Seriously folks how dumb do you have to be to try & “sell or trade” the president-elect’s Senate seat. Blagojevich was already under investigation for his dealings with Tony Rezko. Bulldog U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald, of the Valerie Plame investigation, was the guy watching him. If you know anything about Fitzgerald than you know this is a guy who you should be walking on eggshells around if he’s got his eye on you. Yet Blago, who has been described as “like George W. Bush but not as bright”, decided he was going to try & extract something from the president-elect in return for naming Obama’s preferred candidate to his Senate seat (Obama, obviously, didn’t play ball). Here’s Blago yesterday saying he doesn’t think there’s anything hanging over his head & that he welcomes wiretapping:
Josh Marshall at TPM puts it best:
Even setting aside the primordial level of corruption of trying to sell the senate seat of the President-elect of the United States, I never fail to be amazed at the brazenness and stupidity of some political crooks. I mean, I think everyone involved in politics or interested in political corruption in the country had to know that Blagojevich’s phones were tapped and probably his offices were bugged, and that Pat Fitzgerald had him under the craziest level of scrutiny. And he tries to sell the senate seat with that hanging over his head? That’s simply amazing. I guess you could say he’s just a traditionalist, trying to keep up heritage of Chicago machine politics. But with some of these characters, it must just be pathological.
As usual for folks like Blago, the Senate seat stuff is just the tip of the iceberg he is also charged with “illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co.” I’d bet money he’ll be charged with some Rezko related wrongdoing at some point also. This clown also thought he might be able to run for prez in 2016. I repeat, this fool was under already investigation for stuff unrelated to Obama’s Senate seat & was pretty much living under the threat of indictment. Yet he still thought he could win the presidency one day. Pardon me, bwahahahahahah!, okay I’m done.
Something I don’t understand is why elected officials have to be pressured to step down from their posts. I get that it’s innocent until proven guilty but you can’t really “serve the people” while fighting criminal charges in court. All elected officials should have to resign their positions once a prosecutor brings charges against them. Especially if it involves political corruption or worse.
The hand wringing has already begun. I like Sam Stein, but geez. Fitzgerald specifically said the Obama was not being looked at for any wrongdoing :
He added that the complaint “makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever.” In one passage of the complaint, Mr. Blagojevich is quoted cursing Mr. Obama in apparent frustration that “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation.”
Stein himself says:
There is absolutely nothing in the affidavit to suggest that the SEIU (who did not immediately return request for comment) or Obama were aware of this scheming. But the taint — or at least the potential of taint — is very real.
Eh, sure the potential exists. The potential also exists that GW Bush’s terms as president will be looked at fondly in 50 years, but I wouldn’t bet a dollar on it. There is some evidence that Rahm Emmanuel may have been the person who tipped off the feds about Blago reaching out to Obama. That, of course, makes even less likely that Obama will feel any fallout from this stuff.
Big shout out to TPM for there usual great reporting.
TPM’s Greg Sargent reports that a source close to Rahm has denied any involvement by Emmanuel. Obama did have an hand in Blagojevich’s downfall though, indirectly & not in a way you might guess. According to the NY Times, Obama made a call to, mentor & president of the Illinois Senate, Emil Jones:
..to urge passage of a state ethics bill….
Mr. Jones was a critic of the legislation, which sought to curb the influence of money in politics, as was Mr. Blagojevich, who had vetoed it. But after the call from Mr. Obama, the Senate overrode the veto, prompting the governor to press state contractors for campaign contributions before the law’s restrictions could take effect on Jan. 1, prosecutors say.
Tipped off to Mr. Blagojevich’s efforts, federal agents obtained wiretaps for his phones and eventually overheard what they say was scheming by the governor to profit from his appointment of a successor to the United States Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Obama.
Unfortunately the rest of the article by Mike McIntire and Jeff Zeleny devolves from there. They deem it necessary to rehash any potentially embarrassing connections Obama had, even though we went over this stuff numerous times during the primary & the GE. It seems to be the media’s little game for the day.
Predictably there are already people telling Obama what he has to do.
A side note. I’ve been super duper gung-ho about investigating the Bush administration in light of all the other shit we have to deal with that they fucked up. But I think Hilzoy has this right:
Oh, and one more thing: it’s clearer than ever to me that Obama and the Congress should give Patrick Fitzgerald the job of investigating the Bush administration’s war crimes. Give him complete freedom from interference, and let the chips fall where they may.