Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Complaint points to clash over Obama adviser

President-elect Obama and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich clashed over whether to appoint a senior Obama adviser to replace him in the Senate, according to a criminal complaint filed with a federal district court.

The adviser at the center of the dispute appears to have been Valerie Jarrett, whom Obama has tapped to serve as White House senior adviser and assistant to the president for intergovernmental relations and public liaison.

When contacted Tuesday, Obama’s transition team said they were not prepared to comment on the complaint just yet.

Obama’s advisers declined to give in to Blagojevich’s demands, prompting angry outbursts from the Illinois governor behind the scenes.

Blagojevich in a conversation intercepted by federal agents calls Obama a “motherf----r” and dismisses Obama’s unwillingness to strike a deal: “F—k him.”

The complaint refers several times to Blagojevich’s effort to win concessions from Obama in exchange for appointing “Senate Candidate 1,” who is described as “an adviser to the President-elect” to Obama’s vacant seat

The complaint also reports that federal agents intercepted a conversation on Nov. 12 between Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris in which “Blagojevich noted that CNN is reporting that Senate Candidate 1 does not want the open Senate seat.”

Two days before, CNN broke a story based on two Democratic sources close to Obama that Jarrett would forgo the Senate and take a job at the White House instead.

A Chicago television station, WLS-TV, reported earlier that Jarrett was Obama’s choice to succeed him in the Senate.

The complaint states that by Nov. 3, “media reports indicated that Senate Candidate 1, an adviser to the president-elect … was likely to be supported by the president-elect.”

Blagojevich sought to use Obama’s preference for Jarrett to gain a variety of concessions from the incoming president.

The complaint states that Blagojevich and his top aide discussed trading the Senate seat for a lucrative private sector job arranged by Obama, such as the head of a foundation dependent on the government.

Blagojevich also discussed the possibility of trading the seat for the position of secretary of Health and Human Services in Obama’s Cabinet.

Blagojevich and Harris also discussed the possibility of Obama pulling strings on his behalf to land him a position with the Service Employees International Union’s Change to Win coalition.

“Unless I get something real good for [Senate Candidate 1], shit, I’ll just send myself, you know what I’m saying.” Blagojevich said in an intercepted conversation. “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain.”

Obama’s unwillingness to trade favors enraged Blagojevich.

“Blagojevich said he knows that the president-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat but ‘they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. F--k them,’” states the report.

Original here

No comments: