Rod Blagojevich, ousted Governor of Illinois, has a face (and hair) that cartoonists usually can only dream about. But there is some mighty serious stuff in the wings. It has even been suggested that Rod Blagojevich could possibly bring down the President of the United States!*
Blagojevich is not going quietly into that good night. In fact he seems to relish media attention. You may have caught him on Donald’s Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice before he got fired.
The latest exposure opportunity fell right into his lap. Blagojevich and his lawyers filed a motion to have President Obama give testimony in his upcoming trial in which he will defend himself against federal corruption charges, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, attempting to auction off the U.S. Senate seat previously held by President Obama, and fundraising abuses as well as other pay to play schemes.
In the meantime, someone who knows squat about PDF files made a blunder the size of Pluto. (Or was it? You decide.)
We—as in you and me—were only supposed to see some parts of this subpoena. A lot of it was blackened out by court order, which contained all of the good stuff. BUT, if you have the right version of Adobe Acrobat, all you have to do is “copy file to clip board” and paste that into a document. Voila! Not only do the black-outs disappear, but the redacted text conveniently appears in bold so you can’t possibly miss it! (See if you can do it.)
What does the redacted text tell us about what Blagojevich and his attorneys think they know about Obama? If they are right, the President has some ‘splaining to do!
For those of you who can’t manipulate the PDF file, here is what we were not supposed to see, as nicely summarized by The Ward Room and NBC.
1. Obama may have lied about conversations with convicted fraudster Tony RezkoBlagojevich’s lawyers allege that Rezko admitted breaking the law by contributing “a large sum of cash” to a public official. Blagojevich’s attorneys say that public official is Obama. Obama said that Rezko never relayed a request from a lobbyist to hold a fundraiser in favor of favorable legislative action. But the point may be moot: regardless of Obama talking/not talking to Rezko, Blagojevich’s attorneys say that Obama refused the request regardless.
Redacted portion: However, the defense has a good faith belief 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. 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. 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 public 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.
Redacted footnote: The defense has a good faith belief that this public official is Barack Obama.
2. Obama may have overtly recommended Valerie Jarret for his Senate seat
Blagojevich’s defense team basically alleges that Obama told a certain labor union official that he (Obama) would support Valerie Jarrett’s candidacy for the Senate seat. Jarrett, referred to as “Senate Candidate B”, is now a senior advisor to the president.
Redacted portion: Yet, despite President Obama stating that no representatives of his had any part of any deals, labor union president told the FBI and the United States Attorneys that he spoke to labor union official on November 3, 2008 who received a phone message from Obama that evening. After labor union official listened to the message labor union official told labor union president “I’m the one”. Labor union president took that to mean that labor union official was to be the one to deliver the message on behalf of Obama that Senate Candidate B was his pick. (Labor union president 302, February 2, 2009, p. 7).
Labor union official told the FBI and the United States Attorneys “Obama expressed his belief that [Senate Candidate B] would be a good Senator for the people of Illinois and would be a candidate who could win re-election. [Labor union official] advised Obama that [labor union official] would reach out to Governor Blagojevich and advocate for [Senate Candidate B] … [Labor union official] called [labor union president] and told [labor union president] that Obama was aware that [labor union official] would be reaching out to Blagojevich.” (Labor union official 302, February 3, 2009 p. 3).
3. A supporter of President Obama may have offered quid pro quo on a Jarrett senate appointment
Redacted portion: Supporter of Presidential Candidate Obama is mentioned in a phone call on November 3, 2008, having offered “fundraising” in exchange for Senate Candidate B for senator (Blagojevich Home Phone Call # 149).
4. Obama maintained a list of good Senate candidates
Redacted portion: President-elect Obama also suggested Senate Candidate A to Governor Blagojevich. John Harris told the FBI and the United States Attorneys that he spoke to President’s Chief of Staff on November 12, 2008. Harris took notes of the conversation and wrote that President’s Chief had previously worked as Blagojevich’s press secretary. Obama agreed of Staff told Harris that Senate Candidate A was acceptable to Obama as a senate pick. (Harris handwritten notes, OOG1004463) President’s Chief of Staff told the FBI that “he could not say where but somewhere it was communicated to him that” Senate Candidate A was a suggested candidate viewed as one of the four “right” candidates “by the Obama transition team.”
5. Rahm Emanuel allegedly floated Cheryl Jackson’s name for the Senate seat
Redacted portion: President’s Chief of Staff told the FBI that he had a conversation discussing the Senate seat with Obama on December 7, 2008 in Obama’s car. President’s Chief of Staff told the FBI “Obama expressed concern about Senate Candidate D being appointed as Senator.
[President’s Chief of Staff] suggested they might need an expanded list to possibly include names of African Americans that came out of the business world. [President’s Chief of Staff] thought he suggested Senate Candidate E who was the head of the Urban League and with President’s Chief of Staff’s suggestion.
6. Obama had a secret phone call with Blagojevich
Redacted portion: President-elect Obama also spoke to Governor Blagojevich on December 1, 2008 in Philadelphia. On Harris Cell Phone Call # 139, John Harris and Governor’s legal counsel discuss a conversation Blagojevich had with President-elect Obama. The government claims a conspiracy existed from October 22, 2008 continuing through December 9, 2008.6 That conversation is relevant to the defense of the government’s theory of an ongoing conspiracy. Only Rod Blagojevich and President Obama can testify to the contents of that conversation. The defense is allowed to present evidence that corroborates the defendant’s testimony.
So, could Blago turn out to be Obama’s Monica Lewinsky? Doubtful, as Obama can claim some form of executive privilege. But that would also raise eyebrows, sort of like taking the 5th. Stay tuned.
*See Firedog Lake for a scenario (last paragraph) whereby the Republicans could use these revelations, if true, to impeach Obama.