What Did Obama Know of Blago's Selling of Senate Seat And When Did He Know It?

The National Republican Committee wants to know the answer to a few questions…

Once again the exculpatory memo issued by the President-elect’s lawyer, Greg Craig, in December of 2008 is finding itself in conflict with testimony coming out of the Blagojevich Trial in Chicago. First we learned through the testimony of SEIU boss Tom Balanoff that President Obama actually played an active role in promoting Valerie Jarrett as a candidate for his old seat, despite no mention of that in the memo. Now we are learning of another call, this time by Rahm Emanuel that violated Obama’s supposed neutrality policy and again failed to be reported by Craig. Here are a couple of questions for a White House that clearly wants to avoid this topic:

1) How do explain the inconsistencies between Craig’s memo, which said “the President-Elect had ruled out communicating a preference” and John Wyma’s testimony that he received a call from Rahm Emanuel with a message from the President-Elect?

2) How do you explain the reoccurring pattern of omitted or inaccurate information included in the memo, in this case the call from Emanuel to Wyma, and how does that reflect on the veracity of the document as a whole?

Memo from Greg Craig, Incoming White House Counsel (12/23/08)(Download .PDF):

“In those early conversations with the Governor, Mr. Emanuel recommended Valarie Jarrett because he knew she was interested in the seat. He did so before learning — in further conversations with the President-Elect — that the President-Elect had ruled out communicating a preference for any one candidate. As noted above, the President-Elect believed it appropriate to provide the names of multiple candidates to be considered, along with others, who were qualified to hold the seat and able to retain it in a future election.”

Witness: Rahm Emanuel asked me to call Blagojevich to say President Elect Barack Obama wanted Valerie Jarrett

Chicago Sun-Times
Sarah Ostman
July 13, 2010

When Valerie Jarrett was still in contention for the Senate seat in early November 2008, Rahm Emanuel called longtime Rod Blagojevich friend John Wyma.

Emanuel wanted Wyma to deliver a message to Blagojevich.

Wyma, a state lobbyist, just testified that Emanuel told him to call Blagojevich and express something on behalf of the President-Elect.

“He said the President-Elect would value and appreciate Valerie Jarrett in the Senate seat,” Wyma said.

Wyma said he then tried to call Blagojevich at home but “missed him.”

He then called Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris.

Wyma said he passed on Emanuel’s message.

“I told him it would make sense to have Valerie as a pick,” Wyma said.

Harris told him he would give the message “unabridged and unedited” to the then-governor.

The significance here is Wyma had been cooperating with the government for several weeks. He made a call on Emanuel’s behalf at the time that the then-Governor was hoping to get something in return for the Senate seat. The week before that phone call, Blagojevich had expressed his interest in a cabinet position in exchange for the Senate seat.

While the prosecution played a recording of Robert Blagojevich’s call to Wyma asking for funds from Children’s Memorial Hospital, Wyma admitted to attorney Michael Ettinger that he didn’t know whether Robert Blagojevich also knew that the hospital was at the same time seeking state monies.

Now Blagojevich’s lawyer, Sheldon Sorosky is questioning Wyma: “You don’t mind if I call you John, do you?

Wyma: “Do you mind if I call you Shelly?” He says to much laughter in the courtroom.

Sorosky: “Not at all.”

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