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President-elect Barack Obama says he will release in a matter of days the results of an internal investigation into what conversations his aides and advisers may have had with embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The internal probe, which aides described as thorough, is looking to root out every contact between Obama’s camp and Blagojevich’s camp, according to the Obama camp. There was no clear timeline for the self-investigation to end, although Obama told reporters Thursday he would make the results public during "the next few days."
Obama sought to end questions about whether members of his staff were involved in Blagojevich’s alleged schemes to sell Obama’s vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder. Prosecutors have said repeatedly Obama was not involved, something Obama repeated at a news conference Thursday.
"I have never spoken to the governor on this subject," Obama said Thursday, announcing his picks for top aides on health care issues. "I’m confident that no representatives of mine would have any part of any deals related to this seat. I think the materials released by the U.S. attorney reflect that fact."
Just in case, he’s still checking everyone out. It wasn’t clear who would run such an investigation. An Obama spokesman declined to detail the investigation’s leaders.
Obama said he was "absolutely certain" that "our office had no involvement in any deal-making around my Senate seat." But he raised questions about how he could be so certain when he said he plans "to gather all the facts about any staff contacts that I might — may have — that may have taken place between the transition office and the governor’s office."
Obama ran a presidential campaign centered on changing the way Washington works, empowering grass-roots activists and inspiring service.
The Democratic president-elect was well aware what faced him: "Finally, on this matter, let me say that this Senate seat does not belong to any politician to trade. It belongs to the people of Illinois, and they deserve the best possible representation."
At the news conference to introduce former Sen. Tom Daschle as his secretary of Health and Human Services, Obama said he has not spoken to investigators. He was less clear whether investigators sought to have conversations with his aides.
"I have not been contacted by any federal officials," Obama said. "And we have not been interviewed by them."