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It’s not as simplistic as that

Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009

* I’ve seen comments here and bloviating elsewhere that what Rod Blagojevich is doing with his national media blitz is an ingenious plan to help himself with his criminal trial by influencing the jury pool. I’m not buying it. The explanation is too simplistic. Besides, George Ryan commuted how many death sentences and his jury did what? Exactly.

Natasha Korecki at the Sun-Times sets those people straight today with an excellent story…

“Given that he doesn’t know all the evidence against him, there’s tremendous risk in what he’s doing,” said Levin, who prosecuted ex-Gov. George Ryan. “Some of the statements . . . might fit nicely into the theories [prosecutors] are laying out.”

Prosecutors are likely recording every word out of the governor’s mouth, Levin said.

“No defense attorney in his right mind would sanction this campaign,” defense lawyer Ron Safer said. “It’s a horrible, horrible idea.”

Safer said Blagojevich’s words on television will come across differently in the sterile environment of federal court — especially when jurors will also hear secret profanity-laced FBI recordings of the governor.

“No matter how innocent you think the statements are. No matter how good it feels,” Safer said, “it’s a bad idea, and apparently intolerable to one of the finest criminal lawyers I know.”

Powerhouse defense lawyer Ed Genson quit the case last week, in part over the media campaign.

TV interviews are likely to turn off future jurors, Safer said, adding: “A majority of jurors . . . would be deeply offended by someone who speaks like that over the telephone and then compares himself to Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.”

Not to mention that the trial is likely years away. Most of this week’s teevee insanity will be forgotten by potential jurors at that point.

Also, he’s probably doing far more harm to himself with his future judge than any good he might be doing with the jury pool.

As I told you earlier this week, Sam Adam, Jr. is running the show now, and it doesn’t appear to me that he has any idea what he’s doing.

* I am wondering whether something like this might be in the offing before he’s removed from office, however…

Afraid their appeals will fall on deaf ears if Gov. Rod Blagojevich is ousted, several relatives of victims tortured by former Chicago police Commander Jon Burge paid a visit to the governor’s office to ask for pardons.

The impeached governor was not at his office today. Instead he was making national media rounds in New York. Blagojevich was scheduled to appear before the state Senate in his impeachment trial that began today.

Jo Ann Patterson made the trip to the embattled Blagojevich’s office to deliver a letter requesting that he pardon the many victims who were allegedly tortured into confessions by way of beatings and electric shocks by Burge and detectives under his command.

She fears if Blagojevich is convicted by the Senate, the requested pardons won’t have a chance.

Any other predictions about what the governor could do before he’s removed?

* Related…

* Lynn Sweet: Blagojevich likely gains sympathy

* Did show appearances hurt governor?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Honest Abe - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 10:38 am:

    Blagojevich’s final cinematic fantasy is that when the time comes for him to be arrested and taken to prison, he will seek refuge in a crowd and one by one all of the men present begin shouting “I am Spartacus!” and “I am Blagojevich!” In the confusion, the centurions are unable to arrest him.

    It will not work, however, since his helmet hair will give him away.

  2. - Sacks Romana - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 10:40 am:

    Am I missing something with the victim’s pardons? Is there any reason Pat Quinn or another governor wouldn’t be interested in making those pardons? Or is it just the timing that governors and presidents usually only do pardons on the way out. Anyone want to weigh in?

  3. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 10:42 am:

    I’ve never bought the jury pool gambit, either.

    This will all be forgotten by the time he goes to trial, if it ever does. Ollie North and John Pointdexter got juries in DC that had never heard of either one of them or Iran-Contra, if you were around in those days.

    As far as what Blago could do before he leaves, I guess he could fire from state jobs he controls any family members or associates of GA members, Daley, Durbin, Hynes, Obama, Emanuel, etc.

  4. - Secret Square - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 10:46 am:

    The only thing I think he MIGHT still attempt to do is, on the day the conviction vote takes place, file suit to overturn the conviction vote and get a restraining order stopping Quinn from becoming governor. Hopefully no federal judge will be dumb enough to grant an order like that.

  5. - Bill - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 10:46 am:

    ==I guess he could fire from state jobs he controls any family members or associates of GA members, Daley, Durbin, Hynes, Obama, Emanuel, etc.==

    That would pretty much solve the upcoming state payroll crisis. There wouldn’t be anyone left.

  6. - Belle - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 10:47 am:

    He will come to Springfield again. He will climb to the top of the capitol dome where he will begin yelling ‘Look at me Madigan! TOP OF THE WORLD, MIKE. TOP OF THE WORLD’

  7. - bored now - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 10:47 am:

    well, rich, i’ll be even more simplistic (and, thus, get quickly dismissed): i don’t think blagojevich has a strategy, or even a coherent thought about what he is doing. i suspect he got suckered by a pr proposal, which reinforced his own belief that if people only knew the good he had done, they would forgive him for all the bad he’s accused of. this seems to be pretty standard illinois pol thinking, that you can get away with stuff if only you do some good in office. our criminal governor has never been able to adjust to the shifting political environment beneath his feet…

  8. - chiatty - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 10:52 am:

    I sort of doubt that the media activities of the past couple days would have any meaningful effect on the jury pool in the Dirksen Center many months or years down the road, but there is no doubt that he is successfully getting the message out that the impeachment hearing is a bit of a kangaroo court. In essence, they want to impeach him because he tried to “sell” the Senate seat, but the prosecutors acceded to US Atty Fitzgerald’s request that none of the players in that psychodrama be called as witnesses in the impeachment trial. That is ridiculous. Unfortunately for Rod, he also looks ridiculous when he compares himself to Gandhi, Mandela and George Bailey from “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

  9. - Fed-up - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 10:55 am:

    I listened with interest to Geraldo’s diatribe against the process saying that it was unfair to Blago but I had to laugh when he admitted that Blago was a “dirt bag”.

  10. - Amy - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 10:55 am:

    “I’m sayin’ it ain’t so.” “as Shoeless Joe said.” re bad acts committed. Blago just got done with TruTV. and that was part of his response to the host…the Best Defense…who said that defense attorneys would advise him against doing the tour, that one of his attorneys quit, that words could be used against him. he explained that he wants the people of Illinois
    to hear from him, that he has an extra responsibility as a twice elected Gov. to let us know how hard he worked for us, blah, blah, blah.

  11. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 10:57 am:

    release all requests made by members of the GA to the Gov’s office…

  12. - Been There - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 10:58 am:

    Makes a commissioner appointment to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. Maybe even appoints himself, Patti or a Roland Burris relative.

  13. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 10:58 am:

    Well, can impeached governors run for office again.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran for public office again as the champion of the little guy. Maybe this is all the beginning of his next campaign.

  14. - Amy - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:01 am:

    oh no. now the TruTv talking heads are discussing him. Janet Pannisi, a defense attorney, is saying Blago is doing so may brilliant things that defy the law, that his answers about the expletives make sense to the average person, that he is
    likable. that yes, the tour defies what defense attorneys recommend, but he is taking his case to the people and doing great things politically. bleeping awful.

  15. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:02 am:

    ===i suspect he got suckered by a pr proposal===

    This is an old argument: It’s his staff’s fault.


    It’s his fault. It’s always been his fault. He’s the problem. He only listens to those who agree with him, so it’s him.

  16. - Captain Flume - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:08 am:

    An Governor found guilty at an impeachment trial is disqualified from holding any public office again.

  17. - Blago Sphere - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:10 am:


    George Ryan’s holdout juror for acquital, or a hung jury was removed by the judge after she was involved in 8 days of deliberations on the case.

    Despite the fact that juries are only allowed to consider evidence from the case permitted by a judge and no outside influence is allowed to affect deliberations, the removed juror alleged that another juror brought outside material into the jury room that was downloaded from the internet. The outside material was purported as case law saying that a juror can be dismissed for not deliberating in good faith.

    The ousted juror also indicated that the pressure for her to change her verdict vote was so strong that another juror accused her of taking bribes to vote for acquittal.

    I don’t recall that juror indicating any actions taken by George Ryan other than what was entered into evidence at the trial, as having specifically influenced her opinion for acquital on at least some counts. That does not mean however that the Death Row commutations or something else did not influence her opinion.

    In the event that George Ryan’s commutations were designed to influence the jury, and this indeed did influence this particular juror, then the Governor’s effort almost worked.

    The jury that ultimately convicted George Ryan was the second string jury, not the jurors which were originally impaneled to deliberate on the case.

  18. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:11 am:

    ===The jury that ultimately convicted George Ryan ===

    The key word is “convicted.”

  19. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:13 am:

    ===An Governor found guilty at an impeachment trial is disqualified from holding any public office again. ===

    There are two votes. One for removal, the other for the punishment. There might be some contention on that second vote, but both will pass.

  20. - Bill Baar - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:16 am:

    Remember Ford pardoned Nixon before he could ever be tried in a court.

    That could be the plan here: Balgojevich seems resigned to conviction in the Senate and removal as Guv, but all of this talking could be a threat to Obama to go ahead and pardoned Blagojevich before Fitz ever has a chance to try him just as Ford pardoned Nixon before he could ever be tried.

    We still don’t know why Nixon hoped to find in the DNC. We’ll never know plenty about Illinois Democrats.

    So maybe that’s the plan… a preemptive pardon for the Guv on the grounds he was impeached and convicted for being unpopular…

  21. - Objective Dem - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:18 am:

    I think Blago is very smart. He is turning this into a 3 ring circus with national media in order to maximize the money he gets for a book and movie rights. I think it is all disgusting, but I would go see the movie.

  22. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:18 am:

    ===a preemptive pardon for the Guv===

    That is probably the stupidest thing you’ve ever written BB.

  23. - bored now - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:23 am:

    hmmm, i’m not suggesting that it’s his staff’s fault (or even his pr firm’s fault). they proposed something that coincided with his own thinking — and the legacy of how politics in illinois has been done for a long time.

    besides that, i fail to see how blagojevich could have used the “it’s my staff’s fault” argument. he surrounded himself with yes people. i see no evidence of independent thinkers or even people willing to stand up to the governor. he may have offered them up as fall guys, but they could hardly be blamed for his incompetence…

  24. - Captain Flume - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:31 am:

    I had not realized that the punishment was a two-part process. I now see it in the Senate’s impeachment rules, but had thought disqualification was part of the conviction from reading the state constitution.

  25. - Dan S, a Voter and Cubs Fan - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:36 am:

    I agree with Rich, the only one that is responsible for this embarassment is Rod Blagojevich, right now he is like a tennant that has been evicted and he is trashing the place before he finally leaves

  26. - Willie Stark - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:36 am:

    Respectfully, I submit that what Rod thinks he may be accomplishing (tainting the jury pool, among other things)and what he actually accomplishes are two separate questions. I have no disagreement with the contention that if this is an attempt to influence the jury pool, it won’t work. That doesn’t mean, however, that it isn’t what Rod is attempting.

  27. - chicago way - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:39 am:

    Ryan’s jury had a single hold out that would not consider the evidence and would not deliberate. A bold judge took a bold move and removed her and that decision was affirmed, barely. All he needs is one idiot. A 7% approval rating means he has already got at least 1 out of 12.

  28. - Blago Sphere - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:42 am:


    The key word only came about after the jury deliberations were interrupted; suspended, and recommenced.

    Nobody anticipated that might occur, however it does not support your contention that the actions of Governor Ryan did not impact the jury. It only supports your contention with respect to the second string jury; and in and of itself there is no evidence to support that the second string jury considered the outside actions of Governor Ryan and then dismissed them, basing their verdicts solely on the evidence at trial.

    There is equally no evidence to support an opposing opinion that the Governor’s actions influenced the first string jury either.

    My point is that your argument citing conviction as evidence that the outside actions of Governor Ryan did not influence the jury, are not quite so cut and dried, and are not prima facie evidence that they did not.

  29. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:44 am:

    Rod Blagojevich is doing what he always believed was his future; being seen as a national figure.

    The past couple of days has been enormously satisfying to him because he has felt hamstrung by others to present himself as he wishes. He believes, with reason (since he was elected twice as governor), that he has the power to charm, lead, and convince listeners. It has been frustrating for him to watch how he has been laughed at, criminalized and denounced. He has never been one to sit silently, except when work assignments were being passed around, so he is campaigning and enjoys getting his message out.

    So, this isn’t about juries. Rod Blagojevich is enjoying what he sees as his last campaign, making his case with his own words, and feeling the excitement of celebrity. Blagojevich doesn’t like the idea of sitting obediently as the General Assembly disposes of him. He wants to balance the news of his impeachment, with his own version of what is happening to him, before he is thrown out of office.

    Also remember how satisfying it has always been for Blagojevich to win. Watching Roland Burris become senator against the wishes of every Democrat in the United States, was enormously satisfying to him. He was able to make history and win against the top Democrats in Washington. That kind of personal accomplishment can be contagious, even to a humble public servant.

    Blagojevich, the governor who “fights”, is fighting and enjoying the waves he has created. He has always been an important part of his political personality. Even in impeachment, we see him fighting for the love of the fight.

    What will he do next? Whatever it is he is told he cannot do by other leaders he sees as beneath him, conspired against him, and hates. He will enjoy his trial. He will enjoy his notoriety. He will enjoy his resurrection. He will always be a legend in his own mind. Blagojevich is very Nixoneque. That is why he probably cuddled every night with a Pinocchio doll that had a heavy 5 o’clock shadow, and dressed in wingtip shoes and Bermuda shorts, (his very own little Tricky Dick).

  30. - Jake from Elwood - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:46 am:

    I honestly think that Rod just wants to set the record straight publically and he thinks he can turn around his uneclipsed wave of unpopularity by bombarding the airwaves with his “charasmatic” approach. Don’t you get the perception that Rod has deluded himself into thinking he has done nothing wrong other than use profanities.

  31. - Larry Mullholland - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:53 am:

    I suspect that Blago will do what he threatended to do a couple of years ago and attack those he sees as his enemies. As I recall, his people put the word out that the legislators secrets will become public. Girlfiends, contracts & job requests, many things that are normally off the radar screen will be brought to the forefront simply to cause the accusers & their families pain. The “under the bus” method Blago seems to enjoy so much..

  32. - Cheswick - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 11:59 am:

    I heard he has 11 interviews today, including CNN at 7:00 p.m. (our time). It’s like he’s frantically running around, bouncing off the walls, hoping someone will help him. It’s a sorry spectacle.

    It is hard to believe Sam Adam is sitting quietly by while his client goes on this media blitz. Don’t lawyers usually tell their criminally charged clients to keep their mouths shut? Well, so much for that when Blagojevich’s PR strategy overrides his legal strategy.

    And, in the realm of what he might do: Maybe he’ll hire himself as director of the Lincoln Library and Museum. I hear they’re looking, and the job pays real good.

  33. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 12:02 pm:

    ===It is hard to believe Sam Adam is sitting quietly by while his client goes on this media blitz. ===

    Adam is with RRB in New York. Blows that theory, eh? lol

  34. - puzzler - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 12:09 pm:

    How ironic. A guy who elevated media avoidance to an art form is appearing on every nationally televised show that will have him. The Quad City Times, part of the large Lee Newspaper chain that also owns the St. Louis Post Dispatch and Bloomington Pantagraph, published an editorial on Sunday saying the Governor contacted them wanting to tell his side of the story. The editorial noted that after six years of the Governor’s refusals to sit down with the QC Times editorial board, the newspaper was returning the favor. Thanks, but no thanks.

  35. - jury instructions - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 12:15 pm:

    Winston and Strawn orchestrated a media blitz for Ryan–they did so because the pre-trial plublicity was so bad–same thing happening here. Gensen’s client (Ryan’s Chief of Staff) went to jail too– Rod could have stepped down weeks ago under the succession act–if he would have done that he would have avoided impeachment pending the outcome of the federal trial–he is always one step behind and using yesterday’s playbook–not saying this is a smart play, but if he doesn’t try to rehabiliatate the jury pool he is DOA.

  36. - Nuance - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 12:20 pm:

    I suspect he’s playing the only card he’s got left, trying to leverage national media attention while he still has it. Who knows why? It could be to feed a personality disorder or it could be a planned strategy or little of both.

    But it won’t work in the long run and it won’t matter. Any secrets he decides to tell will be met with heavy skepticism and easily dismissed by the target unless there is some corroborating evidence.

  37. - Pat collins - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 12:21 pm:

    Blago will do what he threatended to do a couple of years ago and attack those he sees as his enemies.

    Well, rather late in the game, he sort of needs to do that BEFORE the vote. Or at least contact those he wants to sway…..

  38. - Belle - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 12:39 pm:

    He probably thinks the other 49 will buy into what he says without question because IL did for 2 elections. Not happening, but that never stopped him before.

  39. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 1:25 pm:

    ===A 7% approval rating means he has already got at least 1 out of 12.===

    Since Ryan’s last approval rating was around 24 percent, by your logic then two to three Ryan jurors would’ve been holdouts.

    So, in other words, your logic stinks.

  40. - lincoln street - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 1:46 pm:

    In Natasha Korecki’s story, which you quote positively, Safer says no defense attorney in his right mind would allow it.

    In the PJ Star story, which you merely link to, an attorney seemingly in his right mind said he didn’t think anything damaging happened.

    I think of it the way I think of Drew Peterson’s media appearances. It’s weird, but I don’t really think it affects a jury one way or the other, and regardless of the answer to that question, the governor may think it’s helpful.

  41. - lincoln street - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 1:52 pm:

    >My point is that your argument citing conviction as evidence that the outside actions of Governor Ryan did not influence the jury, are not quite so cut and dried, and are not prima facie evidence that they did not.

    Your argument would make more sense if you didn’t keep calling the people appointed to the original jury “the second string jury.”

  42. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 4:45 pm:

    Lincoln Street, your comparisons between Rod and Drew, to paraprhase Jules Winnfeld, “ain’t same ballpark, ain’t same league, ain’t same sport.”

    What are you talking about?

  43. - Firebelle - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 6:21 pm:

    Have you all forgotten that he needs money? He received a lot of campaign contributions from New York Democrats…..remember the flight to New York with some of the other objectionable people who have become known to us through USA Patrick Fitzgerald’s efforts.

  44. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Jan 27, 09 @ 7:48 pm:

    Firebelle, if you think he raised any money on that trip, I want five gallons of whatever you are drinking- and expect more orders from other posters.

    AA is diametrically opposed to a Blago apologist (aka Bill) but the famous Shakedown Shuttle trip didn’t riase that much dough. Secondly, everyone who was there except the waiters and bellboys has had at least a how ya dooin visit from the G, so I doubt the re-up rate at this point would even hit oh, 7 percent.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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