President-elect Barack Obama said Thursday he is confident that no member of his staff ever discussed a deal for his Senate seat with disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Obama also underscored his previous statement that he, personally, had no discussions about the seat he is vacating with the Democratic governor, who was arrested by federal agents this week in connection with an alleged “pay for play” corruption scheme.
“I was as appalled and disappointed as anyone,” Obama said at a news conference. “I have never spoken to the governor on this subject,” he said. “I am confident that no representative of mine” would have taken part in any such discussions,” he added.
He said “I think the public trust has been violated” and said he did not think that the governor “at this point can effectively serve Illinois.”
Meanwhile, the original intent of the press conference was to officially announce Obama’s choice of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to be his secretary of Health and Human Services.
Obama described the former South Dakota senator as “one of America’s foremost health care experts.” He recently wrote a book on his proposals to improve health care.
Daschle, who describes fixing health care as “our largest domestic policy challenge,” will also be overseeing a new White House Office of Health Reform. Jeanne Lambrew will serve as deputy director of that office and was also present at the press conference.