From NBC's Mark Murray and Chuck Todd
While making clear that Obama and his team had no inappropriate contact regarding the vacant Senate seat, the report does note Obama's preferences to succeed him.
After Valerie Jarrett withdrew her name from consideration for the Senate seat, the report says, Obama discussed other "qualified" candidates with incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and senior adviser David Axelrod. They were Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., state comptroller Dan Hynes, and Tammy Duckworth, director of the state's department of veterans' affairs.
Emanuel then relayed those names to Blagojevich's chief of staff, John Harris. The report says in subsequent phone calls, Emanuel -- with Obama's approval -- recommended state Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson as "qualified candidates" to Harris.
One passage that raised our eyebrows here: "In these conversations, Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Harris discussed the merits of potential candidates and the strategic benefit that each candidate would bring to the Senate seat." What does Greg Craig mean in his report by "strategic benefit"?