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early and often

Team Obama Did Nothing Wrong, Says Team Obama

Yesterday Barack Obama released his long-awaited internal report on his team's contacts with disgraced former Almost Famous star Rod Blagojevich. Though it might seem suspicious that Obama is off flexing in Hawaii and Rahm Emanuel just happens to be on a family vacation in Africa, the investigation completely exonerates Obama and his staff. While Emanuel did speak with Blago and his chief of staff on a handful of occasions, nothing improper took place, the report concludes, nor was anyone on Obama's team aware of any quid pro quo schemes or other devious activities. Which is pretty much what everyone expected to hear, although we did also learn that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald interviewed Obama, Emanuel, and aide Valerie Jarrett about the case last week. That bit of information, and the report in its entirety, were viewed suspiciously by some, while others are satisfied and ready to move on.

• Ed Morrissey suspects "that Fitzgerald needed further clarification than Obama’s flat denials, and it would be interesting to know why," but "[e]ven approaching him for the investigation seems unusual." [Hot Air]

• Jennifer Rubin believes that without "access to the witnesses, verbatim accounts of the calls, and an explanation for Jarrett’s withdrawal from the Senate race," it's "hard to evaluate the credibility and reliability of the summary." But what we do know is that "the blanket initial denial by President-elect Obama was in all likelihood technically correct, but rather misleading," because "with his full knowledge, his closest aides were in fact talking to Blago’s team and conveying the President-elect’s wishes about the open senate seat." [Contentions/Commentary]

• Mary Katherine Ham notes "that the Washington press corps is awfully happily credulous of a Democratic internal investigation, conducted by Democrats, of Democrats, to clear Democrats of possible collusion with another Democrat, released on a holiday weekend at 4:30 p.m." [Blog/Weekly Standard]

• Ben Pershing finds it "striking how little skepticism there is in this morning's stories, both of the report's result and the process by which it was crafted." Would the media buy it if the Bush administration had exonerated itself in a similar investigation? Of course, "you could argue that [Bush] earned a healthy dose of skepticism over the last eight years." [44/WP]

• Steve Benen contends that we should trust the Obama report because "the review was done with the knowledge that Blagojevich and his office was the subject of FBI wiretaps," meaning the transition team "knew in advance that any false claims would be easily exposed, so they had a very strong incentive to be completely honest." [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• Kenneth P. Vogel and Carrie Budoff Brown craft a list of the "five rules of Obama scandal-management based on his team's handling of its first post-election crisis." They include "Be transparent, to an extent" and "Aides take hits to protect the boss." [Politico]

• Karen Tumulty says the bottom line is that "it would appear that if Blagojevich — or anyone working on his behalf — was trying to get anything out of Obama, they were doing it awfully subtly." [Swampland/Time]

• Matthew Yglesias thinks the results "shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who heard Patrick “I Have Wir[e]taps of All of This” Fitzgerald say that they didn’t do anything wrong." [Think Progress]

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Photo: Photo-illustration: Everett Bogue; Photo: Getty Images