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Stick a fork in ‘em, they’re done

Thursday, Jul 8, 2010

* Unless he has strong evidence to the contrary, Congressman Jackson is now officially washed up politically outside his district

A supporter of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. told the Democratic congressman in 2008 that he would raise $1 million in return for then- Gov. Rod Blagojevich naming Jackson to the U.S. Senate, a federal prosecutor said Wednesday.

The allegation, made on a busy day at Blagojevich’s federal corruption trial, was the first time authorities publicly suggested Jackson was aware of efforts by his allies to swap campaign cash for his appointment to the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

The Sun-Times has more on the meeting of Jackson and Raghuveer Nayak, who reportedly offered Rod Blagojevich a million dollars if he appointed Jackson to the US Senate. Also present at the meeting was Blagojevich employee Rajinder Bedi, who was allegedly acting as a go-between…

The conversation turned to Jackson’s interest in the U.S. Senate seat, which in a matter of days would be up for grabs once Barack Obama became president.

“The thing that’s significant, Nayak says: ‘I will raise $1 million for Blagojevich if he appoints you [Jackson] to the Senate seat,’” Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Niewoehner told U.S. District Judge James Zagel with the jury out of the room. Niewoehner said Bedi heard Nayak tell Jackson this. He did not offer any more details.

Hours later, Bedi met with Rod Blagojevich’s fund-raising chairman, Robert Blagojevich.

“That statement … leads Bedi to mention [to Robert Blagojevich] that Nayak is interested in doing fund-raising for Blagojevich, and he wants Jackson appointed,” Niewoehner said.

Fortunately for Blagojevich, the jury wasn’t allowed to hear that testimony. But this next part is very unfortunate for Blagojevich

Three days later, Gov. Blagojevich was recorded talking about overtures for Jackson in a conversation with one of his deputy governors, Robert Greenlee. […]

“Unbelievable isn’t it,” responded Blagojevich. “Then I, we were approached, pay to play. That, you know he’d raise me 500 grand, an emissary came, then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him a senator.”

In a Dec. 4 telephone call with one of his advisers, Fred Yang, Blagojevich said he was now keeping an open mind on “clearly somethin’ I would never have considered and that’s Jesse Jr.”

Here’s why this is so bad for Blagojevich. Just yesterday, you will recall, Blagojevich’s attorneys told the judge that their defense would be that Blagojevich “did not honestly, and in good faith, believe his acts and conduct, nor his intent, were illegal.” They then suggested that he acted on the advice of others, including his legal counsel. Those recorded statements and others (we’ll get to one of those in a few seconds) totally undermine the defense.

* If you’d like to hear some real drama, click here and listen to Blagojevich being informed by his press secretary that the Tribune is about to run a story that the FBI had him under electronic surveillance. The full transcript is here. It’ll give you the chills.

The very next morning at 7:45, Blagojevich tells his brother not to go ahead with his talks about that Jackson money.

Blagojevich clearly knew that what he did was wrong because he ordered it undone. His defense is gonna be worthless. Also, he’s a former prosecutor, for crying out loud. It’ll be hugely tough to claim ignorance of the law.

* Trial roundup…

* Blago Often Away From Office, Aide Says: A former aide says Rod Blagojevich on average spent about two to eight hours a week in his office when he was governor of Illinois. Former Deputy Governor Robert Greenlee testified Thursday at Blagojevich’s corruption trial that generally during working hours the former governor was either at home or attending high-profile events.

* Conrad Black requests bail in 2007 fraud case

* News-Gazette: ‘Honest services’ decision a victory for slippery pols

* Blagojevich trial: Day 21 and recap

* Sneed: So he says . . . The Blago beat . . .

* Blagojevich Was Acting on Advice From Counsel: Defense

* Recording: Blagojevich Learns He’s Being Taped

* ‘Recordings of me?’

* Blago’s Brother: ‘Get Something’ For Senate Seat

* Cash back

* A hazy distinction

* Prosecution: Suburban fundraiser was for Jackson appointment

* Witness: I told Robert Blagojevich about Jesse Jackson Jr. and campaign money

* Did Jackson Offer Blago a Million Dollars?

* Jesse Jackson Jr. knew of $1 million offer for Senate seat, prosecutors say

* Feds: Jackson Jr. at meeting on Senate seat/fund-raising trade

* Prosecutor: Jesse Jackson Jr. at meeting where $1 million and Senate seat discussed

* A meeting with Jesse Jackson Jr.

* Jury hears toned-down version of Jackson meeting

* Jackson donor and former state employee: I lied on taxes, engaged in check-cashing scheme

* Blagojevich on Jesse Jackson Jr: “He’s a f—— articulate incompetent.”

* Blagojevich brother says of Jackson appointment: It’ll never happen

* Defense says Blagojevich ‘killed’ Jackson appointment

* Blagojevich on tape: “F— you, Harry Reid.”

* Daley pal Sean Conlon spars entertainingly with Blagojevich lawyer

* Jesse Jackson Jr. supporter and former state employee Rajinder Bedi to testify

* Questions about contract changes

* Gerry Krozel: I lied to the FBI to get them out of my house

* Road builder: I lied to FBI about pressure from Blago

* Defense: Gerry Krozel testimony doesn’t match statements to investigators

* Robert Blagojevich’s attorney: Robert didn’t talk to road builder about fund-raising

* A question too far?

* Daley friend testifies about Patti Blagojevich brokerage fee

* Property prices were hiked so Patti would get cut, witness says

* Rod Blagojevich to road building exec: Soon I won’t be able to “bully you guys”

* Blagojevich Makes LeBron Pitch

* Wednesday’s phone transcripts in text format

- Posted by Rich Miller        


31 Comments
  1. - John Galt - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:50 am:

    Doesn’t look good for JJJ. Two questions come to mind though:

    1) Why didn’t the feds charge him too?

    2) I know the GOP has a reasonably sharp guy running against him for his congressional seat. Granted, the district is drawn so it’s absurdly in the Democratic column, but is there any way this could be a Joseph Cao/William Jefferson situation and JJJ could actually lose his seat?


  2. - Leave a Light on George - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:58 am:

    The last few days of testimony have been very interesting. My question is what does it do for Patty B and JJJ as defense witnesses? One has vowed to testify. The other I believe has been subpoenaed. Both are in very tricky situations.


  3. - Niles Township - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:58 am:

    1) Why didn’t the feds charge him too?

    Because it is not illegal unless they can prove that he knew about it. They must not have that recording, otherwise he would have been charged.


  4. - ashamed 2b a democrat - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:59 am:

    JJJ should be charged just like Rod b/c he’e a co-conspirator. If Jr’s been given immunity, doesn’t the public deserve to know that?


  5. - Leave a Light on George - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:01 am:

    @Niles

    If the Trib hadn’t broke the story when they did you can bet JJJ would be a defendant too.


  6. - tubbfan - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:01 am:

    I’m truly amazed at the lack of a sufficient defense in this case. Blago was an attorney who now claims that he was following the advice of the “experts” around him? Surely, there’s more to the defense than that? And another thing, why wasn’t Patti charged? Has the “G” determined that they’ll await the outcome of this trial before deciding what to do with her?


  7. - Montrose - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:01 am:

    *Because it is not illegal unless they can prove that he knew about it. They must not have that recording, otherwise he would have been charged.*

    That sounds right. They probably don’t have enough evidence to make a solid case in court.


  8. - Secret Square - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:04 am:

    “If you’d like to hear some real drama…”

    I’m sure most of us remember when the story in question was published, and the informal “Fitzmas carol” contest it touched off on this very blog.

    ‘Twas four nights before Fitzmas, and all through the (Blago) house, EVERY creature was stirring…


  9. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:13 am:

    In the case of JJJ, hard not to think of the myth of Icarus, the son of the master craftsman Daedalus. Icarus attempted to escape from Crete by means of wings constructed by his father. He ignored instructions not to fly too close to the sun (the wings were held together by wax), and fell to his death. JJJ has been steered towards the US Senate (and beyond??) by his dad since birth. JJJ wanted it so badly, he flew too close to the sun and now . . . .


  10. - shore - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:19 am:

    the suntimes blogger post transcripts, is there a place where they post the daily audio of the the big things, because listening is definitly a different experience than reading it. I half expected him during those long pauses to say “are we being recorded right now?”.

    I don’t subscribe to your newsletter, so perhaps I missed something on if the audio is made public or just leaked to some journalists.


  11. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:19 am:

    J3 is toast. A good example of greed over-running good sense. He had enjoyed some respect for being a decent legislator and had created a name for himself seperate from his father.

    As for RB……all over but the weight challenged female yodeling.


  12. - George - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:21 am:

    shore - all of the PDF file transcripts have the audio files embedded in them. Just look at the bottom when you have the file open and you will see it.


  13. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:22 am:

    Anonymous,

    I suppose you thought that we who post here would not know the details of the myth of Icarus that you would make sure we knew that the wings were held together with wax. Sheeesh.


  14. - George - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:22 am:

    And here is the link to the “official” site of where all the trial exhibits are:

    http://www.justice.gov/usao/iln/hot/us_v_blagojevich.html


  15. - shore - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:25 am:

    my bad,

    the recordings are here.

    http://media.apps.chicagotribune.com/blago/documents.html


  16. - DuPage Dave - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:48 am:

    I don’t think too many tears will be shed for Jackson Junior. He and his wife will stay on the public payroll for as long as they like. Sooner or later everyone will have forgotten that he once had a brighter future and misplayed his hand.


  17. - train111 - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 12:12 pm:

    I heard the tape with Blago’s press secretary informing him that the Tribune would break the next day about his phone calls being tapped and Wyma working for the feds. For a guy who blabs as much as Blago, there was silence. It took him considerable time to get his thoughts together and respond. It was a priceless ‘hands caught in the cookie jar’ moment. I wish we had video to see his facial expression when it happenned.

    train111


  18. - Berkeley Bear - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 12:13 pm:

    Patty wasn’t indicted initially in part to have something to pressure Blago with - but the Feds underestimated the crazy. Plus, there’s the sympathy issue since she’s a mom with small kids, and they’d have to use Rezko to make any case against her directly - both of which could have led to a jury feeling bad for all the defendants and letting Blago off. Now, I suspect the issue turns on how/if she testifies about her work - if she tries to lie in keeping with the questioning of the defense to date, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rezko as a rebuttal witness and a follow-on perjury indictment.

    With JJJ, Nayak and Bedi must not have copped to discussing the plan with the man or he’d be looking at his own charges. Just like if Balanoff had gone to Valerie Jarett and laid out what he’d offer Blago in return for her appointment and she ok’d it (assuming it included something of personal benefit to Blago rather than just general political support).


  19. - CircularFiringSquad - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 12:27 pm:

    The Trib “broke” story after being told they were THE story as in being in the middle of the tapes with the Wrigley scandal. Never forget there is no record that the Trib raced to the USA’s office to report the Blagoof/Harris plan to trade Wrigley cash for the edit board sacking.

    Revealing the govt investigation only serves them


  20. - Publius - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 12:30 pm:

    Over lunch today I decided to go back to the Archives to see the day that Blago got arrested. It was funny to see us and everyone else try to guess who “Senate Candidate 5″ is and now we know it is JJJ.


  21. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 12:53 pm:

    Don’t worry about Trips — remember, a few days after Blago’s arrest, he claimed he’d been working undercover for the federales for years on the Blago case.

    I’m sure his secret agent case officer, Mark Kirk, will back him on that.


  22. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 2:39 pm:

    A few things about Jesse Jackson Jr. that comes to my mind.

    1.) His overly aggressive PR campaign for this appointed seat

    2.)His newspaper endorsement stunts trying to get an appointed seat.

    3.) Lynn Sweet’s Blagojevich quote on Jackson from December 3, 2008 - “Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) is waging an overt drive. I asked Blagojevich what he thought of Jackson’s public campaign.

    Blagojevich offered a response I took as lukewarm, but I may be reading too much into his measured comments.

    “He’s got a right to do it,” Blagojevich said, “and he obviously believes in himself as a candidate for the United States Senate and his public campaign is, you know, something he obviously believes appropriate and helpful, and all power to him.”

    And finally,
    4.) How Giannoulais admitted asking for Obama’s seat, but today, seems to claim it was some kind of a joke.

    So Jesse Jackson Jr. seemed to want this Senate seat in the worse way. He begged, boasted, bought, and pulled out all the stops including a faux statewide bus tour as a cover up, to get it in the worse way.


  23. - Berkeley Bear - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 3:27 pm:

    CFS, Harris never relayed the demand/deal to the Tribune. He just shined Blago on about it, according to his testimony. So I don’t see how you can link the non-delivered threat with this story.


  24. - anon III - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 3:31 pm:

    With our impeached former Governor standing in the dock, and his predecessor a long-term guest of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the question has occurred to me: “how did we ever elect these Bozos?”

    The best answer I have come across is the listing of Career Patrons on the Illinois Campaign for Politica Reform website http://www.ilcampaign.org/career-patrons

    Are all these “patrons” witless accomplices, or do they just lack any ethics? Please help me on this one.


  25. - MrJM - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 3:42 pm:

    J3 - Kung Fu Hustler?
    http://bit.ly/KungFuHustler

    – MrJM


  26. - quandry - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 4:45 pm:

    @wordslinger. I have read hat JJJ may have been working with them after his wife was refused the lottery position, supposedly for lack of a nice contribution. If this were so, then did we have an elaborate sting operation? Bedi testified that Jackson was at the meeting when the money was discussed. I suppose it wouldn’t be seen as entrapment because there is ground work that Blago had the propensity. Is this why JJJ has not been charged? And what about Marilyn Katz (tape#149)? She allegedly also offered fundraising help (on behalf of Jarrett, allegedly) — the only difference is there was no $$ amount given.


  27. - Loop Lady - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 5:04 pm:

    if Jesse Jr. goes down because of this, I’m sure his wife will carry on the family name and traditions…


  28. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 8:16 pm:

    Quandry, if you believe Trips was ever REALLY working with the feds, I would like, for the second time this week, sell my father’s antique watch.


  29. - Bookworm - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 8:29 pm:

    I don’t know how much clearer it can get that Blago’s “sale” of the Senate seat was genuine and not just talk. One day he insists that Jesse Jr. is bleeping incompetent and didn’t even deserve to be a Congressman, let alone a Senator. But as soon as he finds out that Triple J might offer something “tangible,” he changes his mind. He was willing to appoint someone he clearly believed to be unqualified and incompetent for the job purely to benefit himself. If that isn’t genuine denial of honest services, I don’t know what is.


  30. - quandry - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 9:30 pm:

    But he didn’t bite when it first was offered, and it was brought up very early, end of October, iirc. It appears that only after he’d been refused something more tangible than fundraising help by Obama’s camp (Katz, tape 149), did he start to consider it, and then you have the tape that he was considering JJJ to stick it to DC. Could there be reasonable doubt raised by the competing tapes?


  31. - alas... - Friday, Jul 9, 10 @ 12:55 am:

    One wonders why Deputy Governor A - who went to top tier schools and so, in theory, shouldn’t be completely stupid - was such a tool. He sure did come off like he was way up in the big time back then. Alas, he was just being a yes-man, go-fer and salesman for the likes of Rod. Lucky he had prosecution-useful stuff to spill. He must be so proud.


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