Update: Emanuel traded favors with Blagojevich
NBC Chicago reports, “President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, then a congressman in Illinois, apparently attempted to trade favors with embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich while he was in office, according to newly disclosed e-mails obtained by The Associated Press.”
Emanuel agreed to sign a letter to the Chicago Tribune supporting Blagojevich in the face of a scathing editorial by the newspaper that ridiculed the governor for self-promotion. Within hours, Emanuel’s own staff asked for a favor of its own: The release of a delayed $2 million grant to a school in his district.
The 2006 discussion occured with Blagojevich’s top aide, Deputy Gov. Bradley Tusk, and doesn’t appear to cross legal lines; Emanuel couldn’t speed up the distribution of the funds. But it offers a peek at ties between two high-profile Illinois politicians Ã¢â‚¬â€ one now the president’s right-hand man, the other facing years in prison if convicted of political corruption.
Discussion of the exchange could come up at Blagojevich’s corruption trial, currently under way in Chicago. Blagojevich, who is accused of plotting to profit by selling an appointment to Obama’s former Senate seat, also tried later that year to use the school grant in an extortion attempt against Emanuel, according to federal prosecutors.
The British Telegraph claimed Obama’s top aide was considering departing amidst tension between his “compromise” approach and the idealistic approach of others in Obama’s inner circle.
“It is well known in Washington that arguments have developed between pragmatic Mr Emanuel, a veteran in Congress where he was known for driving through compromises, and the idealistic inner circle who followed Mr Obama to the White House,” the Telegraph wrote. “His abrasive style has rubbed some people the wrong way, while there has been frustration among Mr Obama’s closest advisers that he failed to deliver a smooth ride for the president’s legislative program that his background promised.”
But the White House threw cold water on the story Monday, saying through an anonymous “senior official” that it was “ludicrous” and “not worth looking into.”
The Telegraph quoted an anonymous Democratic aide as saying, “I would bet he will go after the midterms. Nobody thinks it’s working, but they can’t get rid of him — that would look awful. He needs the right sort of job to go to, but the consensus is he’ll go.”
The story also claimed that Emanuel would consider running for mayor of Chicago.
The Telegraph is the largest broadsheet newspaper in the UK by circulation.