Was an Obama Team Member on Blagojevich's Conference Call?

This is a rush transcript from "America's News HQ," December 11, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: Well, an aspect of the Blagojevich story that is getting the microscope today is a rather revealing conference call that took place on November the 11, just several days after the election. In it, Blagojevich, the governor of Illinois, said he wanted financial assistance for his family as payback for making somebody the new senator from Illinois.

FOX's Washington deputy managing editor, Bill Sammon, joins me now.

There is a treasure trove of stuff in there, Bill, and a lot of talk about all this today. But, you know, what do you make of this conference call, which was — in the participants were his wife, his top advisors, and then a number of Washington officials yet to be named, but there are folks who were in on this and we don't know who they were yet?

Video: Watch Martha MacCallum's interview

BILL SAMMON, FOX NEWS WASHINGTON DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR: Well, that's perhaps the most tantalizing tidbit that these were his, quote-unquote, "Washington, D.C.-based advisors," who, of course, the prosecutors don't named in there.

But it raises the question about whether somebody from the Obama team might have been on that, because as soon as the conference call ended, it was a two-hour conference call, and in that conference call, Blagojevich basically said — OK, well, if, you know, Valerie Jarrett, if, you know, I'm going to appoint Obama's favorite person, Valerie Jarrett, to that Senate seat and Obama's not going to pay me off for it, the heck with her, I'm not going to do it.

Of course, he used a little saltier language. But as soon as that conference call ended, within a matter of hours, Obama aides were leaking to reporters that Valerie Jarrett had taken herself out of the running for that seat.


SAMMON: So, either someone who was in on that call, or got briefed by a participant in the call, someone from the Obama camp, and the question is who.

MACCALLUM: Yes, is there any problem with that, though, Bill? I mean, that's the question. You would imagine that some person who is involved with the Obama team might be on that call — gee, who's going to take the president-elect Senate seat. And doesn't the fact that would followed with Valerie Jarrett who was supposedly his top choice, right after that, pulled out and said, we don't want anything in this. Is there anything bad about that whole scenario?

SAMMON: Legally, no. Legally, it may be exculpatory. It might actually help Obama.


SAMMON: ... because it looks like, you know, he was the one guy that didn't want anything to do with pay-to-play. Politically, it's a little trickier. I mean, if you've got — if, indeed, the Obama camp is on these two-hour conference call where these outrageous things are being said and if you wade through this 76-page affidavit, it just, you know, curls your hair, about all the — well, maybe I could get this job or I could get my wife this job.


SAMMON: ... or maybe we could get the service employees international union to do a three-way arrangement and they could get credit for the, you know, senatorial appointment and then they could give me a big, fancy, cushy job. I mean, it's just crazy stuff. If the Obama campaign is affiliated with that, it's politically sort of, you know, the stink of scandal then clings to the Obama people. And so.

MACCALLUM: So, you're saying, as we go one step further that they should have blown the whistle on this conversation right away?

SAMMON: I would think if you're in a two-hour conversation.


SAMMON: ... that kind of bad stuff is being talked about, you would have an obligation to out the person. Now, again, we don't know whether an Obama — anyone from the Obama team was on that, but there's a lot of questions that need to be asked. Was it Rahm Emanuel? Was it David Axelrod who once handled Blagojevich's, you know, political campaign?

There's a lot of sort of interconnectivity here between the Obama camp and Blagojevich camp. Even though the press is starting to say, oh, these two guys didn't really get along and there's much of a connection, I'm a little skeptical. We heard that with Reverend Wright. We heard that Bill Ayers. We heard that with any number of people and that excuse is starting to wear a little thin.

MACCALLUM: All right. Well, he says we're going to find out if there was any connection or anybody affiliated with him who was on that call, in the next couple of days. So, we know you'll be working on. Bill Sammon, thank you very much.

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