DOCUMENT: Investigation

Obama Interviewed In Blagojevich Probe

President-elect, two aides quizzed last week by federal prosecutors

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Obama Interviewed In Blagojevich Probe

DECEMBER 23--President-elect Barack Obama and two of his top advisers were interviewed last week by federal prosecutors probing Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's alleged bid to sell Obama's vacated Senate seat, according to a report issued today by an Obama lawyer. The lawyer, Gregory Craig, concluded that Obama and his aides engaged in no improper conduct in connection with the Senate opening.

A copy of the Craig report can be found here.

As part of his review of transition team 'contacts' with Blagojevich, Craig reported that only incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had spoke with the Illinois pol. Emanuel, Craig disclosed, had 'one or two telephone calls' with Blagojevich in early-November. Emanuel reportedly gave Blagojevich a 'heads up' that he was accepting Obama's offer of the chief of staff job (and, as a result, would be resigning his congressional seat). Emanuel also 'had a brief discussion with the Governor about the Senate seat and the merits of various people whom the Governor might consider.'

Craig also noted that Emanuel had 'about four telephone conversations with John Harris, Chief of Staff to the Governor, on the subject of the Senate seat. In these conversations, Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Harris discussed the merits of potential candidates and the strategic benefit that each candidate would bring to the Senate seat.'

In addition to the president-elect, Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett, an Obama confidante, were interviewed in the past few days by investigators with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago, which, on December 9, announced criminal charges against Blagojevich and Harris. (5 pages)