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Separating the real from the meaningless

Saturday, Dec 13, 2008 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The broken national media is still broken and still goofy.

Case in point. This is no big deal

Another source said that contact between the Obama camp and the governor’s administration regarding the Senate seat began the Saturday before the Nov. 4 election, when Emanuel made a call to the cell phone of Harris. The conversation took place around the same time press reports surfaced about Emanuel being approached about taking the high-level White House post should Obama win.

Emanuel delivered a list of candidates who would be “acceptable” to Obama, the source said. On the list were Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, Illinois Veterans Affairs director Tammy Duckworth, state Comptroller Dan Hynes and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Chicago, the source said. All are Democrats.

Sometime after the election, Emanuel called Harris back to add the name of Democratic Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan to the approved list, the source said.

This is what is called information, not news. The national media seems to be all atwitter that Emaneul is on the federal surveillance tapes. But literally anyone who called the governor’s campaign office during that time period could be on the tapes, so that proves absoultely nothing and it’s just typical DC media goofiness to keep bringing up that subject.

* Buried way down at the bottom of this story from The Hill

Many believe Emanuel makes his own appearance in the criminal complaint, showing up as an unnamed adviser to Obama. Blagojevich curses the unnamed adviser in conversations with aides because, he says, the adviser seems unwilling to meet the governor’s demands.

Unless Rahm was wheeling and dealing with Governor Blagojevich on that Senate seat, promising favors like jobs and campaign cash, then this has absolutely zero real impact on Emanuel or Obama, especially since the feds are saying he’s not a target. .

* But this is problematic

If confirmed as attorney general, Eric Holder may have to consider removing himself from overseeing the Chicago corruption probe that ensnared Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, legal experts say.

Holder was a co-chairman of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, joining in 2007 when the long-running investigation focused on a businessman who had been among the biggest fundraisers for Obama and Blagojevich.

The legal ethics issue that Holder may have to deal with, called recusal, could arise if Holder had conversations about the Chicago investigation with Obama or his staff.

That is gonna haunt him but good.

…Adding… TIME Magazine has a piece called: “Could Blago Cause Trouble for Daley?” which includes this point…

Harris, who served as a deputy police superintendent and city budget director, helped run the Hired Truck program under Daley.

That program wasn’t “run” out of the budget office, but Harris did know a whole lot about what was happening on the 5th Floor.

Way down at the very bottom was this…

Others doubt that Harris presents any threat to his former boss. “Daley has always been smart enough to insulate himself enough,” said one longtime city official. “It’s not money, really, that pushes Daley. Ego and votes do. The feds keep throwing darts at the board and nothing has stuck. They’ve never been able to catch him in a lie. Now Harris may be able to do that, or he may not. All we know is Harris fell in with a den of thieves, and he got hooked up.”

That probably should’ve been at the top. The question is whether Harris was a “buffer” or whether there were buffers between Harris and Daley. If it’s the former, Daley has reason to be worried. If it’s the latter, then this will go away like everything else in Daley World. [h/t to a commenter]

* And while this column is from a totally biased source, it makes some very good points…

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s “conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave,” according to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. But Mr. Fitzgerald’s statement would, at the very least, make well-regarded former Attorney General Robert Jackson flinch in his. Almost seven decades ago, Jackson admonished a meeting of U.S. attorneys that they should be dedicated “to the spirit of fair play and decency . . . . A sensitiveness to fair play and sportsmanship is perhaps the best protection against the abuse of power . . . .”

In the Dec. 9 press conference regarding the federal corruption charges against Gov. Blagojevich and his chief of staff, Mr. Fitzgerald violated the ethical requirement of the Justice Department guidelines that prior to trial a “prosecutor shall refrain from making extrajudicial comments that pose a serious and imminent threat of heightening public condemnation of the accused.” The prosecutor is permitted to “inform the public of the nature and extent” of the charges. In the vernacular of all of us who practice criminal law, that means the prosecutor may not go “beyond the four corners” — the specific facts — in the complaint or indictment. He may also provide any other public-record information, the status of the case, the names of investigators, and request assistance. But he is not permitted to make the kind of inflammatory statements Mr. Fitzgerald made during his media appearance. […]

Additionally, Mr. Fitzgerald violated another ethical mandate under Justice guidelines for prosecutors: He is supposed to “exercise reasonable care to prevent” law enforcement — in this case the FBI Agent — from making the same type of extrajudicial statements. Mr. Fitzgerald exercised no care.

Special Agent Rob Grant volunteered that when he arrived in Illinois four years ago, he was asked by the media whether Illinois is the “most corrupt state in the United States.” He then answered that four-year-old question claiming, “[I]t’s one hell of a competitor.” Mr. Grant did not stop there. He revealed that the FBI agents who participated in the case were “thoroughly disgusted and revolted by what they heard.”

Fitz should’ve left the breathless bloviating to the DC media.

* Related…

* The Lasting Effects of Political Poison

* Blagojevich and not-so-honest Abe


  1. - Chief Illiniwek - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 2:54 pm:

    Time Magazine thinks Blago’s bad news for Daley. Surprise!,8599,1866220,00.html

  2. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 3:02 pm:

    I think Fitzgerald was a little ticked off after Blago’s boasting the day before about taping him and knowing this goof was about to pick a Senator. I have watched many of these press anouncments by the US Attorney and they always do their little editorials. People can say all they want about Fitz and Co’s conduct. I think they are winning the hearts and minds war.

  3. - Cowgirl - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 3:05 pm:

    Fitzgerald may have violated the canons of ethics when he began his grandstanding about this case. I agree with every word in that “biased” column that you posted. Vigorous prosecution does not allow for inflammatory grandstanding.

  4. - Rich Miller - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 3:14 pm:

    ===that “biased” column that you posted===

    I didn’t say the column was biased, just the columnist. Big dif.

  5. - IrishPirate - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 3:18 pm:

    Jan Schakowsky was on the “approved” Obama list?

    Given her hubby’s criminal troubles she needs to be kept far away from the Senate.

    Interesting that Madigan and Jackson weren’t on the list. No love for daddy Madigan I imagine and recognize that JJJ might not be able to hold the seat.

  6. - Bill Baar - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 3:45 pm:

    Let’s not forget Holder had a 300k contract with the State to decide if a company could build a casino in Rosemont. Knowing the Gov expects more than appreciation on deals, folks out to be asking Holder a bit more about this deal.

  7. - Bill Baar - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 3:49 pm:

    The more I think about Emanuel, he looks more and more a bumbler than guilty of much.

    He couldn’t get Obama’s Senate pic out of the Guv.

    He dragged the Guv into the muck talking to a Guv knowing he was under investigation.

    And all around losing move.

    Knowing how these guys talk, the tapes can be nothing but utter embarrasment… worse the a crime.. really dumb and crude I bet.

  8. - Stu - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 3:59 pm:

    Blago on ice?

  9. - Ahem - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 3:59 pm:

    Oh, look, a rat!

  10. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 4:17 pm:

    Ahem, now there’s a shirt I would buy.

    I must say, the rest of the country has grasped what kind of a person our Blago is a lot quicker than we Illinoians did. I know they had Fitzgerald’s help, but there is complete venom out there. Maybe we really are to used to corruption.
    Saturday Night Live is sure to wreck tonight.

  11. - tinman - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 4:19 pm:

    Rich, amen on Fitz, his smart a#$ comments are not called for.

  12. - wordslinger - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 4:21 pm:

    The WSJ column was excellent. I wasn’t aware that the Justice Department had such guidelines. It’s not just Fitz; every USATT that I can remember has felt the need to include those hackneyed groaners. Like Sgt. Friday said, just the facts, Fitz.

    I doubt if Harris was a buffer. I don’t think he had the history with Daley to qualify.

    I have to disagree with you on Emanuel and the news value, Rich. A prominent public official getting caught on fed wiretaps in a criminal investigation, no matter how innocent or innocuous the conversation, is news.

    As I posted elsewhere, I think the whole pre-election conversation between Harris and Emanuel is newsworthy for a number of reasons, none of them very complimentary to Emanuel. He’s a buffer who needs his own buffer.

    –”The family was big on buffers, Senator.” Willie Cicci, GFII.

  13. - Amy - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 4:23 pm:

    wow, i would have thought the column was written by a bunch of sore former City Hall 4th floor occupants, not Victoria Toensing. the whining about Fitzgerald and what ethics he violated is most amusing. and we hear it from the locals all the time.

    these people are more worked up about Fitzgerald than the actions of the corrupt.

  14. - wordslinger - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 4:26 pm:

    Adding, Holder should recuse himself and everybody in the Obama administration should stay as far away from the Illinois criminal investigations as possible.

    Let Fitz take the ball and run. There is no upside for Obama here.

    The crisis will come when Fitz decides he wants to leave and Obama has to appoint a replacement. When that time comes, he should publicly ask for, and then appoint, Fitz’s recommendation.

    Obama, get out of Illinois politics! Please!

  15. - Ahem - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 4:54 pm:

    Obama should appoint someone after weighing the recommendations of both Fitzgeralds, Patrick and Peter. Peter didn’t do too shabby appointing Patrick.

  16. - scoot - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 4:58 pm:

    Then why did Obama stand firm and say that no-one from my transition team has had any contact w/ the Guv? Did he mispeak…like Axelrod?

  17. - plutocrat03 - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 4:59 pm:

    So far this early test of the administration is not going well. By hiding Emanuel and Axlerod who have their own strong ties to the political web of Illinois the administration is furthering the rumor mill that there is something wrong.

    If they want this to go away they simply have to clearly state that there was no pay to play for either the Senate Seat (darn, there goes my Christmas present) OR Rahm’s Congressional seat. If either of these two fellows are one tape offering or being asked for favors, they will have to be cut loose ASAP.

    Where does the line of quid pro quo get drawn? Is asking to have someone pay your campaign debts before you join their administration crossing the line?

  18. - Rich Miller - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 5:09 pm:

    scoot, Obama said there was no deal-making. Handing over a list is not deal-making.

  19. - Greg - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 5:40 pm:

    “And while this column is from a totally biased source, it makes some very good points…”

    Who isn’t biased? Asserting that the source is biased is a biased statement.

    I don’t mean to offend you or anything but from my perspective (there even more bias!) it was a kind of a gratuitous slap. If you believe her argument has merit why the need to label her?

  20. - Rich Miller - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 6:02 pm:

    Greg, there’s a big difference between “biased” and “totally biased.”

  21. - IrishPirate - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 6:07 pm:

    I suggest one google the name of the author of the “biased” column. You will see why she has a bias. Can you say “high profile attorney”? I knew you could. By the way we are all biased in one way or another.

  22. - hisgirlfriday - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 6:27 pm:

    Rich, if that’s what your sources tell you then I am more inclined to believe this is nothing and Rahm is in the clear but just based on him not being a “target” of Fitz really means squat to me.

    I mean JJJ came out and said he was told he was not a target of the investigation and then it came out he was way more caught up in this than originally realized.

    This dragging of feet on the part of Obama’s team reminds me of the rolling disclosures in the Rezko house deal. Maybe no indictment of Rahm will come out of it and Obama won’t have to replace him as chief of staff, but by the way they’re acting I won’t be surprised at all if there is something very embarrassing to Rahm and thus Obama on the tapes even if there isn’t anything regarding a deal on the Senate seat.

  23. - no plan B - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 6:41 pm:

    Perhaps the Obama team’s problem is trying to spin why they didn’t go to the feds when they learned that RB was engaging in pay-to-play with other candidates

  24. - Cheswick - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 6:52 pm:

    The biased source’s husband and I shared the people mover at the Atlanta airport (I think) many years ago. I almost didn’t read the article when I saw the author’s name. But I did. Obviously, she wants to go after Fitzgerald in the courtroom.

    Op-ed in the Wall Street Journal = shilling for business? Maybe.

  25. - Bill Baar - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 7:36 pm:

    Gotta admit the FBI guy was a little out of line with the comments on Illinois as the most corrupt state.

    There was a lot of emotion at that press conference.

    That was unusual I think. I don’t think it was wise. Why it occurred is good question.

  26. - DuPage Dave - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 8:30 pm:

    The FBI guy was right on- Illinois is a top contender for the “most corrupt state” title. We may not always win the super bowl, but we are in the playoffs every year.

    The pension board corruption, the “endemic hiring fraud” problem, the real estate deals and now the selling of a Senate seat- and that’s just one Illinois elected official!!

  27. - Steve - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 9:52 pm:

    Eric Holder is going to have to answer for 300K and his connection to Blagojevich and the Rosemont Casino deal.Does Eric Holder look good defending a casino with ties to John “No Nose” DiFronzo?

  28. - steve schnorf - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 10:24 pm:

    Somehow, I suspect that the Obama-Emanuel haters are not new to the world of conspiracy theory

  29. - Emily Booth - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 10:29 pm:

    The Emperor Wears No Clothes. Is that what Victoria Toessing finds so “appalling” about Fitzgerald’s opinions? I find it refreshing, appropriate and honest and about 6 years overdue (altho that is not Fitzgerald’s fault). But, then, I don’t work or live in the Beltway.

  30. Pingback Politics: OBAMA LINKED TO BLAGO SENATE-SEAT-FOR-SALE SCANDAL!! | Peoria Pundit - Saturday, Dec 13, 08 @ 10:31 pm:

    […] And Rich MIller (hat tip) makes the following observation: Unless Rahm was wheeling and dealing with Governor Blagojevich on that Senate seat, promising favors like jobs and campaign cash, then this has absolutely zero real impact on Emanuel or Obama, especially since the feds are saying he’s not a target. […]

  31. - Peach - Sunday, Dec 14, 08 @ 9:45 am:

    Somehow, I suspect that the Obama-Emanuel haters are not new to the world of conspiracy theory

    No, they’ve been watching the Bush/Cheney haters in action for so long they learned a thing or 2.

  32. - Arthur Andersen - Sunday, Dec 14, 08 @ 10:17 pm:

    Rich-does bleep get one’s comment deleted?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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