President-elect Barack Obama said Monday that he is withholding, for now, an internal review of his staff's contact with the office of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich at the request of the U.S. attorney handling the governor's corruption case.
Obama, speaking at a press conference where he unveiled his energy and environment team, said the review was "thorough and comprehensive" and backed up his previous claim that his aides were not involved in any wrongdoing.
"There was nothing in the review ... that in any way contradicted my earlier statement that this appalling set of circumstances that we've seen arise had nothing to do with my office," Obama said.
Blagojevich was arrested last week and accused of trying to auction off Obama's vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder, in a series of "pay-to-play" schemes.
Obama said he is waiting one week to release the contents of his review to the public. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald released a written statement Monday confirming that he requested a "brief delay" so that investigators could conduct certain interviews.
In personally disclosing the results of the investigation he ordered, Obama said, "As I said in a press conference last week, I had no contact with the governor's office and I had no contact with anybody in the governor's office. What I indicated last week was there was nothing that my office did that was in any way inappropriate or related to the charges that have been brought."
Obama's transition team said earlier Monday in a written statement that the review will show that Obama's staff did not take part in "inappropriate discussions" with Blagojevich over filling his Senate seat.
Obama said he was directing his staff to conduct the review at a press conference last week.
"That 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," Obama spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said in the statement Monday.
"Also at the president-elect's direction, Gregory Craig, counsel to the transition, has kept the U.S. attorney's office informed of this fact-gathering process in order to ensure our full cooperation with the investigation," Pfeiffer said.
The brief statement, however, did not say whether Obama's incoming White House chief of staff, Rep. Rahm 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, fielding questions at the news conference, sidestepped when asked whether Emanuel had spoken with aides to the governor about potential Senate appointees. Emanuel was one of several aides who watched the news conference from the wings.
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 week on charges he schemed to sell the seat in exchange for money or political favors for himself or his wife.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.