Fox News reports on Blagojevich efforts to bribe Obama advisors – Focus on Emanuel

Lots of focus today on the two-hour conference call between Blago’s Illinois team and some unnamed advisors and consultants in Washington DC. Although I do not understand Obama’s legalistic denials of contact with Blago, it appears that he did not authorize any deals over the Senate seat. His first choice of for the White House, Rahm Emanuel may have been involved and has not addressed the claims that he might be one of the advisors in touch with Blago.
In the criminal complaint, Blagojevich becomes especially angry at one point when it becomes clear that Obama would not deal at this time. Here is the excerpt from pages 63-64:

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).

Obama supporters will see in this a commendable unwillingness to deal. Those who are suspicious of Obama may see something else. Blago is informed he must “‘suck it up’ for two years and do nothing.” Why is the sucking for only two years? Obviously angry, Blago anticipated something more from Obama. What in their relationship would give Blago any idea that he could make a quid pro quo with Obama?
Blago’s advisors do not the like the two year span. They say on pages 64-65,

One of ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s advisors said he likes the idea, it sounds like a good idea, but advised ROD BLAGOJEVICH to be leery of promises for something two years from now. ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife said they would take the job now. Thereafter, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and others on the phone call discussed various ways ROD BLAGOJEVICH can “monetize” the relationships he is making as Governor to make money after ROD BLAGOJEVICH is no longer Governor. 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 “President-elect. . . 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.

Blago’s advisors and someone on the call begin talking about how something positive could happen for Blago within the two year period. Blago says essentially if I get something monetary now then Valerie Jarrett (Candidate #1) will be appointed; if not then I will send up Jesse Jackson, Jr. (#5).
FoxNews looked at this earlier tonight with special attention to the timing of Valerie Jarrett’s interest then lack of interest.

PS – Mr. Emanuel, how hard is it to just say no?
Is this Emanuel?

On November 13, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with JOHN HARRIS. ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he wanted to be able to call “[President-elect Advisor]” and tell President-elect Advisor that “this has nothing to do with anything else we’re working on but the Governor wants to put together a 501(c)(4)” and “can you guys help him. . . raise 10, 15 million.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he wanted “[President-elect Advisor] to get the word today,” and that when “he asks me for the Fifth CD thing I want it to be in his head.” (The reference to the “Fifth CD thing” is believed to relate to a seat in the United States House of Representatives from Illinois’ Fifth Congressional District. Prior intercepted phone conversations indicate that ROD BLAGOJEVICH and others were determining whether ROD BLAGOJEVICH has the power to appoint an interim replacement until a special election for the seat can be held.).

UPDATE: 12/12/08 – Looks like Emanuel is indeed the focus. As this report points out, one would expect conversations and they are not illegal. The issue will be for the Obama administration what Emanuel said on those taped calls.

6 thoughts on “Fox News reports on Blagojevich efforts to bribe Obama advisors – Focus on Emanuel”

  1. @Rich: These are plausible accounts and may well be true. I am checking with the reporters who did the Trib story to see what they think the meaning is. The Emanuel issue is up in the air and we all need to see what shoes drop. If the Fox News Chicago source is correct, then Emanuel did have discussions with Blago.
    I am open to these possibilities but will not assume them without evidence.

  2. Warren —
    As Jayhuck has pointed out, the Chicago Tribune story does not say that Blagojevich spoke to Obama during the past year. It simply quotes Blagojevich as saying “We have had some discussions about a process which we’ll share … if all goes well.” Note that Blagojevich didn’t say “I” have had discussions, he said “We” have had discussions. This would seem to indicate that the discussions involved underlings, not Blagojevich or Obama.
    As for the victory celebration, there were over 100,000 people present and it was open to anyone who wanted to attend. If Blagojevich was there, there is no evidence that he spoke with Obama or that they even saw each other.
    I have read the criminal complaint, and I don’t see anything in there which establishes that Blagojevich or his advisors had any discussions with Rahm Emmanuel or anyone else in the Obama camp about Blagojevich’s demands. Advisor A and Advisor B clearly are Blagojevich advisors, not Obama advisors. The complaint makes six references to “President-elect advisor,” but in each instance it is in the context of Blagojevich wanting to get a message to that person (p. 72-73). I see nothing in the complaint which establishes that Blagojevich’s advisors ever spoke to “President-elect advisor.”
    As for the “suck it up for two years” comment, it most likely refers to the fact that Blagojevich has two years remaining in his term as governor. His advisors were telling him that he wasn’t going to get anything from Obama. Then they suggested that they could get something from SEIU (“something” being the position of National Director of the Change to Win campaign), and then SEIU could take credit for getting Blagojevich to appoint Obama’s choice for the Senate seat. But even if SEIU could do that, Blagovjevich would not be able to take the job for two years — hence, the comments about sucking it up and “promises for something two years from now.” Those were hypothetical promises, and there is no evidence that they were even discussed outside of Blagojevich’s circle.
    Finally, Obama’s “legalistic denials” are carefully worded because he is still verifying who on his team may have had contact with Blogojevich’s people and what was said. It’s obvious that there must have been some contact on some level, because Obama wanted to make his preferences known to Blogojevich. Obama knows that he had no contact with Blogojevich, and I am certain that he knows of any contact that his closest advisors may have had, but he needs to identify everyone on his team who may have had contact and what they said.

  3. BTW Warren – That Chicago Tribune article you use as proof that they have talked in the last year doesn’t say any such thing. It gives no date for their last discussion and doesn’t even talk specifically about the last time they talked. I’m assuming you are trying to infer something from the article?

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