Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blagojevich Scandal: What Did Obama Know, and When Did He Know It?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008 7:04 PM

By: David A. Patten

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich wanted “something big” from the Obama administration in return for naming its preferred candidate to fill Obama’s Senate seat — and he delivered an expletive-filled tirade when Obama’s representatives apparently refused to go along.

Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested Tuesday on charges that they tried to “sell” the U.S. Senate seat that Obama recently vacated. Under Illinois law, naming a replacement falls to Blagojevich.

The FBI says it taped Blagojevich complaining that Obama advisers were telling him that he had to “suck it up . . . and give this mother----er [the President-elect]] his senator. F--- him. For nothing? F--- him.”

Obama briefly addressed the arrests Tuesday afternoon, telling the media, “I had no contact with the governor or his office and so I was not aware of what was happening. It’s a sad day for Illinois. Beyond that, I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment.”

The criminal complaint was announced Tuesday by federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who came to national prominence during the investigation that led to the conviction of Scooter Libby on charges related to the Valerie Plame case.

Fitzgerald stated Tuesday that “there is no allegation in the complaint that the president-elect was aware of it and that is all I can say,” according to

The 76-page criminal complaint refers to the president-elect and his representatives at least 40 times, however.

Announcing the charges before Blagojevich appointed a senator -- and before Obama takes office -- was a clever move by Fitzgerald, a Republican appointee who would be expected to resign under a new administration. Fitzgerald's nomination -- by Obama's predecessor, Peter (No Relation) Fitzgerald -- was considered a thumb in the eye to the Chicago Machine. Cook County Democrats covet control over the U.S. attorney's office, because it's the only law enforcement body with the independence to look for sleaze in local government.

There's little doubt that Chicago Democrats were thrilled about having a Chicago Democrat in a position to appoint the next U.S. attorney. Now Fitzgerald may be impossible to get rid of. He's popular with liberals, because he convicted Scooter Libby of perjury and obstruction of justice in the Valerie Plame affair. And replacing him with a Democrat in the middle of the Blagojevich case may look like a sellout to Illinois' corrupt political culture.

As Fitzgerald noted, he didn't want to wait until "March or April" to file the complaint. Because if he hadn't filed it, he might not have been around in March or April.

Fitzgerald was responsible for the Family Secrets trial in 2007 against the Outfit -- an unprecedented mob prosecution in the city's history -- and also prosecuted Gambino boss John Gotti when he was an AUSA in New York. Speaking of Fitzgerald an FBI agent told the Chicago Tribune:

"If we lose him, we lose everything," said a Chicago FBI agent wise in the ways of Chicago politics and its symbiosis with the Chicago mob. "I can't imagine it happening. He's the guy who pulls the trigger on all these investigations. If it happens, if they get rid of him, forget it."

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1 comment:

The Yellow Porcupine said...

Blagojevich would be the perfect running mate for Sarah Palin. BTW, I live in Alaska, so I've had a good long look at SP.