hasn’t even stepped into office and already a scandal is threatening to dog him.
Obama isn’t accused of anything. But the fact that, a fellow Democrat, has been charged with trying to sell Obama’s now-vacant Senate post gives political opponents an opening to try to link him to the scandal. A slew of questions remain. The investigation is still under way. And the ultimate impact on Obama is far from certain.
He pointedly distanced himself from the case Tuesday, saying, “I had no contact with the governor or his office, and so I was not aware of what was happening” concerning any possible dealing about Blagojevich’s appointment of a successor.
By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer
In this June 20, 2005 file photo, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, D-Ill., speaks as Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., listens during a news conference in St. Louis. Federal authorities arrested Blagojevich Tuesday Dec. 9, 2008 on charges that he brazenly conspired to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder. (AP Photo/James A. Finley, File)
In Chicago, U.S. Attorney said prosecutors were making no allegations that Obama was aware of any scheming. And Blagojevich himself, in taped conversations cited by prosecutors, suggested that Obama wouldn’t be helpful to him. Even if the governor was to appoint a candidate favored by the Obama team, Blagojevich said, “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation.”
Republicans pounced nonetheless.
“The serious nature of the crimes listed by federal prosecutors raises questions about the interaction with Gov. Blagojevich, President-elect Obama and other high ranking officials who will be working for the future president,” said Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the new House whip.
Added Robert M. “Mike” Duncan, chairman of the Republican National Committee, “President-elect Barack Obama’s comments on the matter are insufficient at best.”
Robert Gibbs, an Obama spokesman, said, “We did not know about this recent part of the investigation until today.”