Blagojevich: It "can't be in writing"

The criminal complaint against Rod Blagojevich, Democratic governor of Illinois,  is well worth skimming. You have to read this stuff for yourself to believe it.

90. Later on November 3, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with Advisor A. By this time, media reports indicated that Senate Candidate 1, an advisor to the President-elect, was interested in the Senate seat if it became vacant, and was likely to be supported by the President-elect.  During the call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated, "unless I get something real good for [Senate Candidate 1], shit, I'll just send myself, you know what I'm saying." ROD BLAGOJEVICH later stated, "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."  Later, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that the Senate seat "is a fucking valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."

91. On November 4, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with Deputy Governor A.  This was the same day as the United States Presidential election.  With respect to the Senate seat, Deputy Governor A suggested putting together a list of things that ROD BLAGOJEVICH would accept in exchange for the Senate seat.   ROD BLAGOJEVICH responded that the list "can't be in writing."  Thereafter,  ROD BLAGOJEVICH discussed whether he could obtain an ambassadorship in exchange for the Senate seat.

Jay Leno has a running joke on his show. "What do I love? Stupid criminals"--then he reads a news clipping about a robber who leaves his name and address at the scene of the crime or impales himself on a trash can while fleeing. That shrewd "can't be in writing" belongs in the anthology. That's right, boss. Be careful what you write down, for God's sake.

101. On November 10, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH, his wife, JOHN HARRIS, Governor General Counsel, and various Washington-D.C. based advisors, including Advisor B, discussed the open Senate seat during a conference call.  (The Washington D.C.-based advisors to ROD BLAGOJEVICH are believed to have participated on this call from Washington D.C.).  Various individuals participated at different times during the call.  The call lasted for approximately two hours, and what follows are simply summaries of various portions of the two-hour call.

a. ROD BLAGOJEVICH expressed his interest in figuring out a way to make money and build some financial security, while at the same time potentially participating in the political arena again.  ROD BLAGOJEVICH mentioned the Senate seat, the dynamics of a new Presidential administration with the strong contacts that ROD BLAGOJEVICH has in it, and asked what if anything he can do to make that work for him and his wife and his responsibilities as Governor of Illinois.  ROD BLAGOJEVICH suggested during the call that he could name himself to the open Senate seat to avoid impeachment by the State of Illinois legislature.   ROD BLAGOJEVICH agreed it was unlikely that the President-elect would name him Secretary of Health and Human Services or give him an ambassadorship because of all of the negative publicity surrounding ROD BLAGOJEVICH.


c. ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to "suck it up" for two years and do nothing and give this "motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator.  Fuck him.  For nothing?  Fuck him."

Too soon to say whether it will hurt Obama. For some reason Democratic corruption does not create a universal presumption of collective guilt in the way that Republican corruption does. (In many of the pieces on this you have to tunnel down quite far to read that Blagojevich is indeed a Democrat, as though that were a point of little significance.) The story so far does not reflect badly on the president-elect. Quite the opposite. Blagojevich wanted more than mere appreciation in return for the appointment of Obama's ally Valerie Jarrett to the Senate seat, and didn't get it. Still, there are some loose ends.

See Jake Tapper:

And, it should be pointed out, 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.

In the Democratic gubernatorial primary that year, then-state sen. Obama endorsed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris. But after Blagojevich won, Obama came around enthusiastically. At the same time, meanwhile, Axelrod had such serious concerns about whether Blagojevich was ready for governing he refused to work for his one-time client.

According to Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., Mr. Obama's incoming White House chief of staff, Emanuel, then-state senator Obama, a third Blagojevich aide, and Blagojevich's campaign co-chair, David Wilhelm, were the top strategists of Blagojevich's 2002 gubernatorial victory.

Emanuel told the New Yorker earlier this year that he and Obama "participated in a small group that met weekly when Rod was running for governor. We basically laid out the general election, Barack and I and these two."

Wilhelm said that Emanuel had overstated Obama's role. "There was an advisory council that was inclusive of Rahm and Barack but not limited to them," Wilhelm said, and he disputed the notion that Obama was "an architect or one of the principal strategists."

(An Obama Transition Team aide emails to note that Emanuel later changed his recollection of this story to Rich Miller's "CAPITOL FAX," saying, "David [Wilhelm] and I have worked together on campaigns for decades. Like always, he's right and I'm wrong.")

Obviously, Obama and Blagojevich moved in the same world--improbable as the contrast between the two men makes that seem. Perhaps now, better late than never, we will begin to read more about that world.

Obama has said he did not talk to the governor about his vacant Senate seat. David Axelrod had to withdraw an earlier statement which said otherwise. There was presumably communication at some level between the two sides, even if it was just the exchange of demand and curt refusal. (Otherwise, Blagojevich would have had no grounds for calling the president-elect a motherfucker.) But the person receiving that demand was under an obligation to do more than just refuse. Perhaps he or she did do more than that. In due course, maybe, we will find out.