*I knew it! Told you this guy was up to no good…he is corrupt as hell*
BARACK Obama’s chief of staff is under pressure over reported contacts with Illinois’s corruption-tainted governor, who faces impeachment proceedings this week.
Rahm Emanuel, a combative congressman from Illinois who will serve as Obama’s political gatekeeper in the White House, was reported to have been in touch with Governor Rod Blagojevich about Mr Obama’s Senate seat.
The Chicago Tribune and New York Times did not suggest any wrongdoing by Mr Emanuel, citing sources as saying he had presented suggested names to take over the seat without offering any inducements to Mr Blagojevich.
But the reports could present a distraction to the president-elect, as the Republican Party released a new advertisement declaring that “questions remain” over Mr Obama’s links to the disgraced governor.
The web ad by the Republican National Committee highlighted Mr Obama’s past support for Mr Blagojevich and showed commentators questioning why the president-elect had not been more forthright in denouncing the Governor.
Mr Blagojevich has refused to resign after his arrest in an FBI investigation that accuses him of staggering corruption, including an attempt to sell Mr Obama’s vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder.
Illinois lawmakers are expected to begin impeachment proceedings today in a hastily called special session, while state Attorney General Lisa Madigan wants the state supreme court to strip Mr Blagojevich of the bulk of his powers.
Ms Madigan noted speculation, reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, that Mr Blagojevich may now be set to resign as early as today or temporarily step aside to fight the corruption allegations.
Commenting on the reports about Emanuel, she told NBC television that it “doesn’t appear from what I’ve heard so far that there is anything improper that has occurred.”
Ms Madigan was among the names reportedly suggested by Mr Emanuel for the Governor to appoint as Mr Obama’s senatorial replacement.
Others were Mr Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, Illinois Representative Jan Schakowsky, state Comptroller Dan Hynes and Illinois Veterans Affairs director Tammy Duckworth.
“One source confirmed that communications between Emanuel and the Blagojevich administration were captured on court-approved wire-taps,” the Chicago Tribune said.
But wire-tap transcripts released by prosecutors suggest that Mr Blagojevich was not being offered anything beyond appreciation from the Obama camp, much to the Governor’s foul-mouthed frustration.
Mr Obama has ordered his staff to divulge any contacts they may have had with Mr Blagojevich, while insisting he was “absolutely certain” that there had been no dealings on the alleged scheme to sell off the Senate seat.