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Obama Olympic Push 'Political Payback' for Chicago Cronies?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," September 30, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The hot button issues facing the Obama administration will be put on hold tomorrow when the president heads to Copenhagen, Denmark, where he will meet with officials from the International Olympic Committee.

Now he's hoping this last-minute trip will help win support for the Chicago Olympics in 2016. But with the Iranian nuclear crisis, the war in Afghanistan, the debate over health care reform raging in Washington, so why is the president so concerned about bringing the Olympics so his hometown?

Well, my next guest has done some excellent reporting that could help explain the president's interest in that matter. And I believe she calls it, quote, "political payback."

And I'm joined now by the author of "Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies," Michelle Malkin is back with us.

Video: Watch Sean's interview

Michelle, welcome back.

MICHELLE MALKIN, "THE CULTURE OF CORRUPTION" AUTHOR: Thank you, Sean.

HANNITY: All right, now, he doesn't — well, we've got to put this in context. Not only health care, not only Afghanistan, not only, you know, the economy. He didn't even have time to talk to his general that sent him an August late memo saying that we're going to — we're risking failure in Afghanistan. He didn't have time for that but he has time for this. So I think that's an important point to make as we start this discussion.

MALKIN: I think that is very important, Sean. The context. And it tells you something about the warped priorities of this president and this administration. They are always in perpetual campaign mode. They prefer being on the campaign trail stumping for whatever initiative, stumping for political purposes, and in this case, as you say, political payback.

That's what I call it. I think it's very clear and transparent and obvious that this is all about paying back the Daley machine. Richard M. Daley, the son of the famous boss of Chicago.

HANNITY: Michelle, I want to — can you connect the dots? I've read your article three times just to make sure that I understood it fully and completely. And you connect a lot of dots here and I want to do it step by step so the audience can understand this here. Because, you know, first of all, you know, he's going to Copenhagen. He's doing this.

We know the connection with Daley to the president to Axelrod, to Valerie Jarrett. Why don't you tie it together as you did in your article so people can understand it?

MALKIN: Well, this is all about the president's Chicago cronies. That's what this Olympic push is all about. And it starts with Richard M. Daley, the mayor of Chicago. He's been there since 1989. He would like to see this $5 billion party cap off his long grand tenure.

And it's a great way to white wash all of the city's ills in the Windy City and in Illinois for that matter. This tenure has been marked by graft, pay-for-play scandals, deteriorating public housing, schools that are a mess, and as you've pointed out and I've pointed out, Sean, a teen violence epidemic that is unabated that has not been helped by all these community organizers, et cetera, et cetera.

And so Richard M. Daley has been pushing the 2016 bid for the Summer Olympics. This has been his, quote-unquote, "vision." And he, along with all the cronies that have been installed in the White House, had made this their pet cause.

• Great American Blog: Should Obama be involved in bid?

HANNITY: Michelle, I want to get more specific. There's a very deep connection to Valerie Jarrett. Jarrett once worked for Mayor Daley. Jarrett then hired Michelle Obama before she was married to President Obama. Jarrett went on to serve as the president — you point this out in the article, and CEO of the Habitat Company, a real estate firm with a stake in these, you know, public-private housing project partnerships that existed at the time and more specifically, you know, this one place, Grove Park Plaza Apartments.

Take it from there. Explain how that relationship goes further.

MALKIN: Yes. Let me just explain about how deeply embedded Valerie Jarrett is with the Daley machine and the Obamas. She worked not only as the deputy chief of staff for Richard Daley but also as his legal counsel and as a city planning commissioner for him during his tenure.

She hired Michelle Obama as a mayoral assistant and of course, as we've talked about, Sean, they went on to work together at the University of Chicago Medical Center. And Michelle Obama and Barack Obama have depended and relied on Valerie Jarrett as their fixer, as their money shaker, as their influence peddler, as their consigliore.

HANNITY: For the constraints of time that we have, Jarrett then, after working for the mayor, went on to work as the CEO for this Habitat company, real estate firm with a massive stake in these federally subsidized Chicago housing projects. One of them was the Grove Park Plaza Apartments, correct?

MALKIN: That's right.

HANNITY: Now it was there they were run into the ground on her watch. Pick it up from there.

MALKIN: Yes. And federal inspectors graded this complex at the bottom of the barrel in terms of quality and the Boston Globe did a wonderful and unheralded piece investigation last year talking about the suffering of the tenants there. It was run into the ground under her tenure.

She refuses to talk about it. She hides behind all sorts of — some pose of confidentiality about what happened there. And it is a larger symbol and symptom of how public housing has completely gone to hell there.

HANNITY: Do you know how much money she.

MALKIN: And unfortunately — yes. Well, let me just say that it's...

HANNITY: Go ahead.

MALKIN: It sits in the shadow of where the Olympic stadium would be built. And that's not a coincidence.

HANNITY: All right. So this is my question. Do you know, specifically, how much money she made as a result of being with that real estate firm at that time which had connections to the Daley administration which had these public-private partnerships that she benefited from? These apartment complex goes into the ground.

One of the worst ratings she can have, now may become housing for the Olympics which they are talking about billions of dollars. The White House is claiming she wouldn't benefit financially at all from this. But are you saying her old company would and that they are using her connections? Is that your point?

MALKIN: Yes. And, look, there is no question that property values would rise and all of these developers would benefit from that. That's why they are lobbying so hard to bring it there in the first place. And even if she tells us that she has divested all of her properties, except for one, apparently, which I don't know if it's been named yet, but the lack of transparency and disclosure here and also the self-dealing is what we have to talk about.

This administration said it was going to be the strictest when it came to banning lobbying by its own officials. Yet, they granted a waiver for her. Now she is going to the Federal Housing and Urban Development Department to try and drum up funds for the Olympic village.

HANNITY: All right. So she's close to the Obamas.

MALKIN: That's taxes —

HANNITY: Right.

MALKIN: That's taxes that you and I will pay.

HANNITY: She works for Daley. She works for this real estate company. The public-private partnerships is run into the ground. I want to make sure I have the chronology correct here. She serves as the host of the bid — the 2016 bid to get the Olympics there.

This old company that she used to work for may benefit — and this is what I want to get into specifically — financially, because of the decline of these housing units. So they're going to demolish these. They would then make money and we have Robert Gibbs telling us there's a tangible economic benefit for the taxpayer.

Do I have this right?

MALKIN: That's right. And all you have to do is look at how these economic development boondoggles have worked in other cities. They will use eminent domain to clear all of this land, pushed poor people out, and build these sports palaces that will be empty after the Olympics.

HANNITY: And so —

MALKIN: That's how it always works.

HANNITY: So a lobbyist got into the White House. It appears to be somewhat successful. We were promised no lobbyists.

MALKIN: And she is just one of many.

HANNITY: All right. It's a fascinating connection story. We're going to continue to follow your reporting on it, Michelle. Thank you for being with us.

MALKIN: Thanks, Sean.

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