UPDATE: Before you read Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet’s interviews of reporters who’ve doggedly followed the Tony Rezko story, and haven’t been able to get straight answers from Barack Obama — watch this from MSNBC’s Tucker, a fascinating account of the Obama home purchase (Rezko’s wife, without any apparent funds of her own, purchased the empty lot next door the same day). The video includes Obama’s dissembling, somewhat testy attempts to explain away his involvement today before a horde of inquisitive reporters in San Antonio. Obama ended the “presser” (Fox News report) before the reporters could ask enough questions. (All three network news shows tonight featured the “mayhem” at Obama’s San Antonio press conference, and questions about both Rezko and Nafta-gate.) As ABC News’s blog Political Radar noted:
Sen. Obama, D-Ill., went through the motions repeating point blank details that were already known about their controversial history. … […]
Then the specific questions came. When asked twice about fundraisers, with details, who was there and how many, Obama did not answer. …
See also: “How to Buy a Mansion You Can’t Afford,” by City Nell, in which she shows how Michelle Obama used her influence to get the home. NOW, back to the original story, with Lynn Sweet:
Here what David Axelrod said on Sunday, during an interview on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
STEPHANOPOULOS: Before you go there, David, let me just follow up on one point, because Lynn Sweet writes in the Chicago Sun-Times, I believe it was yesterday, that in fact Senator Obama has not sat down with the Chicago reporters who are most familiar with the Rezko case. Is he willing to do that, or is Ms. Sweet wrong, in your opinion?
AXELROD: I think she is wrong. We’ve talked to reporters from — and he’s talked to reporters from both papers several times in several sessions about this, and each time the conclusion is the same:
There’s no evidence of any wrongdoing related to Mr. Rezko.
I showed the above to the reporters who cover the Rezko-Obama story. For the record, here’s what they said.
Sun-Times Reporter Tim Novak
“David Axelrod has never talked to me, Fusco or Mckinney about Obama. Neither has Obama. All we’ve gotten are responses to written questions, and who knows who actually answered those. And occassionally we talk to (Bill) Burton. But the point is that Obama himself has never sat down and discussed these questions about Rezko.”
Sun-Times Reporter Chris Fusco:
“Tim is absolutely right about that one.”
Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney:
“Well, I know Chris and I have never had a sit-down interview with Obama. Axelrod might be referring to the December 2006 Q and A, but as you know those were written questions and written responses. I believe Tim’s experience was identical when he wrote about Rezko’s slum properties. Axelrod would have been more accurate, perhaps, had he said today that Obama has “communicated” with reporters (through spokesmen and a Q and A). But he hasn’t spoken to us directly about this. You are right. Axelrod is wrong.”
Thought you’d all get a kick out of that. (WordPress won’t let me double-blockquote, so you need to know that all of the above-the-fold material comes from Sweet’s blog.)
Want more background on Rezko? See my story from this morning with key breaking news.
Read more stories here at NoQuarter on Obama and Rezko.
Don’t miss stories like City Nell’s investigative piece — which highlights the involvement of Michelle Obama — “How to Buy a Mansion You Can’t Afford.”