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Obama frustrated by Blago speculation

From NBC's Athena Jones

Obama told reporters he was frustrated at being unable to correct speculation in the media about conversations members of his transition team may have had with the office of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is facing corruption charges that include an allegation that he sought to trade the president-elect's vacated Senate seat for personal gain.

Video: President-elect Obama says he's abiding by a request from the U.S. Attorney not to speak about the Blagojevich investigation, but expects to release more information as soon as next week.

"It's a little bit frustrating. There's been a lot of speculation in the press that I would love to correct immediately," Obama said when asked "how difficult" it was to have to wait to release an internal review his team has completed regarding contacts staffers had with the governor's office.
"We are abiding by the request of the U.S. attorney's office," he continued. "But it's not going to be that long. By next week you guys will have the answers to all your questions."

It's the fifth time the president-elect has addressed the Blagojevich matter before the press since the governor was arrested last week.

Though he has refused to go into detail about the who on his team may have had contact with the governor's office -- citing a desire to cooperate with the ongoing federal investigation -- Obama has repeatedly said that he had no contact with Blagojevich or his office and that no members of his team had engaged in any improper contact with the governor's office.

Frustrated or not, the issue is not likely to go away until several questions are answered, among them: which members of Obama's team spoke with Blagojevich's staff about the Senate seat, the extent of that contact and whether anyone on the president-elect's team knew of any illegal attempt by the governor to trade the vacated seat.

Obama used his 11th press conference since being elected to announce Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar as his choice to head the Interior Department and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack for secretary of agriculture.

In their remarks, Obama and his designees focused on the importance of promoting clean energy and biofuels, reducing the country's dependence of foreign oil and expanding opportunities in rural areas.

Salazar, who wore a cowboy hat to the press conference, is the second Latino to be named to the Cabinet, following New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson who was Obama's pick for commerce secretary.

Vilsack is the fourth former contender for the Democratic nomination in this year's election to join Obama's team, following Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Richardson.

Cowboy hat etiquette
NBC's Abby Livingston
adds that on Salazar wearing his cowboy hat indoors, First Read consulted David Courtney, who writes a Texas Monthly column that is a cross between Emily Post and the New York Times' Ethicist.

He agrees with NBC's Pete Williams, who writes that "real cowboys don't wear their hats indoors, unless they're at a square dance or maybe an indoor livestock auction."

"It's more accepted now," Courtney said, "but his mother probably would have told him not to do that."