CHICAGO — President-elect Barack Obama said Monday a review by his own lawyer shows he had no direct contact with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich about the appointment of a Senate replacement, and transition aides "did nothing inappropriate."
Obama said he is prepared to make the review public, but decided to hold off because prosecutors asked for a delay and "I don't want to interfere with an ongoing investigation."
Controversy has swirled around the president-elect and his incoming White House chief of staff, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, following Blagojevich's arrest last week on charges he schemed to trade Obama's Senate seat for personal gain.
Obama, fielding questions at a news conference, sidestepped when asked whether Emanuel had spoken with aides to the governor.
Emanuel was one of several aides who watched the news conference from the wings.
The president-elect pledged the results of the investigation by his incoming White House counsel, Gregory Craig, would be released "in due course."
He said the probe was complete and thorough, but did not say which of his aides Craig interviewed, whether any of them was under oath at the time, or any other details.
Spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said that the office won't release details of its review until the week of Dec. 22.
That's Christmas week, when few people will be paying attention and when Obama plans to be celebrating the holiday in Hawaii — not in Chicago, which has been the focal point of the federal investigation.
United States Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald confirmed the request for a delay in a statement, saying the extra time will allow his office to "conduct certain interviews."
In a statement released earlier Monday, Pfeiffer said that Craig has kept federal prosecutors informed of the internal review "in order to ensure our full cooperation with the investigation" into allegations against the governor.
Pfeiffer said the review "affirmed the public statements of the president-elect that he had no contact with the governor or his staff, and that the president-elect's staff was not involved in inappropriate discussions with the governor or his staff over the selection of his successor as U.S. senator."
It did not say whether Emanuel was heard on a wiretap providing the governor's top aide with a list of names that the president-elect favored. Nor did it say who, if anyone, on Obama transition's team had made contact with the governor or his aides concerning a replacement for Obama.
Obama resigned his Senate seat last month to prepare for taking the oath of office as president. Blagojevich, who has the power to appoint a replacement, was arrested last Tuesday on charges he schemed to sell the seat in exchange for money or political favors for himself or his wife.
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