CHICAGO - President-elect Barack Obama had no direct contact with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich about the appointment of a Senate replacement and his aides had "no inappropriate discussions," a spokesman for Obama's transition office said yesterday.

The spokesman, Dan Pfeiffer, said that the internal review would be kept confidential at least until next week at the request of federal prosecutors "in order not to impede their investigation of the governor."

Controversy has swirled around Obama and his incoming White House chief of staff, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, following Blagojevich's arrest last week on charges of scheming to trade Obama's Senate seat for personal gain.

In the statement, Pfeiffer said that incoming White House counsel Gregory Craig, who conducted the internal review, has kept federal prosecutors informed of its progress.

The brief statement left several issues uncovered.

It did not say whether Emanuel had been heard on a wiretap providing the governor's top aide with a list of names that Obama favored.

Nor did it say who, if anyone, on Obama transition's team had contacted the governor or his aides concerning a replacement for Obama or whether Craig had interviewed people under oath, or with whom he talked.

Obama's staff has declined to respond to even basic questions, like how long the review would take, who was leading it and what issues were being explored.

The public will have to wait for details until next week, when few will be paying close attention because of Christmas and Obama's plans to celebrate in Hawaii - far away from Chicago, the focal point of the federal probe. *