Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Unanswered questions for President-Elect Obama in Hawaii, Rahm Emanuel in Africa and Greg Craig and Robert Gibbs in their undisclosed locations.

Although this reporter was on the telephone call press conference call yesterday afternoon with Robert Gibbs and Greg Craig, he was not “called on,” to ask his questions, so he will ask them here. Seven other reporters were called on during the presser, including Weisman from the WSJ, Vogel from Politico, Mitchell of NBC, Allen of CQ, a reporter from AOL News, Goldman from Bloomberg and Youngman from the Hill.

The big unasked question at yesterday’s Team Obama presser

The affidavit filed with the criminal complaint against Governor Blagojevich on December 9, 2008 makes clear that Team Blagojevich got the strong “impression,” if not actually told by Team Obama, that Team Obama would only give “appreciation,” for Valeria Jarrett’s selection by Team Blago as Obama’s replacement in the U. S. Senate. Indeed, Blagojevich made quite clear, according to the affidavit, that he wanted much more than Obama’s “Bleeping,” “appreciation,” for Jarrett’s or anyone else’s selection to replace Obama in the Senate seat.

Yet, through-out Greg Craig’s four page report, and one page cover memo, White House Counsel designate Craig makes clear that he discovered, from his interviews and investigation, no perception by Team Obama of an expectation or a request by Team Blago of a quid pro quo or personal benefit for Governor Blagojevich in return for making an appointment to the Senate.

In light of that, does White House Counsel designate Craig have any understanding of why or how team Blago got the impression that Team Obama was even offering its “Bleeping,” “appreciation,” and no more, for the appointment of Jarrett to the U. S. Senate.

Team Obama’s Pre-Presser Selected list of desirable media

That seems to be the Big Question that leaps out at any reader of the Greg Craig report. It was on this reporter’s list of questions to ask, if called upon, by Craig and Gibbs. None of the other reporters who were called upon chose to ask it. The questions asked tended to be less big theme focused, as have been the questions asked at the President Elect’s pressers by the “Pre-Presser Selected list of questioners,” at each President-Elect Obama press conference.

The big question, referenced above, was also raised by Karl Rove with John Kasich, who was subbing for O’Reilly on the FNC's O"Reilly Factor last night. But, it was not raised by WTTW’s Elizabeth Brackett, who was interviewed by PBS’s docile News Hour. According to Brackett, the Greg Craig report could be pretty much the end of the issue.

MSNBC and PBS, still in the tank for Team Obama?

The quite Left of Center Cable pundits, like MSNBC’s Maddow and PBS’s News Hour, seemed to think, last night, the issue is over. The right of center analysts, like those on Fox, seemed to understand that the report was generated by Team Obama, not the U. S. Attorney’s office, and therefore might be a bit biased.

On the other hand, to be fair, The Team Obama Craig report, and its contributors: Emanuel, Axelrod, President-Elect Obama, Jarrett and Whitaker all have a stronger incentive than usual to be reasonably accurate, as they know some, or all, of their conversations that occurred with Team Blago in late October, November and December, may have been bugged by the U. S. Attorney’s office.

U. S. Attorney questions Obama, Jarrett and Emanuel?

Further, Obama, Jarrett and Emanuel were interviewed by the U. S. Attorney’s office, presumably under oath and with counsel present, about these matters on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, respectively, of this past week. Again, hard to be too self-serving when the investigator with whom you are speaking may have a tape recording of the conversation you are discussing.

Questions for the SEIU’s Balanoff? The labor nexus.

There are more questions. On November 7, 2008, Tom Balanoff, head of the Illinois chapter of SEIU, tells Jarrett that he had spoken to the Governor about the possibility of selecting Jarrett to replace Obama. Balanoff told Jarrett that Lisa Madigan’s name also came up. But, why had Balanoff had that conversation? Who initiated it? Had Balanoff spoken to Jarrett about that issue prior to Nov. 7? Prior to November 4? Did Balanoff tell Team Blago that Obama or Jarrett would very much “appreciate Jarrett’s selection.” Did Balanoff say that prior to Nov. 4 to Blago. Did Jarrett authorize Balanoff to say that to Blago? Craig indicated in the presser that his investigation covered communications prior to or after the election between those in the transition or Obama's immediate circle about the senate replacement issue with the Governor, his staff or his representatives. But, does Balanoff fall outside that universe? It would seem so, but we don't know. We didn't get to ask that at the presser. Also, it is unclear if Balanoff has been interviewed by the U. S. Attorney's office, although we imagine he would be.

Questions for Emanuel in Africa

For Rahm Emanuel, in Africa, why did he suggest Jarrett as a replacement for Obama to Blago during the Nov. 6 to Nov. 8 time period. Simply because he knew Jarrett wanted it? Who else did Emanuel discuss as an Obama replacement with Blago at that time? Did Blago or Emanuel suggest the name or names?

Yet more questions for Rahm Emanuel. Apparently, the President-Elect had decided not to actively seek to have Jarrett appointed to the vacancy. So, on what authority was Emanuel doing so? Did Emanuel indicate to Blago that he would “appreciate” Blago making the selection of Jarrett? When Emanuel learned he was acting contrary to Obama’s wishes, did he communicate that to Blagojevich or Harris?

That hard-hitting DC press corps? Still in the tank for Obama?

The above are the questions that this reporter had for Gibbs and Craig. But, they went unanswered, as he was not called on. Best to call on the DC press corps, who tend to have fewer questions, and they tend to be more docile-- like Happy Holidays—my favorite from the DC press corps. The Obama-MSM honeymoon continues. Can you imagine the media coverage for January 20? Might be X-rated.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs;" Contributing correspondent, Illinois Channel and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at *************************************************************
"Public Affairs," is a weekly political interview show airing in Chicago on CANTV, in the Chicago metro area, Aurora and Rockford on Comcast and also often on the Illinois Channel. You can watch the shows, including archived shows going back to 2005, here.
Recently posted shows on the Public Affairs YouTube page include a recent Bill O'Reilly segment w/Berkowitz on Obama, shows with Cook County Cmsr. Tony Peraica (R-Riverside) on the mess we call Illinois politics, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell, State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), State Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Westmont), Cook County Commissioner and possible 5th CD Dem. Primary candidate Mike Quigley (D-Lakeview), State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) and Cook County Cmsr. and Obama Media Team Member Forrest Claypool and much more.