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Report absolves Obama in Ill. scandal

Dec. 23, 2008 at 5:37 PM

CHICAGO, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- A report from President-elect Barack Obama's transition team found no improper contact between Obama or his advisers and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Blagojevich was arrested last month on federal corruption charges. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says that the governor was trying to sell Obama's U.S. Senate seat. The governor normally appoints a U.S. senator to a vacant seat until one can be elected.

Greg Craig, the lawyer who issued the report, said that Fitzgerald interviewed Obama and top members of his staff last week. They were Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., his designated chief of staff, and Valerie Jarrett, the co-chair of the transition team who has been named a senior adviser in the White House.

The report suggests that Obama was more interested in his successor than he has said in his public statements on the scandal. Once Jarrett said she was not interested in becoming a senator, Obama let Blagojevich know that he would accept one of four people, including Democratic House members Jan Schakowsky and Jesse Jackson Jr., Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes and Illinois Director of Veterans Affairs Tammy Duckworth, who was seriously injured in Iraq.

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