Obama to Detail Contact With Gov. Blagojevich

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Barack Obama has said that when all is revealed, it will be clear that neither he nor his staff had any contacts with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich that could be considered improper.

The president-elect's office says it will release on Monday the promised report giving a full accounting of those contacts, and Obama aides say the official under the most scrutiny -- Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel -- will be exonerated after weeks of innuendo that they have long said was unfair.

Journalists, readers and viewers may be busy wrapping presents, lighting their menorahs or just eating when the report is released -- while Mr. Obama is in Hawaii and out of public view.

But there will be no revelations worth burying during the holidays anyway, transition sources say.

Nobody has accused Mr. Obama or his staff of legal wrongdoing. But the transition team's sometimes awkward handling of the issue has raised anticipation of just what the report might say -- and what the fallout might be.

The day of Mr. Blagojevich's arrest, the president-elect said he couldn't comment on the governor's alleged efforts to sell Mr. Obama's vacated Senate seat. The next day, he did comment, calling for Mr. Blagojevich's resignation and offering assurances that neither he nor his aides were involved in any deal making.

Then he promised to account for any and all contacts between his staff and the governor's, setting a release within days. Finally, he said the account was complete, but he wouldn't release it until Christmas week.

The slow dribble "hurt him slightly," because it made him look like an ordinary politician in scandal mode, not the antipolitician people believed they voted for, said Ron Bonjean, a Republican consultant who dealt with scandals affecting then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Joe Lockhart, a former White House press secretary who dealt with Clinton-era scandals, said Mr. Obama was right to play it safe with the release of the contacts, to make sure the accounting is complete.

"At this point, they have the benefit of the doubt when they say, 'We don't think we know anything, but we'll look,' " Mr. Lockhart said. But if reporters find contacts the Obama team either missed or left out, the terms will change. "When you're caught you're seen as fast and loose," he said.

Regardless of how clean the Obama camp is, the release of the report isn't likely to be clean. Thursday, former President Bill Clinton released a list of 205,000 donors -- many of them foreign governments -- to his foundation, which he had promised to do as a condition for his wife Sen. Hillary Clinton's nomination as secretary of state. That set off a scramble to tie donors to policy predicaments facing the Obama administration.

The coming Blagojevich release will have the same effect.

"The contacts are a potential Pandora's box," Mr. Bonjean said. "They'll take reporters in all different directions, like having dozens of little rabbits running around the White House."