On December 23, when all of us were busy wrapping gifts and preparing for Christmas, the Obama team issued a report exonerating everyone on his team of any wrongdoing in the scandal to sell Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder.
However, the report written by Greg Craig, famous for fighting the Clinton impeachment, raises more questions than it answers. The chief and central question is, "What did Obama know and when did he know it!"
FBI agents arrested the Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, and his Chief of Staff, John Harris, on federal corruption charges. One of the allegations against Blagojevich and Harris is that they were attempting to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder.
Obama and his team immediately shifted into damage control mode -- perhaps too quickly -- and issued an emphatic blanket denial: "I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not -- I was not aware of what was happening."
That was a big mistake. On a par with Bill Clinton's petulant and admonishing denial, "I never had sexual relations with that woman... Ms. Lewinsky."
On November 23, Obama advisor David Axelrod told the Fox News Chicago affiliate that Obama and Gov. Blagojevich had, in fact, spoken about who should fill the remainder of Obama's term in the Senate: "I know he's talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names, many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them."
Oops... Axelrod quickly issued a retraction: "I was mistaken when I told an interviewer last month that the president-elect has spoken directly to Governor Blagojevich about the Senate vacancy. They did not then or at any time discuss the subject."
Federal Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said at the time, "There is no allegation in the complaint that the president-elect was aware of it and that is all I can say."
Nevertheless, it was very clear from the complaint that some people close to Obama were plenty aware.
One section in the complaint concerning the sale of Obama's Senate seat recounts a series of conversations that allegedly took place over a period of days, beginning November 5 (the day after the election -- although Blagojevich's first recorded mention of the matter occurred on November 3), between Blagojevich, his Chief of Staff John Harris; a Washington based consultant on Team Obama, known only as "Advisor B;" and later, Blagojevich's wife; an Service Employees International Union (SEIU) official and various others.