On Inclusion, Transparency, and Corruption

Obamas public liaison and friend gives insight on the transition

message to the people of America that this administration will put them first.

The cabinet is filling out very nicely. Many of the men and women chosen recently were remnants from the Clinton administration. Some say those choices fly in the face of Obama’s message of change. In helping to choose and vet those individuals, how did you reconcile Obama’s mantra of change with the country’s need for experience during these perilous economic times?

I think you hit the nail on the head. I wouldn’t describe them as remnants of the Clinton administration. Take somebody like Susan Rice, who was extraordinary in the U.S. State Department when she served under President Clinton. Now Obama has appointed her to a different position, but one which will go along with the experience that she had under Clinton and which she has gathered over the last eight years. I think when he describes change he is looking for people who believe in his philosophy of putting America first.

The fact that many have had experience in prior administrations—whether it is from Clinton’s administration or in the case of Defense Secretary Bob Gates, the Bush administration, or from the private sector –doesn’t mean that the people aren’t philosophically committed to the same vision that the president-elect has for our country.

Look at Sen. [Hillary] Clinton, who was obviously an integral part of the Clinton administration. But he believes that she understands what it is he is looking for. He is very clear that he is the President of the United States. In the interview process, what he is looking for are people who have experience that they can bring to the table. They should not be penalized if they happened to serve in a prior administration.

You have been described as a problem solver during the campaign and now as co-chairwoman of the Obama transition team. How are you dealing with the problems surrounding Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the possible links to the transition team?

There is no link. The president-elect asked that there be a review of his transition staff and any contact that they may have had with the governor. That review has been conducted and completed, and it’s ready for release. The review affirms the public statements that the president-elect made last week: that he had no contact with the governor’s staff and the president-elect’s staff was not involved in any inappropriate discussions with the governor’s staff. That has been reaffirmed with the results of that analysis.

Gregg Craig who is serving as council to the president-elect in the course of the transition has been keeping the U.S Attorney’s Office informed of our fact-gathering process as it has been going along to ensure that we fully cooperate with the investigation.

There are a lot of people who have tried, during the campaign and now, to get close to President-elect Obama– people with both good and bad intentions. How do you weed out the good from the bad?

The goal of his administration is to be inclusive, to bring people

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  • I would like to know more about the Transitional team of President elect Mr. Obama. I would like to start one in Dallas, Texas. I think this is a good idea. However, This is a good way the people of Dallas can come and share their concerns and we can take this concerns to our elected officials. please advise.

    john wynn