The Plank

Blagojevich Busted (cont'd, Cont'd)

Apologies for the serial posts, but this thing just keeps getting juicier. Here's a portion beginning with an intercepted November 10 conference call Blago held with his advisors to discuss the vacant Senate seat.

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.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will put “[Senate Candidate 4]” in the Senate “before I just give fucking [Senate Candidate 1] a fucking Senate seat and I don’t get anything.” (Senate Candidate 4 is a Deputy Governor of the State of Illinois). ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he needs to find a way to take the “financial stress” off of his family and that his wife is as qualified or more qualified than another specifically named individual to sit on corporate boards. According to ROD BLAGOJEVICH, “the immediate challenge [is] how do we take some of the financial pressure off of our family.” Later in the phone call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that absent getting something back, ROD BLAGOJEVICH will not pick Senate Candidate 1. HARRIS re-stated ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s thoughts that they should ask the President-elect for something for ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s financial security as well as maintain his political viability. HARRIS said they could work out a three-way deal with SEIU and the Presidentelect where SEIU could help the President-elect with ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s appointment of Senate Candidate 1 to the vacant Senate seat, ROD BLAGOJEVICH would obtain a position as the National Director of the Change to Win campaign, and SEIU would get something favorable from the President-elect in the future.

[snip]

Later on November 10, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Advisor A discussed the open Senate seat. Among other things, ROD BLAGOJEVICH raised the issue of whether the President-elect could help get ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife on “paid corporate boards right now.” Advisor A responded that he “think[s] they could” and that a “Presidentelect . . . can do almost anything he sets his mind to.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will appoint “[Senate Candidate 1] . . . but if they feel like they can do this and not fucking give me anything . . . then I’ll fucking go [Senate Candidate 5].” (Senate Candidate 5 is publicly reported to be interested in the open Senate seat). ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that if his wife could get on some corporate boards and “picks up another 150 grand a year or whatever” it would help ROD BLAGOJEVICH get through the next several years as Governor.

[snip]

On November 11, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with JOHN HARRIS about the Senate seat. ROD BLAGOJEVICH suggested starting a 501(c)(4) organization (a non-profit organization that may engage in political activity and lobbying) and getting “his (believed to be the President-elect’s) friend Warren Buffett or some of those guys to help us on something like that.” HARRIS asked, “what, for you?” ROD BLAGOJEVICH replied, “yeah.” Later in the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that if he appoints Senate Candidate 4 to the Senate seat and, thereafter, it appears that ROD BLAGOJEVICH might get impeached, he could “count on [Senate Candidate 4], if things got hot, to give [the Senate seat] up and let me parachute over there.” HARRIS said, “you can count on [Senate Candidate 4] to do that.” Later in the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he knows that the President-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat but “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them.”

Who's Senate Candidate 1? Valerie Jarrett? Does all this explain the final bit of Jodi Kantor's Jarrett profile:

After the election, speculation that Ms. Jarrett might seek Mr.
Obama’s Senate seat coursed through Chicago. After a career of helping
formidable men, she could finally “be the sun,” as Marilyn Katz, a friend, put it. But the Obamas saw her place in Washington.

“I
told her,” Mrs. Obama said, “that I wanted her there, in that position,
that it would give me a sense of comfort to know that he had somebody
like her there by his side.”

After several long conversations
with Mr. Obama, Ms. Jarrett took herself out of the running for the
Senate seat. Or, rather, Mr. Obama did: she let him make the call.

“He
knows the Senate, he knows me, and he knows what he was looking for in
the White House,” she said. “I trusted him to make the decision.”

The incredible thing about all this is, what if Obama had played ball with Blagojevich? The feds would have had the president-elect dead to rights.

Update: I see in TalkBack that people are all pissed off at me, as if I was suggesting that Obama was implicated in Blagojovich's slime. I wasn't. As the Blogo quotes I excerpt up top show, Obama's clean in all this (i.e. Blogo: "I don’t get anything.") But it's not casting aspersions on Obama to marvel at just how big a bullet he dodged here. I mean, Blagojovich was clearly trying to entice Obama into some shady stuff while the FBI was listening into Blago's scheming. That's what's so remarkable about this situation. In other words, if Obama had gone for it (and, I know, I know, he didn't), the FBI would have known and Obama would have been nailed. I can't think of (m)any other instances where an FBI investigation has crept this close to a president-elect. Which makes this hypothetical very different than the one icarusr poses in TalkBack about Hillary Clinton killing Vince Foster with her bare hands. 

Later Update: Ben Smith has smart thoughts about all this:

[T]he key question is whether the
transition was talking to prosecutors, whether Obama and Valerie
Jarrett knew that Blagojevich had offered her the Senate seat in
exchange for a labor job, and how she, the transition, or SEIU handled
the solicitation of a bribe. (The existence of a transcript suggests
that the SEIU official -- Andy Stern, the president, had met with
Blagojevich just before the election on the subject, though nobody is
identified in the complaint -- was wearing a wire.)

One piece of speculation: Jarrett's abrupt withdrawal from
consideration for the Senate seat suggests Obama's circle aware of the
investigation.

It is clear from the complaint that Obama refused to offer Blagojevich anything for appointing Jarrett.

 --Jason Zengerle

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