- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 11, 2008

Barack Obama” href=”/themes/?Theme=Barack+Obama” >President-elect Barack Obama said Thursday morning he has not been contacted by federal authorities in the investigation of Rod Blagojevich” href=”/themes/?Theme=Rod+Blagojevich” >Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and said nobody in his transition was involved in deal-making with the governor.

He said his office is gathering details of any staff contacts with the governor and will detail those in a few days.

“I had no contact with the governor’s office. I did not speak to the governor about these issues. That I know for certain,” the president-elect said at a Chicago press conference called to announce former Sen. Tom Daschle as his pick for secretary of health and human services.

“Our office had no involvement in any deal-making around my Senate seat. That I’m absolutely certain of. That would be a violation of everything this campaign is about,” Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday on charges of trying to sell the Senate seat Mr. Obama vacated after winning the presidential election. As governor, Mr. Blagojevich has the power to appoint a replacement to serve until the next election.

Mr. Obama called on Mr. Blagojevich to resign, saying that “the public trust has been violated, so let me be absolutely clear: I do not think the governor at this point can effectively serve the people of Illinois.”

Federal authorities have said Mr. Obama was not accused of wrongdoing.

He and Mr. Blagojevich never have been particularly close — a point underscored by the language the governor used in conversations caught by FBI wiretaps.

Mr. Obama on Thursday joked about that, telling reporters: “I won’t quote back some of the things that were said about me. This is a family program.”

On Thursday afternoon Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean also called for Mr. Blagojevich to resign, saying that if the charges are true, it is “a disgraceful abuse of the public trust.”

“In the interest of the people of Illinois and all Americans, he should resign immediately. If he does not, I hope the Illinois legislature will take action,” Mr. Dean said in a statement.