« BLASPHEMERS!!!! | Main | Coffee Snorters: It Is To Laugh Edition »

December 10, 2008

Obama's "No Contact" Depends On Meaning of "No" and "Contact"....

Important update: via Tom Maguire, this tape of Gov. Blogojevich on Nov. 5th stating that, as of that date, he had not spoken with Obama about filling the Senate seat.

I think that settles the question of why the two KHQA articles were pulled, though obviously it would have been better to simply correct them in place.

A few thoughts:

1. The Governor is hardly a credible source, but on the other hand I see no real reason for him to lie about something like this. Absent some other evidence the two met or talked that day, it makes sense to assume they did not.

2. As Clarice Feldman notes, the mere association with Blago is embarrassing for Obama. Embarrassment, however, is not evidence of guilt:

It’s been known for a long time that Obama has had strong ties to Rezko (see, i.e.,) who is revealed yet again in these tapes as the governor’s bagman. If you wanted anything done in Chicago, it appears that you had to do it through payoffs for the governor to Rezko.

In his press conference, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald denied that there was anything in the criminal complaint linking Obama to the events, but Jim Lindgren at the Volokh Conspiracy finds a rather well-defined trail of crumbs back to the president-elect .

From the evening of Nov. 10 until yesterday, Blagojevich, Obama, and his transition team acted in ways that are consistent with a knowledge of Blagojevich’s bribery attempt and a rejection of that attempt. What doesn’t fit easily with the timeline is Obama’s statement yesterday.

It should be noted that it is not a crime to fail to report a bribery attempt. The federal misprision of felony statute would seem to make it a federal crime to fail to report a federal felony:

Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both. 18 USC s.4.

But case law has conclusively determined that mere non-reporting is not enough. Active concealment or the acceptance of a benefit for concealing is required.

Yet, looking at this timeline of Blagogate, it seems quite possible that someone in the Obama Camp is either lying or at least not revealing what they know. I also find it hard to believe that Obama’s closest advisors were hiding major corruption from him, especially as he was making decisions about where to place Senate candidates such as Jarrett.

We’ve all been through this drill before; countless aides and advisers hauled before the grand jury under suspicion of process crimes — that is, not disclosing the truth of the events. Lindgren notes: “Since by all accounts, the Obama camp refused Blagojevich’s bribery attempt, it would be extremely unwise to lie about it. Remember, it’s not the crime that trips you up; it’s the cover-up.”

3. Obama's careful parsing regarding his interactions with Blago has not gone unnoticed:

... this isn't just a complaint against a guy who happens to, coincidentally, also be a Chicago Democrat. Team Obama is all over the criminal complaint -- as seemingly innocent characters, perhaps even potential victims, of the Blago drama. But they're in there nonetheless, and that is highly unusual.

Incoming White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett has her own pseudonym - Senate Candidate 1. So is some unnamed individual with ties to the Obama team. Blagojevich has many epithets for the President-elect himself. There are lots of questions about what any of them knew.

Then there's the big question about how Blago was so sure -- so angry -- that Team Obama would not pay to play.

Who in the Obama Team was talking to the Governor's office?

When they found out that Blago wanted to quid pro quo Team Obama (Jarrett gets the Senate seat if Blago gets a Cabinet position, or a good-paying job with a union-affiliated organization, or his wife gets a seat on some corporate boards) what did they do?

Did a member of Team Obama drop a dime on him?

As of now, the lack of answers from Team Obama is all we have. Obama sources say the silence is for two reasons: 1) this is a criminal investigation and they want to be careful about what they're allowed to say, and 2) they want to talk to everyone, make sure they know just who spoke to whom, and then be able to give one definitive answer with no subsequent shoes dropping.

A problem with this is that President-elect Obama appeared before the cameras today for a previously-scheduled photo op with environmental guru Al Gore.

"Did you have any contact with or were you aware at all of what was happening with your Senate seat?" asked a reporter, the Wall Street's Journal Jonathan Weisman.

"I had no contact with the Governor or his office," Obama said, "and so we were, I was not aware of what was happening."

As we noted, this contradicted a comment made by Obama senior aide David Axelrod, who told Fox News Chicago about Obama, "I know he's talked to the governor" -- about the Senate seat -- "and there are a whole range of names, many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them."

Axelrod has since said he was "mistaken when I told an interviewer last month that the President-elect has spoken directly to Governor Blagojevich about the Senate vacancy. They did not then or at any time discuss the subject."

But there are other problems with Obama's response as well.

Slate's John Dickerson writes, Obama saying "I was not aware of what was happening" is "so vague as to be nearly meaningless" and "can mean anything you want it to. It can mean you weren't aware of anything relating to the Senate seat, or that you weren't aware the governor was trying to sell the Senate seat, or that you weren't aware the governor was under federal investigation for trying to sell the Senate seat. ..Was Obama purposefully trying to be unclear? It's hard to say. It's a little hard to believe that he didn't know anything that was happening relating to his old seat."

Then there's that other part of Obama's statement -- the one that he self-corrects, mid-sentence: "We were, I was not aware of what was happening."

He starts off speaking for the Obama Team. "We were." Then he stops himself and goes back and speaks only for himself. "I was."

He was not aware of what was happening. Not sure about anyone else.

There's nothing inherently wrong with this self-correction -- giving Mr. Obama the benefit of the doubt, he was trying to be precise and presumably at that point he wasn't sure of who in his team had talked to whom on Team Blago, if anyone.

But it does seem to indicate an unspoken acknowledgement that he doesn't know the whole story, or at least didn't at that point.

Sources close to Obama say that he found out about the arrest of Blagojevich at the same time we all did, this morning. But it would seem highly improbable that no one there knew anything.

On its website, President-elect Obama's Transition Team is making a big deal about transparency, posting memos and information about meetings with various, largely supportive organizations.

True transparency means a little more than that, one might posit. It means telling voters about matters that aren't entirely comfortable to share.

4. According to John Dickerson, on November 9th a source in the Obama camp stated that Valerie Jarratt was "Obama's choice to fill his Senate seat".

The very next day, Obama announced that he "wanted her in the White House". As Dickerson says,

What happened in between? Jarrett pulled herself out of the running for the Senate seat rather abruptly—did she know something funny was going on? Did Obama know something funny was going on?

How did anyone know what was going on if Obama wasn't talking to the Governor's office about the vacancy?

A little of that promised transparency would go a long way towards resolving these questions.


MOM!!! Vanderleun's been playing in the memory hole again!

"I did not have interpersonal relations with that man, Governor Blagojevich." - Bloodthirsty Liberal

The story that put the lie to the No-O & Blogo Meeting was discovered yesterday. Once discovered it promptly disappeared down the memory hole at News : KHQA. Seeing that it had vanished I searched for it in Google Cache and, sure enough, there it was. For about an hour and then cached page vanished as well. A second story from the same source confirming the meeting also met the same fate.

But, fearing something like the erasure of the cached page, I made a screen shot. Here it is:


Amusingly, WHQA proceded to remove not only the Sowers article, but a Nov. 8th article which stated the meeting had, in fact, taken place before issuing this "clarification":

KHQA TV wishes to offer clarification regarding a story that appeared last month on our website ConnectTristates.com. The story, which discussed the appointment of a replacement for President Elect Obama in the U.S. Senate, became the subject of much discussion on talk radio and on blog sites Wednesday.

The story housed in our website archive was on the morning of November 5, 2008. It suggested that a meeting was scheduled later that day between President Elect Obama and Illinois Governor Blagojevich. KHQA has no knowledge that any meeting ever took place. Governor Blagojevich did appear at a news conference in Chicago on that date.

The station then wiped the Google cache... in the interests of thoroughness you understand. Via Thomas Lifson, however, it appears Gov. Blagojevich mentions meeting with Obama in a press release on his web site:


Governor Blagojevich Congratulates President-elect Obama and Discusses U.S. Senate Seat
To fill President-Elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat, Governor will use deliberate process to select suitable replacement

Are we the only ones here who are beginning to see a disturbing pattern emerging?

When he was asked whether he heard inflammatory statements by Rev. Wright:

When he was challenged by CNN to admit he lied when he repeatedly claimed McCain said he would be happy if we stayed in Iraq for 100 years:

Claiming his campaign never played the race card right after they issued a press release containing four page of what they called racially insensitive remarks:

This is what happens when press roll over and play dead.

For whatever it may be worth, I don't think this proves he's done anything wrong. There is nothing more natural or normal in the world than for him to have met with Blago right after the election.

What bothers me is that Obama has clearly lied about it, and he has a pattern of telling bald-faced lies to the press.

This man has got to stop lying every time he's questioned about anything and the press have got to start displaying a little curiosity or the next four years are not going to be a success for anyone. This isn't a game.

If he met with the Governor, he should own up to it and absent any evidence to the contrary his word ought to be good enough. That his first impulse was to lie is a very bad sign.

update: More "non-contact":


Posted by Cassandra at December 10, 2008 11:17 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


"That his first impulse was to lie is a very bad sign."

Yanno, I expect that kind of behaviour from an 8 yr old, not from a mature, responsible adult and most definitely not from someone who has just been selected to be the next President of the United States. For one who fashions himself a "God-King" though....well, now that's different....who are *we* to question his veracity? And pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, or under the bus, as the case may be.....

Posted by: DL Sly at December 11, 2008 12:47 AM

I wonder how long it will be before the American public starts having a bit of "buyer's remorse" on their selection for President of the United States...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at December 11, 2008 12:51 AM

Geeesh - He hasn't been properly elected yet (By The Electoral College you know), and we have the first scandal of the Administration.

Bring in the pop-corn we have here a full blown Blago-Gate.

Posted by: Boquisucio at December 11, 2008 01:10 AM

"Are we the only ones here who are beginning to see a disturbing pattern emerging?"

I certainly hope that a bunch of the idiots who voted for Obama will change (whatever it is that passes for) their minds about him. I ain't about to start holding my breath, however...

Posted by: camojack at December 11, 2008 01:23 AM

Geez, guys, he's a Chicago machine politician and you're upset that he's running true to form?

Posted by: BillT at December 11, 2008 02:04 AM

%$#@! twitchy *post* finger.

Shoulda been "...surprised that he's running..."

Posted by: BillT at December 11, 2008 02:06 AM

Obama didn't lie. Bush lied.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 11, 2008 02:31 AM

Does that mean they fixed the power, Bill, and now it is just your finger being frozen (or boiled) that is the problem?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 11, 2008 02:38 AM

Actually, I think I bumped it with my elbow.

Don't ask.

Posted by: BillT at December 11, 2008 04:00 AM

The Bushhitler administration made him lie! It's a lie that he lied! He's no liar, he's just being maligned by the deranged Obama hating media! That's no lie!

The Ministry of Truth has stepped in now and all the foregoing and everything else in this topic is now expunged, erased, exiled, sent to perdition, and can no longer be bandied about the water cooler!

Oh, and Cass, my sincere congratulations on your blogoversary. Sorry I missed it earlier. When my former life was ending, just as you were ending the blog, I recall how much I was really going to miss it. I'm glad you stuck with it.

Posted by: Curtis at December 11, 2008 04:38 AM

I'd be amazed if he hadn't discussed his replacement with Blagojevich... this instant "Uh-uh! Not me! I never did it!!!!" response is stupid. Although watching Axelrod backpedal so furiously is amusing... if this is the best these clowns can do, it's going to be hysterical when they run across something that's actually worth lying about.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at December 11, 2008 07:35 AM

Scooter Libby went to jail for the same offenses. And yes, I know he was under oath but....a pattern emerges.

Posted by: Steve at December 11, 2008 08:06 AM

Obama lied and the cache died.

You know what this means: For the next four years, screen shot programs are gonna be the next hot software. Or buying a database server.

Posted by: Cricket at December 11, 2008 08:44 AM

What I don't understand is this: Admit he talked with the governor and gave his input and then, stepped back and let the governor make his decision, according to the law.

That way, he is not culpable for the decision.
Good grief; all he can do is suggest. That isn't illegal or immoral. But why deny you had a conversation? (it's a rhetorical question)

Posted by: Cricket at December 11, 2008 09:43 AM

I'll concur. It would not have seemed in the least bit strange for a mid-term Senator discuss with his state's Governor as to who might make a good replacement. I'd not even have thought twice about it. (contrafactual on)Were I to have been an adviser for the President-Elect, I'd have instructed him to say "I spoke with the Governor about some options for my replacement, and he said he'd take it under advisement. That's as far as our conversation went." There. He's made no incriminating statements, he's broken no laws. And he doesn't look like a lying fool. As Cass says, it speaks poorly for his judgment that his first instinct is not just to lie, but to lie stupidly.

Posted by: MikeD at December 11, 2008 11:26 AM

I agree, Mike. It seems far weirder to think they wouldn't have talked about it than that they did, especially since there's nothing wrong with them talking about and since there's been a freaking wiretap on the guy for over a month now :p

Especially when, on the tapes from the wiretap, Blogo is bitching about how Obama won't play ball with him! Personally I'd have admitted I discussed it briefly and then said, 'no comment' after that. If he thinks people are going to let this go, he doesn't understand Washington.


Posted by: Cassandra at December 11, 2008 02:36 PM

Thanks Curtis :)

It wasn't that big a deal. I was just surprised to realize it had been four years and wanted to say 'thank you' - that's all.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 11, 2008 02:37 PM

"I was just surprised to realize it had been four years..."

Yeah, time's fun when you're having flies....ummm.....

Got cake?

Posted by: DL Sly at December 11, 2008 03:16 PM