Thanks to a computer glitch, we now know that the feds in Chicago have been trying to feed President Obama for months into the Blagojevich matter. They have gone after every other Democratic politician in Chicago—except the office of Mayor Daley, where a cousin of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald works as one of the mayor’s top aides—and have gone after a number of the more unprepossessing Republican candidates, usually in primary season. Now it appears that the federal prosecutors working overtime to justify Fitzgerald’s stunt arrest of Blagojevich have passed frequent references to the president in documents to defense counsel.
Blagojevich’s lawyers have now exposed that quiet behind-the-scenes campaign: Some of the references to Obama passed along by the Northern District of Illinois surfaced Thursday in a defense attempt to subpoena the president to testify at Blagojevich’s trial, scheduled to begin June 3.
The unredacted defense motion, posted by the Chicago Sun-Times among other outlets, is linked here.
Two main inferences are included: one is that Obama was involved in some discussions, or mentions, of potential candidates for the senate seat he was vacating; and the other is that convicted political donor Antoin ‘Tony’ Rezko is saying bad things about Obama.
Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.
The senate seat
Regarding the next holder of Obama’s senate seat, a labor union official told the FBI and “two U.S. Attorneys” that he spoke with Obama by phone on election eve—Nov. 3, 2008—and that they discussed “Senate Candidate B,” reportedly White House advisor Valerie Jarrett, favorably. The labor union official spoke with Jarrett herself on Election Day, Jarrett told investigators, and said he would push for Jarrett’s selection with Blagojevich. The next day, in one of thousands of wiretapped phone calls, Blagojevich told his chief of staff that the labor union official had gotten in touch with him, according to the prosecutors. (Blagojevich was tape-recorded complaining loudly that Obama had not given him anything, according to prosecutors.)
It is not alleged that Jarrett had a lock on the seat. Further mentions of Obama in connection with a candidate for the senate seat include John Harris telling the FBI that he discussed a “Senate Candidate A” with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and prosecutors indicate that Emanuel himself confirmed to the FBI that “Senate Candidate A” was discussed favorably. Again, not a lock: Emanuel also told the FBI that on December 7, 2008, he and Obama discussed other potential senate candidates. Prosecutors say that John Harris’s phone log the next day, Dec. 8, shows that Harris got a call from Emanuel, that Emanuel told investigators that Obama had “expressed concern” about another senate candidate, and that Emanuel had suggested a “Senate Candidate E” (Cheryle Jackson, head of the Chicago Urban League).
It is a certainty, and a given, that people around Obama were interested in who would get his vacated senate seat; the senate seat was an inevitable topic of conversation, in all the jazz of a triumphant election. It would be odd if no one around the President-elect had discussed it. It would be odder still, to the point of impossibility, if no one connected with Obama had even mentioned it. The broad question is whether there was any undue influence from the President-elect, and the broad answer—even in publications hostile to Obama—remains, that there was not. (Never mind that George W. Bush would have had his Karl Rove all over the same situation, if he had been in the same situation, and political pundits would have been fawning over his ‘muscular’ response and tight reins, etc. This is the kind of point not mentioned in the openly Republican Chicago Tribune.)
Regarding Tony Rezko, the underlying tale of what prosecutors might be doing gets darker. Rezko, whose career apparently centered on Chicago politics, is repeatedly referred to in the NDIL filings as “a supporter of Presidential Candidate Obama.” Prosecutors say that Valerie Jarrett told them Rezko suggested to Jarrett that she should talk to “the wife of Governor Blagojevich” about being named to the senate seat. (This is presumably to justify wiretapping Mrs. Blagojevich’s conversations, including conversations with her children.) Previously, according to the prosecutors, Blagojevich had “mentioned in a phone call on November 3, 2008” that Rezko had offered fundraising in exchange for Jarrett’s being put in as senator.
Up to now, there has been no indication that Rezko himself testified same. (Q: IS TONY REZKO STILL BEING HELD IN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT?)
According to the defense motion--and this is said publicly for the first time--prosecutors have been suggesting otherwise:
“In a recent in camera proceeding, the government tendered a three paragraph letter indicating that Rezko “has stated in interviews with the government that he engaged in election law violations by personally contributing a large sum of cash to the campaign of a public official who is not Rod Blagojevich [i.e. President Obama]. . . . Further, the public official denies being aware of cash contributions to his campaign by Rezko or others and denies having conversations with Rezko related to cash contributions. . . . Rezko has also stated in interviews with the government that he believed he transmitted a quid pro quo offer from a lobbyist to the pubic official, whereby the lobbyist would hold a fundraiser for the official in exchange for favorable official action, but that the public official rejected the offer. The public official denies any such conversation. In addition, Rezko has stated to the government that he and the public official had certain conversations about gaming legislation and administration, which the public official denies having had.”
If I were Blagojevich’s defense attorneys, I would ask prosecutors to provide tape-recordings of any statements the prosecution says were made by Rezko. Videotaped recordings would be better.
The defense motion does not say who wrote the “three paragraph letter” quoted.
As defense notes, Rezko himself wrote a letter to the judge in his case in spring 2008, saying that “the prosecutors have been overzealous in pursuing a crime that never happened. They are pressuring me to tell them the “wrong” things that I supposedly know about Governor Blagojevich and Senator Obama. I will never fabricate lies about anyone else for selfish purposes.” But now, defense counsel says, prosecutors have been telling them that “Mr. Rezko, President Obama’s former friend, fund-raiser, and neighbor told the FBI and the United States Attorneys a different story about President Obama.”
The first question, put bluntly, is whether Rezko actually told prosecutors a “different story.” It is difficult for a non-lawyer to quantify exactly how much prosecutors are legally allowed to shade the truth in pressuring defendants, or in interrogations. This is particularly difficult when the proceedings take place behind the scenes.
The second question is whether, if there is any fudging here, it was designed more to pressure Rezko, or more to pressure Blagojevich.
Either way, beyond any doubt the pressures on Rezko to help out with justifying those stunt arrests and dawn raids must be immense. Somebody ought to care what happens to Rezko, not for his sake but for the sake of the courts. Somebody ought to wonder what is going on behind the scenes with Tony Rezko.
If, on the other hand, Rezko did say anything along these lines to prosecutors, then the third question is whether the statements are true.
Predictably, the rightwing blogosphere has already homed in on this last one. Even when they do not break new ground, any mentions of Obama in the context of Chicago politics are pounced on by the inveterate Obama-haters.
Once again we come back to that splashy Dec. 9, 2008, press conference. At that time, it looked as though Fitzgerald, trained under Rudy Giuliani, had taken a leaf from George W. Bush’s playbook: The people around Fitzgerald, including FBI, seemed to be working for him individually, rather than for the American public. You don’t get a bunch of hype, let along a string of untruths in a nationally televised press conference, followed by a series of shifting justifications, in the pure and disinterested service of justice. You do get those things in a political action.
More importantly, if a crime was actually in progress—that is, if a governor was actually going to ‘auction’ a senate seat—then the string of dawn arrests and dawn raids prevented investigation of and prosecution for same. Our rightwing blogosphere has its explanation for this, too: Fitzgerald prevented Blagojevich from selling the senate seat to protect Obama, or did so under Obama’s orders to protect Jesse Jackson, Jr., or some other (black) politician.
Setting aside the delirium, what the wingers did pick up on accurately is that the splashy arrest short-circuited investigation. As Republican conspiracy theorists note, the arrest forestalled any action overtly worthy of an arrest.
As pointed out previously, the Blagojevich arrest was not that of a serial killer or a flight risk. It cannot be argued to have stemmed from threats of violence or from a health hazard. The common-sense hypothesis is that, had a white-collar crime actually been in motion, the feds would have let it proceed to a point where they could catch the perps red-handed. But there is little possibility that Blagojevich, wiretapped around the clock, could get away with anything big. Surely Fitzgerald, who turned over unlikely “dirty bomber” Jose Padilla with some alacrity, must have surmised accurately that Blagojevich was blowing smoke about the senate seat, and it was now or never. He had to take him out while the story of a “crime spree” was colorable. That meant taking him out before public discussions got under way, before Sen. Durbin, the Democratic leadership in Congress, or the Obama team had a chance to weigh in—any of which would have made a “conspiracy” charge unsustainable, let alone a RICO.
That also meant grabbing the 24-hour news cycle before that Bush White House memo, the one asking for resignation letters from all political appointees, hit the news.
In the process, he succeeded in partly spoiling the joy of a major milestone in American history and the first democratic presidential election we have had since 1976. (Be it noted that he has been backed up by some unsavory anonymous comrades-in-arms in the local papers, many of whom seem fixated on anal rape.)
From Bertrand Russell:
“Envy consists in seeing things never in themselves, but only in their relations. If you desire glory, you may envy Napoleon, but Napoleon envied Caesar, Caesar envied Alexander, and Alexander, I daresay, envied Hercules, who never existed.”
The president, to his credit, is taking the Caesar’s-wife approach to federal prosecutors: in the highest-profile political prosecutions, he has retained both the federal prosecutor in North Carolina, whose office is investigating former presidential candidate John Edwards; and the federal prosecutor in Chicago, who for more than three years has been campaigning behind the scenes against Tony Rezko Rod Blagojevich Obama himself.
But you won’t see the right wing giving Obama credit for it. Instead, the usual foamers at the mouth accuse him of doing exactly the opposite of what he has done, which is to give holdover Republican prosecutors the same structural support he gave the GOP in health reform and the stimulus and gave Wall Street in finance.
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