— President-elect Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel
, spoke several times with Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois about possible candidates for Mr. Obama’s Senate seat
, aides close to the presidential transition team said Saturday.
Mr. Emanuel has not been accused of wrongdoing by federal prosecutors. A
transition aide said that the two men had discussed a wide range of people who might fill Mr. Obama’s seat, but that Mr. Emanuel had not engaged in any deal-making with Mr. Blagojevich, who was charged last week by federal prosecutors with conspiring to turn a profit from the appointment.
The conversations between Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Blagojevich
, first reported by The Chicago Tribune, were captured on wiretaps, according to another official close to the transition.
Mr. Obama has said he has never spoken with the governor about the seat. But Mr. Obama’s aides have declined for five days to publicly answer questions about what discussions they had about the seat and what contacts intermediaries may have had with Mr. Blagojevich’s advisers.
Patrick J. Fitzgerald
, the United States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Illinois
, said when the charges against Mr. Blagojevich were announced that Mr. Obama was not implicated in the case.
The Illinois governor
alone has the powerpower
to fill such vacancies. The criminal complaint against him alleges that he sought to benefit personally from the appointment by securing high-paying jobs for himself and his wife, or campaign campaign
contributions, in return for his selection.
Mr. Obama said Thursday that his aides were looking through all of their possible contacts with the governor and would release more information in the coming days. Republicans
, meanwhile, have raised questions about Mr. Obama’s refusal to say more and about his past ties with the main characters in the story.
Rahm Emanuel Discussed Senate Vacancy With Gov. Blagojevich