Rezko's Other Friend
Submitted By Todd on December 10th at 12:28am
business as usual?
Blagojevich was caught on wiretaps noting that the Senate seat "is a fucking valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."Weren't we talking during the presidential race how Hillary was looking for a promise of money help from Barack before she'd play along? Is it all that different from the Governor of Illinois saying he wants a plum appointment in exchange for putting Barack's choice into power.
He was also recorded saying that unless "I get something real good," he would appoint himself to the vacancy. "I'm going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain. You hear what I'm saying. And if I don't get what I want and I'm not satisfied with it, then I'll just take the Senate seat myself."Okay, a Senate job belongs to the people, and the fundraising partnership between Barack and Hillary is a private thing, but does anyone doubt that this is how these things are often done? At first glance, it's hard to imagine Obama being drawn into something like this. He has, presumably, avoided Blagojevich like the plague since their mutual money man, Tony Rezko, was indicted. However, it's not inconceivable for the president's team to have talked with the Governor about making a deal before ultimately backing away.
According to surreptitiously recorded conversations, Blagojevich spoke with associates about the possibility of trading the Senate post for either an ambassadorship or a Cabinet post.Prosecutor Fitzgerald, in his press conference today, made clear that there was no accusation being made regarding bad behavior on the part of the Prez Elect. However, ABC's Jake Tapper reports that Barack has been tight with the Governor in the past.
.... Mr. Obama has a relationship with Mr. Blagojevich, having not only endorsed Blagojevich in 2002 and 2006, but having served as a top adviser to the Illinois governor in his first 2002 run for the state house.While Obama was tight with Blago, chief handler David Axelrod smelled trouble.
"He had been my client and I had a very good relationship with him, but I didn't sign on to the governor's race," Axelrod told the New Yorker. "Obviously he won, but I had concerns about it...I was concerned about whether he was ready for that. Not so much for the race but for governing. I was concerned about some of the folks -- I was concerned about how the race was being approached."Barack was not so smart.
In the Summer of 2006, then-U.S. Sen. Obama backed Blagojevich even though there were serious questions at the time about Blago's hiring practices. At the time, numerous state agencies had had records subpoenaed, with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald telling authorities he was looking into "very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud" with a "number of credible witnesses." "If I received information that made me believe that any Democrat had not been acting in the public interest, I'd be concerned," Obama said. That said, Mr. Obama said, "If the governor asks me to work on his behalf, I'll be happy to do it." Apparently the governor did. At the Illinois State Fair in August 2006, Obama spoke on Blagojevich's behalf. "We've got a governor in Rod Blagojevich who has delivered consistently on behalf of the people of Illinois," Obama told the crowd.Has the President-elect's office been talking with the Governor's office? Tapper says no.
There are no allegations that President-elect Obama or anyone close to him had anything to do with any of the crimes Gov. Blagojevich is accused of having committed. In fact, there are indications that Mr. Obama and his team refused to go along with the "pay to play" way Blagojevich is accused of operating, offering only "gratitude" if the governor appointed his friend Valerie Jarrett to take his U.S. Senate seat, much to the governor's chagrin.David Axelrod, however, is now refuting his own statement of two weeks ago that Barack was talking with Blagojevich about who would fill his Senate seat.
"I was mistaken when I told an interviewer last month that the President-elect has spoken directly to Governor Blagojevich about the Senate vacancy. They did not then or at any time discuss the subject."Fortunately, if Barack is innocent of any wrongdoing, that will likely be proven by the evidence, as this case is built on wiretaps. Those wiretaps include Blagojevich expressing frustration over the PE's office being unwilling to be bribed.
A week after the election, the charges cite a conversation with his chief of staff, John Harris, in which Blagojevich said he knew that backers of Obama wanted "Senate Candidate 1" for the open seat but "they're (the President Elect's Office) not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them."However the story may develop regarding Barack's ability to keep himself separate from the corrupt Governor, the matter serves to demonstrate the danger of electing relative unknowns to the presidency.