The corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in a Chicago federal courtroom reached the White House on Tuesday, touching on a potential contradiction over whether then President-elect Obama was involved in choosing his replacement.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked at Tuesday's briefing to confirm testimony from SEIU leader Tom Balanoff. Balanoff said he had a phone conversation with then President-elect Obama about appointing Valerie Jarrett to the Senate seat he vacated when he was elected.
From the briefing....
Q Tom Balanoff is a local labor leader in Chicago and in testimony today at the Blagojevich trial he talks about a phone call that he got from Barack Obama on Monday evening before the Tuesday election, at which he quotes Mr. Obama as saying that he thinks Valerie Jarrett should be a United States senator, that she fits the criteria; "I would prefer that she remain working for President Obama, but she does want to be Senator." And Balanoff said he told the soon-to-be President, "I said, 'Thank you, I'm going to reach out to Governor Blagojevich with that.'" Did the President make that phone call?
MR. GIBBS: You're telling me about this testimony. I'm not going to get into commenting on obviously an ongoing trial. And I have had not had an opportunity to see that.
Q But you've said before that the President did not get involved with the suggestions or the conversations with Blagojevich.
MR. GIBBS: Ann, I'm just not going to get into commenting on an ongoing trial.