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Axelrod on Jarret’s Interest in a Senate Seat


Over the next few weeks, I expect contradictions like this will get a little more attention. Here’s Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet, reporting from a Harvard political forum featuring David Axelrod:

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In what I can only describe as a political fantasy, Gov. Blagojevich somehow thought he could extract a Cabinet post from President-elect Barack Obama if he appointed Valerie Jarrett to replace Obama in the Senate.

But the reality is Obama always wanted Jarrett, a confidante who is friends with the president-elect and his wife, Michelle, to work with him in the White House, David Axelrod said Thursday night.

And here’s David Shuster on MSNBC last night saying quite the opposite that Jarret was interested in the seat:

SHUSTER: If Mr. Obama’s staff knew Blagojevich was attempting to sell the Senate seat for cash or a cabinet position and they didn’t call in the FBI, that could be embarrassing and damaging to Obama. On the other hand, if it was somebody close to Obama who told investigators, perhaps in the first place or early on, Obama will be insulated from the Blagojevich fallout.

The intrigue now revolves around a key meeting and conference call on November the 10th. According to the criminal complaint, it went on for two hours and included Governor Blagojevich, his wife, his general counsel, an unnamed adviser, the governor’s chief of staff and various Washington, D.C. , based advisers that the FBI has not named.

The criminal complaint says Mr. Blagojevich discussed ideas for cashing in on the power to name Obama’s Senate successor. The Blagojevich discussion included “what he can get from the president-elect for the Senate seat.”

During the meeting, Governor Blagojevich complained about his financial situation. “The immediate challenge is, how do we take some of the financial pressure off of our family?”

A few hours later there was a stunning report from CNN. “Two Democratic sources close to President-elect Barack Obama tell CNN that top adviser Valerie Jarrett will not be appointed to replace him in the U.S. Senate.”

At the time, reporters, including myself, were convinced that Valerie Jarrett was highly interested in the Senate seat. So the report was a remarkable turnaround, and it was punctuated two days later by Jarrett herself during an interview on PBS.

Shuster heard it from somebody that Jarret was interested — the question is, who?


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