

What hubris on the part of the Great Obama.

"The seat belongs to the public as long as I approve."

Shall I say disgusting?

Do I hear a second?

I'll second that.
Also, prevention is better than any cure...

Oh why oh why a psychological evaluation isn't required in order to run for any public office (especially in Illinois)absolutley boggles the mind..

Not all corruption but I would bet a majority of this political corruption nonsense can be prevented by a simple psychological test and thus save alot of taxpayer money from having to eventually prosecute these immoral beings who are just doing what comes natural to them.

I think this whole thing with Blago has left a bad taste in everyone's mouth, along with a suspicion that this kind of backroom politics is a lot more widespread than people wanted to believe.

Obama's transition team has dropped the ball in it's response, whether anyone in it did anything wrong or not. Obama refuses to comment when first asked, Axlerod makes an unlikely assertion that information that he himself volunteered about the campaign having contact Blago a month ago just got pulled out of thin air and never really happened, and lastly, Ram Emanuel who was the most likely to have had contact with Blago and has been attached at the hip with Obama suddenly disappears. Then when he's found days later, his common demeanor of arrogance turns to one of jelly. They could do a much better job of handling this and quelling fears. The image their portraying is one of guilt, whether it's true or not.

Kudos to the reporter who decided to be the first to ask the Obama camp a hard question. Reporters need to start asking hard questions and Obama's people need to learn how to answer them.

IT ISN'T PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA'S RESPONSIBILITY
TO MAKE A REMARK ABOUT THIS CRAZYNESS!
YOU DIDN'T SEE BUSH MAKING REMARKS ABOUT SCOOTER
LIBBY DID YA!
STOP WITH THE DOUBLE STANDARDS, IT WON'T PLAY
WITH ME OR ANYONE ELSE!
THE GOV PUT HIS FOOT IN HIS MOUTH, NOW HE NEEDS
A MIRACLE TO GET IT OUT!

If Rahm had been asked a question that he liked does anyone really believe that he wouldn't have taken the time to answer it? Hiding behind his kids is a despicable thing to do.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on December 12, 2008 7:12 AM.

Axelrod says Obama never pushed Jarrett for Senate at Harvard Institute of Politics election post morteum was the previous entry in this blog.

Gov. Sunshine; the 2002 Chicago Magazine Carol Felsenthal Blagojevich profile is the next entry in this blog.

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