Obama to release report on governor

MONDAY, DEC. 22, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama will make public by Tuesday a report detailing his staff’s contacts with Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who has been accused of trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat that Obama resigned, Democratic officials said Sunday.

Release of the report, which was finished last week, was held up at the request of the U.S. attorney investigating Blagojevich. But two Democratic sources said the Obama team expects to make it public today or Tuesday.

Last week, Obama told reporters that the report found no “inappropriate” contact between his staff and Blagojevich or his staff. But Obama and his aides have declined to offer details, including whether chief of staff-designate Rahm Emanuel discussed the Senate seat with the Illinois governor.

George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC News’ Sunday talk show “This Week,” said on the show that Emanuel spoke once with Blagojevich and four times with the governor’s chief of staff, John Harris. Citing Democratic sources, Stephanopoulos said the report will clear Emanuel of wrongdoing.

Task force to focus on middle class

As vice president, Joe Biden will oversee an Obama administration effort to find ways of building up the ranks of the middle class, that ambiguously defined segment of society most Americans identify with.

The task force will include four Cabinet members as well as other presidential advisers, the Obama team announced Sunday.

The goal is to recommend proposals to ensure the middle class is “no longer being left behind,” Biden said. Proposals could include executive orders and legislative plans.

“Our charge is to look at existing and future policies across the board and use a yard stick to measure how they are impacting the working and middle-class families,” Biden said in a statement Sunday.

Frank critical of invocation choice

The longest-serving openly gay member of Congress said Sunday it was a mistake for President-elect Barack Obama to invite the Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration.

“Mr. Warren compared same-sex couples to incest. I found that deeply offensive and unfair,” Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said Sunday.

“If he was inviting the Rev. Warren to participate in a forum and to make a speech, that would be a good thing,” Frank said. “But being singled out to give the prayer at the inauguration is a high honor. … And, yes, I think it was wrong to single him out for this mark of respect.”

Warren, a best-selling author and leader of a California megachurch, is a popular evangelical who stresses the need for action on issues such as reducing poverty and protecting the environment, alongside traditional theological themes.

But gay rights advocates are angry over Warren’s backing of a California ballot initiative banning gay marriage.

From wire reports


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