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Obama & Blago -- It Begins
Inauguration Day is more than a month away and Obama can add the Blago
scandal to all the other "distractions" he has to deal with.
Obama is surrounded by more scandals than Nixon, Clinton and a dozen
other corrupt politicians combined and he's not even in office
yet, and these things aren't going to go way.
He will be so busy playing "cover-your-ass," he will be unable to
govern. His entire administration will be on damage control from
day one, and eventually, this will all crumble around him.
Affirmative action is a wonderful thing.
|There's Just Nothing There
|The Chicago Sun-Times is
reporting that Judge James Zagel denies a defense request to gain
access to the FBI report summarizing then president-elect Obama's 2008
interview with federal investigators.
Defense lawyers argued in a
filing last week that the government minimized Obama's knowledge of the
then-Governor's attempts to horsetrade for the Senate seat appointment.
They said that testimony by government witness John Harris contradicted
that portrayal by federal prosecutors.
Harris testified last
week that Blagojevich believed Obama knew about Blagojevich's request
for a presidential cabinet appointment in exchange for appointing
Valerie Jarrett to the
Zagel said there was nothing relevant concerning
Harris's testimony that would allow the defense access to Obama's
"There's just nothing there," Zagel said.
their filing last week, defense lawyers argued that it was the
government's own witnesses and evidence who raised the issue of Obama's
knowledge of the Senate seat dealings.
"Testimony elicited by the
government from John Harris and wiretaps played in court raise the issue
of President Obama's direct knowledge and communication with emissaries
and others regarding the appointment to his senate seat," lawyers wrote
in the filing.
|Did Obama Try to Cover Up His Blago
says that as the Obama team left for Christmas vacation in December
2008, they issued a report on its internal investigation (the
administration has continued its habit of exonerating itself of scandals
such as the Andrew Romanoff and Joe Sestak job offers) denying that
Obama had any contact with Gov. Rod Blagojevich or his staff on the
subject of his Senate replacement. Greg Craigís memo stated:
The accounts support your statement on
December 11, 2008 that you "have never spoken to the Governor on
this subject [or] about these issues," and that you "had no contact
with the Governorís office." In addition, the accounts contain
no indication of inappropriate discussions with the Governor or
anyone from his office about a "deal" or a quid pro quo arrangement
in which he would receive a personal benefit in return for any
specific appointment to fill the vacancy. Ö The
President-Elect had no contact or communication with Governor
Blagojevich or members of his staff about the Senate seat. In
various conversations with transition staff and others, the
President-Elect expressed his preference that Valerie Jarrett work
with him in the White House. He also stated that he would
neither stand in her way if she wanted to pursue the Senate seat nor
actively seek to have her or any other particular candidate
appointed to the vacancy.
Under oath, a union official at Blagoís trial has
now testified that Obama made his preferences clear:
In testimony at Blagojevichís federal
corruption trial, Tom Balanoff said Obama -- speaking a day before
his Nov. 8, 2008 triumph in the presidential election -- said that
[Valerie] Jarrett wanted the job and was qualified, although he
wanted her to join him in the White House. Balanoff, a close
Obama ally and top official with the Service Employees International
Union in Chicago, said Blagojevich countered by suggesting Obama
appoint him Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Robert Gibbs brushed off inquiries on the testimony --
hasnít been keeping up with the trial, he says. This is ludicrous.
Either the transition team and the president-elect werenít straight with
the American public or Balanoff lied under oath. And Obama is a
potential witness, perhaps the only one who can help the jury decide
which it is. This is not a small matter.
Now was Greg Craig
playing it cute when he said that the "President-elect had no contact or
communication," because Obama wasnít president-elect when the call was
made? Well, no. In his introductory paragraph, he says
Obamaís statement that he "never" had contact with Blago was true.
Were they playing a Clinton-esque word game, given that Balanoff was an
emissary but not on Blagoís staff? Perhaps, but whatever Craig was
trying to pull, Obama gave the country the distinct impression that he
had no communications with the Blago camp on the Senate pick.
Washington press corps rolled over when the incident first surfaced and
showed zero interest in following up on the many questions the review
left open. The media can redeem themselves by refusing to allow
Gibbs to get away with his usual dodge-the-tricky-questions game.
And Obama, when next he appears, should be queried on whether he really
did talk to Blagoís union pal and whether he later tried to deceive the
The unpleasant image of Chicago pols running
their backroom deals before and after they arrived in the Oval Office is
not one that Obama wants to take hold. He is low on credibility
these days, and refusing to put this matter to rest isnít going to
improve things. Itís time to come clean -- on this and the Sestak
and Romanoff deals.
|Obama Isn't There, But. . .
|...his name comes up a lot at the Rod
Blagojevich trial, according to Mark Guarino.
Obama may be
elsewhere, dealing with issues like the BP oil spill and Americaís
financial recovery, but his presence is still very much felt at the
federal trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
District Judge James Zagel spared Obama from the trial in downtown
Chicago, ruling out an early defense request that he testify. But
Obama is often the subject of daily testimony by Chicago political
This week, jurors have been listening to testimony and
taped conversations that prosecutors say show Mr. Blagojevich was trying
to profit from his power to appoint a senator. Obama vacated one
of Illinoisís US Senate seats after he was elected president.
Blagojevichís defense says that Obama, through different emissaries, was
a participant in the backdoor, and often crass, negotiations about
giving the seat to Obama friend and current White House adviser Valerie
Chicago lawyer Andrew Stoltmann says that Obama, like
many figures connected to the stateís political theater, is doing his
best to distance himself from the trial because it "exposes the seedy
underbelly of Illinois politics."
"I can guarantee you that
Barack Obama doesnít want to be anywhere near that mix. I donít
think it helps him. I think it makes Obama look like the old-style
politician he doesnít want to be," Mr. Stoltmann says.
here . . .
|Blago Trial Could Singe White House
|It's the trial the White House hopes you wonít
The federal corruption saga of former Illinois Gov. Rod
Blagojevich has been rattling along during the sweltering Chicago
summer, offering a daily dose of low-grade theatrics, low-impact
bombshells and low-brow humor.
The top White House officials --
Barack Obama, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Senior Adviser
Valerie Jarrett -- haven't been too badly bruised so far, by Chicago
standards at least, even as federal prosecutors air wiretaps of
Blagojevich's ugliest private conversations about them.
despite the trial's Jerry Springer start, the threat of political damage
remains serious for all of them -- and another Democrat as well, Rep.
Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.). On Wednesday, prosecutors attached
Jacksonís name to allegations of a $1 million pay-to-play scheme for
Obama's Senate seat -- though Jackson has categorically denied any
wrongdoing since Blagojevich's December 2008 arrest and he has not been
accused of any illegal activity.
Obama -- who crusaded against
government-by-crony -- was dragged into the proceedings last week when a
top Chicago labor official testified that Obama tapped him to talk to
Blagojevich about the Senate seat.
here . . .
|Feds Were Really After Obama
|Warner Todd Huston
says disgraced Democrat Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois is at
it again. In an interview with ABC News, Blago tried to, and
clumsily at that, allude to the fact that federal prosecutors were
pressuring him to out Obama as a part of the governorís Senate Seat for
Blago told ABC News, "when they had me in custody
they were very clear about how they wanted me to cooperate and talk
about people in higher places." He went on to say that there
arenít "a lot of positions higher than governor," naturally leading to
the assumption that he meant Obama was under scrutiny. But when pressed
if he meant Obama, Blago wouldnít go that far.
But this would be
a new found reticence because back in 2009 Blago was more than happy to
tell anyone that would listen that the Feds wanted him to rat on Obama.
On a video made at a book signing party at Columbia College, Blago
was heard seen saying the following:
"Öpart of what they wanted was shit on
Obama. They lock you up. They do this shock and awe
bullshit. They arrest everybody ok, and then they sit you down
and say Ď'you are a nice guy. We want to work with you.
What can you tell us about Obama.'"
Once again we see the mental gymnastics of the
troubled Rod Blagojevich. Clearly in his mind he is an innocent
pawn in a conspiracy to topple Obama. Iím sure he sees himself as
the hero that saved Obamaís presidency.
Blagoís conviction on one
count of lying to the feds was a close call. Only two jurors
refused to agree with the rest on one of the more damaging counts, that
of racketeering -- and they even agreed that he was guilty on that
charge until the last day of deliberations after which they abruptly
changed their minds.
Blago will likely serve time on the one
conviction but this isnít the end of the courtís efforts because judge
Zagel has said he still plans to schedule a retrial on the other counts.
Maybe this interview is Blagoís thinly disguised warning to Obama
that he could still spill the beans if Obama allows the Justice
Department to retry him? Is Blago trying to blackmail Obama here?
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