Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blago on Tape: "We Could Get Something" for Obama's Senate Seat

Rod Blagojevich, ex-Governor of Illinois, is on trial for racketeering and for "scheming to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat President Obama gave up" following his election to the presidency. He's facing "up to $6 million in fines and a sentence of 415 years in prison." Blago says he's not guilty.

A tape of a conversation between Blago and his former chief of staff, John Harris, isn't improving Blago's chances of staying out of the slammer, nor is it increasing the comfort level of either Rahm Emanuel or Barack Obama.

From Bob Secter at the Chicago Tribune, via the Backyard Conservative, who is keeping a good eye on the unfolding of this trial:
On Nov. 2, two days before the election, Harris said he was shopping for shoes with his son when he got a cell phone call from Rahm Emanuel, the North Side congressman who was soon to become Obama’s chief of staff.

Harris said Emanuel told him Obama was interested in having a close friend nominated to the Senate. Emanuel didn’t mention a name, but Harris said it was clear he was referring to Valerie Jarrett, the former chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority who is now a top White House adviser.

“He wanted to convey to me that (Obama) had a preference,” Harris said.

The next day, Harris said he spoke to Blagojevich on the phone and mentioned the conversation with Emanuel. Harris and Blagojevich didn’t know it, but government agents were recording the conversation, which was played in court today.

On the call, Harris told Blagojevich that Emanuel had asked whether it would be helpful for him to have Obama call. Harris told Emanuel “yes,” that Obama should if he were interested.

“He wouldn’t leave it to osmosis or to the media,” Harris said of Obama. “So you may get a call from him.”

“It sounds as though – if you believe Rahm – that he (Obama) very much cares about it,” Harris told Blagojevich.

Almost immediately, Blagojevich asked, “We could get something for that, couldn’t we?”
Later on the recorded call, Blagojevich asked Harris, "What do I have a shot at getting?"
Harris answered that they should at least start the process. “How about Human Services, can I get that?” Blagojevich said of the cabinet post.

If Obama was willing to call, “Yeah,” Harris answered.

The two talked about floating then-Illinois Senate President Emil Jones as a bargaining chip, and Blagojevich threw out two other names: “Bill Daley, Lisa Madigan.”

Daley is the former commerce secretary and brother of Mayor Richard Daley. Madigan is the Illinois attorney general and daughter of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, Blagojevich’s political nemesis.

Blagojevich then asked whether it should be leaked to Sun-Times gossip columnist Michael Sneed that the pick could be Lisa Madigan. Sneed did indeed print such an item shortly thereafter.

Blagojevich also asked Harris to look up who else had been Health and Human Services secretary. “Did Obama promise it to somebody else?” Blagojevich asked.

The two agreed what Blagojevich said in public about the vacancy should indicate that Blagojevich was very interested in supporting the Obama agenda in deciding how to fill the seat and that Blagojevich very much wanted to hear who Obama had in mind as his replacement.
Americans can expect plenty of "distraction" to keep their minds off this trial. That's all the more reason to pay it some attention.


  1. BO sure does have some outstanding people in his life.

  2. Trestin - They stand out all right!