* The governor made a fool of himself in front of NBC 5’s Phil Rogers and several other Chicago reporters last week. Carol Marin has part of the play-by play…
Rogers kicked off the questioning: Governor, did that conversation [regarding Stu Levine’s claim that Blagojevich allegedly told him, “Stick with us and you’ll do very well for yourself”] happen?
Blago: “Let me answer that question with an answer. I’m not a party in that [Tony Rezko] trial. I’m not following the trial. It would be inappropriate of me to comment on a trial I’m not a part in.” […]
Rich Samuels of WTTW: Did Blagojevich have a conversation on an airplane with Stuart Levine?
Blago: “You know it’s a good question. I’m not a party in that trial. I’m not in a place where I think it’s appropriate to comment on a trial I’m not involved in.”
Then Carlos Hernandez-Gomez of CLTV: Was the governor’s chief of staff Lon Monk clearing decisions through Tony Rezko as Levine has testified?
Blago (taking a noisy sip of water): “Let me answer that question. I’m not a party to that trial.”
Then Phil Rogers once again: What was the governor’s relationship to Tony Rezko and Stuart Levine?
Blago (another noisy sip of water, his eyes peering over the paper cup):
“Look I’ve asked and answered that a million times. You just ought to go back and take a look at your clippings.”
* Eventually, the governor did talk a little about the trial, contradicting his earlier statements that he couldn’t comment. When he did, Blagojevich tried, as his his wont, to pass the buck…
“One of the ironies here is you’re talking about one person here, Mr. Levine, who gave $790,000 to Jim Ryan, my opponent for governor in 2002,” Blagojevich said. “If you want to ask about relationships, you ought to ask him about that.”
When it was noted that Levine has never suggested that he did anything illegal with Jim Ryan, which he maintains he did do with those close to the governor, Blagojevich responded, “You know that is not true.”
“You know that is not true, and the way you ask that question is dishonest,” Blagojevich said.
The question, Rogers reported, was asked a couple of more times in various forms, but the answer was always the same.
“I have said again, I am not a party to that case,” Blagojevich said. “It is a full-time job being governor, getting things done for people. It’s inappropriate for me to comment on that, and you know the answer.”
* To sum up: “I’m not gonna answer. I’m not gonna answer. I’m not gonna answer. But, look over there at those evil Republicans!!! OK, so you didn’t take the bait, therefore, I’m not gonna answer. Next question?”
Expect more of the same for the next three months.
Tony Rezko’s lawyers are trying to keep out of his trial portions of a secretly recorded phone call in which Republican power broker William Cellini talks of pay-to-play tactics in Gov. Blagojevich’s administration.
“Tony and Chris . . . are . . . essentially hammerin’ people . . . with contracts for fund-raising.” Cellini says on tape, according to a defense filing. “I’m a nervous wreck over it myself.”
Cellini is referring to Rezko and fellow Blagojevich fund-raiser Chris Kelly in a converstion with Stuart Levine, the government’s star witness.
All reporters have heard pretty much the same thing over the years. If you got a state contract, you got a follow-up call from a fundraiser. And the tactics were reportedly on the hardball side.