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Dispute rages over what US Attorney Lausch said about how to proceed with Madigan hearings

Tuesday, Sep 15, 2020

* Tribune

The U.S. attorney’s office told state lawmakers probing the conduct of House Speaker Michael Madigan it had no objections to the panel calling on Madigan or others to testify, members of the committee said.

The state House special investigative committee launched its investigation of Madigan over the federal Commonwealth Edison bribery case last week. Three Republican committee members submitted a voluntary witness list that included Madigan and several other people who have been implicated in the federal investigation, including former ComEd executives and lobbyists.

“We wanted to check with the U.S. attorney’s office about whether they would have any objection to us calling Speaker Madigan to testify, or calling any of those other individuals who are part of that deferred prosecution agreement,” said state Rep. Tom Demmer, a Republican from Dixon. “And they informed us today that they have no objection to us calling those individuals.”

* From the committee chairman, Rep. Chris Welch…

The US Attorney made it clear we could seek testimony from whoever we choose; however, they requested we refrain from seeking any materials or testimony related to the DPA that is still confidential or anything in the possession of the federal government. In other words, we can call witnesses, but we can’t really ask them any questions. We also agreed to memorialize today’s call in a follow up letter and Mr. Lausch agreed to respond to us quickly. As soon as I get Lausch’s written response, I will share that with the committee and the media.

As a committee we agreed we would take no actions that could interfere with the work of federal prosecutors. Today myself and Rep Demmer spoke with the US Attorney and agreed we would put our request in writing and they would respond. But once again my Republican colleagues have disrespected the process for political gain. As an attorney, I understand the difficult position we are putting the US attorney in, but I appreciate their willingness to help guide us.

* WBEZ

“How anyone even found out about the fact that we even had the call [Monday] only tells me that someone’s trying to score political points,” Welch said. “I think the GOP realized that the U.S. attorney said what he said and that we were not gonna be able to get documents and information that they’re seeking. And so they jumped the gun. They’re trying to score political points. They know exactly what he said and they only shared parts of the story.” […]

Demmer, however, said Lausch’s instructions open the door for Madigan himself to be called before the legislative panel, which was convened after Republicans pushed for its creation.

“Members of the committee and other elected officials in Illinois have suggested that this special investigative committee might be a forum in which [Madigan] could provide some sought-after answers,” Demmer said. “And so, the indication [Monday] that there is no objection by the U.S. attorney to us calling Speaker Madigan for a testimony … helps clear the path to getting some of those answers.” […]

A spokesman for Lausch did not respond to a voicemail late Monday.

* From the House Republicans…

What [the US Attorney’s office] said is they did not want ComEd talking about documents they may have gotten from the feds. [ComEd] could talk about the DPA. We also can call the witnesses. Said nothing about not talking about the DPA. They did not object to us calling ComEd to testify about the DPA.

* Back to Welch…

That’s not what Lausch said and more reasons why Demmer should have waited for Lausch’s letter as we had agreed. This entire he say/she say could have been avoided but they wanted to leak it to the media to score political points.

* I followed up again with the HGOPs…

There was no indication we have to stay within the parameters of the DPA. There was no objection to asking witnesses to testify. They didn’t want us asking for docs that a witness (mainly ComEd) would have gotten from the Feds and were not included in the DPA. It was specific to the DPA.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

45 Comments »
  1. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:02 am:

    Tom Demmer;

    The living embodiment of “never mistake activity for achievement”

    … part 6,894


  2. - Bruce( no not him) - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:03 am:

    “…someone’s trying to score political points,”
    Shocked this could happen in Illinois. /S


  3. - Donnie Elgin - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:04 am:

    = In other words, we can call witnesses, but we can’t really ask them any questions=

    Political Protection - Madigan’s stock and trade.


  4. - NotRich - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:07 am:

    poop show.. I am still not sure that Demmer and the others have actually accused Rep Madigan of a crime? If they want him expelled they will have to do that at some point


  5. - Wes - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:08 am:

    Of course the feds want the HGOP to seek and get the most information they can. At this point there is nothing Madigan can say in one of these hearings that can help him, only hurt him.


  6. - Sylvania - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:09 am:

    listening to Illinois Dems complain about scoring political points….oy vey


  7. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:11 am:

    Perspective?

    The witnesses are more apt to listen and recite their Miranda Rights then be willing to be sworn in to give testimony under oath.

    That’s the ball game.


  8. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:16 am:

    === Political Protection===

    … by a Republican appointed US Attorney?

    Do better, thanks.

    ===If they want him expelled they will have to do that at some point===

    Never…. never mistake activity for achievement.

    Demmer is once again showing that here.


  9. - Eloy - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:20 am:

    Lausch should take the rare step of issuing a statement. Otherwise we’ll be here all year.


  10. - This Just In - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:23 am:

    It goes without saying the Democrats do not want to have to call the Speaker to testify. Would it get any more awkward than that for them?

    Wishing upon the stars that he would leave and having to bend over backwards to protect the Speaker has got to be a very weird position for Rep. Welch and the Dems.


  11. - Anon y mouse - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:23 am:

    Lol. They will be sworn in– many, like Madigan, already have been in fact. Nevertheless, if Madigan takes the Fifth that is his right. Of course, negative inferences can be drawn therefrom as the charge against Madigan is conduct unbecoming. The burden of proof is not beyond a reasonable doubt, because this isn’t a criminal trial- not even preponderance of the evidence in fact…the burden is what the House committee says it is. Now the “jury” is split 3-3, so a partisan roll call is destined to occur. But not before real angst and anxiety for the Speaker & the House Dems. Pass the popcorn!


  12. - Just Me 2 - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:24 am:

    ===They’re trying to score political points. ===

    Dude, it’s election season.


  13. - Donnie Elgin - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:24 am:

    =… by a Republican appointed US Attorney?=

    Welch is pushing the “but we can’t really ask them any questions” narrative not Lausch.


  14. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:27 am:

    ===to protect===

    From what?

    You think anyone called to testify is going to say… anything?

    What has the Republican appointed US attorney stated, if we’re gonna go all political, but I thought this was a good government thingy?

    For the record, again, time 1,494… I think Madigan should resign.


  15. - This Just In - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:31 am:

    From appearing before the committee. Being dragged in there to plead the 5th is a very bad look for the beleaguered one, even if it is totally political.

    When is the last time the Speaker was slapped around in public and couldn’t do anything about it? Early 70’s, if ever.


  16. - Nummy yummy - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:31 am:

    Can anyone please explain why the 79 year old Madigan refuses to go away. He is a liabity to his members, Democrats, and most importantly to the people of Illinios. Please Mike, if your reading this resign.


  17. - Ok - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:32 am:

    Speaker Welch continues to show he is the adult in the room.


  18. - Huh? - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:35 am:

    Act 2 of the silly circus.


  19. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:35 am:

    === Being dragged in there..===

    LOL

    In shackles and chains?

    Nope.

    A letter.

    “Thanks but no thanks, this letter is me pleading the 5th

    With kindest personal regards, I remain…. “

    Your imagination is boundless.


  20. - Legalese - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:39 am:

    The GOP has the advantage here because most people don’t understand how criminal law, grand juries, and federal investigations work.

    A prosecutor wont object to an alleged witness testifying. The act of objecting risks divulging grand jury materials and exposing themselves to criminal prosecution. They also don’t share documents with witnesses or targets unless there is an indictment and they have to present during discovery. They collect materials and use what they want, but it’s all confidential if it was or may be used before a grand jury.

    USA Lausch is a very smart and savvy man. He’s not risking his investigations or his future for cheap tricks by the GOP.


  21. - ILPundit - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:44 am:

    It’s hard not to get the impression that what really has Welch & Co. angered is that Demmer & Co are playing hardball. The fact is that the Democrats in the House are not accustomed to playing defense.

    The old political adage is that “when you are explaining, you’re losing”? Well, Welch is doing a lot of explaining. Whether fair or not, it makes him look like he’s carrying water for the Speaker.


  22. - Chicagonk - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:53 am:

    @ILPundit - Because he is carrying water for Madigan.


  23. - Jocko - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 11:03 am:

    ==Being dragged in there to plead the 5th==

    Witness are being asked to ‘volunteer’ testimony and the US Attorney has asked they refrain from questioning. What is there to plead?


  24. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 11:07 am:

    === Witness are being asked to ‘volunteer’ testimony and the US Attorney has asked they refrain from questioning. What is there to plead?===

    That’s on me, “humoring”… my bad.


  25. - Frmer staffph - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 11:15 am:

    ILPundit said: The fact is that the Democrats in the House are not accustomed to playing defense.

    — beg to differ, the democrats are playing defense and offense up and down the field you just don’t know it. They have been successful by doing both, something the Republicans have not figured out I think. Also, I still feel the Republicans are playing defense with calling the committee. Just the read I get on it. Muddling the waters is a reactionary move. It’s fine they are doing it but hardly hardball.


  26. - Legalese - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 11:15 am:

    @ ILPundit - He seems to be the only one actually focused on process and not getting in the way of the feds. Plus he has a law license and knows if he takes any actions that could be contrary to the feds request he could face an ARDC beef. That’s not politics, that’s following the law.


  27. - southsider - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 11:20 am:

    Is it just me or are we seeing a preview of what’s to come between a future Speaker and future minority leader?


  28. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 11:26 am:

    ===A prosecutor wont object to an alleged witness testifying===

    OK, but they do object to what can be asked.


  29. - Druid Eye - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 11:33 am:

    Nummy yummy 10:31am…

    Speaker Madigan is not 79 years old. He is a “young 78″..and is on record saying so.


  30. - Sensitive Nancy - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 11:34 am:

    Wait, a House Dem objects to holding a public hearing to score political points? Isn’t that right out of MJM’s playbook? Welch is in a difficult spot, sure, but does he really want to stake his political reputation and future on Michael Madigan’s innocence? He’d have more luck boarding the Titanic. Welch would be smart to recognize he could use this perch to score some political points of his own, and maybe even establish himself as an independent leader, if he’d use this power to do some good.


  31. - Lincoln Lad - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 11:39 am:

    Lausch will need to clarify via a statement… and hopefully privately tell the involved officials not to put words in their mouths.


  32. - Legalese - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 11:40 am:

    == - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 11:26 am:

    ===A prosecutor wont object to an alleged witness testifying===

    OK, but they do object to what can be asked. =

    Correct, Rich. The point was the prosecutor cannot object to someone being asked to testify before another government body. You rightfully point out they can severely limit what that person can respond to or what information the person can provide publicly.

    The feds have not confirmed Madigan’s status related to the investigation. Based on the DPA, he could be a target, witness, cooperator or an innocent bystander. It is likely no matter which label is given he will be instructed not to share any information that would divulge the status. That alone could result in tampering with the investigation or obstructing the work of the grand jury.

    It is sensational to presume this investigation is about Madigan, the person, when it could be about the activities of those trying to curry favor with the position of Speaker. Legally those are two very different targets.


  33. - Pundent - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 11:44 am:

    ===A prosecutor wont object to an alleged witness testifying===

    It will be compelling testimony. “What do you have to say for yourself? Objection, questions aren’t allowed. You can answer. I have nothing to say. No further questions.”


  34. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 11:46 am:

    === Michael Madigan’s innocence?===

    Has Madigan been… charged?

    “We’ll convict, then we’ll indict and try”

    (Sigh)

    To the Post,

    If Demmer is bent on hearings, he should actually achieve 60 members to agree with him and force the committee to acquiesce to the majority of House members, as the committee is split 3-3

    But, that means achieving something.

    This is activity right now.

    Those concerned the Dems are playing politics, the Raunerites are confused, yet again, that they have leverage on their own existence… or their political play is indeed silly activity.


  35. - northsider (the original) - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 12:20 pm:

    It’s amusing that the Republicans, after spending years and millions attacking Madigan, seem to be doing their utmost to torpedo the federal investigation in exchange for 30 seconds of grandstanding.


  36. - LarryLitesOut - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 12:23 pm:

    Fire. Ready, Aim
    Looks like Trump DOJ may have drenched Durken’s last minute probe with confusion
    Seems like all sides could decline to discuss given GOPies rants
    But it may open door for NoTaxBill, Chris , Tom Cross and even Durkien to appear to explain how their identical conduct —votes, donations, staff & collegues hired — makes them different
    Opps.


  37. - Anyone Remember - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 12:28 pm:

    IF Welch, as quoted in yesterday’s Trib is correct & accurate, the US Attorney “permitting” witnesses to testify is nothing more than enabling the GOP’s decades long crusade to get Speaker Madigan under oath. If he invokes the 5th in public just before an election, so much the better.


  38. - Eloy - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 12:42 pm:

    Not sure I follow, Legalese. Let’s play it out to the end and say there’s an indictment, followed by a not guilty plea and a subsequent trial. Lausch and his team are really going to be ok with subjecting potential witnesses to impeachable moments before a public body? Can’t figure out why he’s ok with calling witnesses, but it sure *seems* like he’d want nothing, nor any testimony, interfering with his ability to put on the strongest case possible.


  39. - Frmer staffph - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 12:54 pm:

    ==But it may open door for… even Durkien to appear to explain how their identical conduct —votes, donations, staff & collegues hired — makes them different Opps.==

    Exactly right, there are plenty of former House Republican legislators both dead and alive who have lobbied for com ed. Durkin and Demmer need to acknowledge that or publish a list of those names. Obviously they won’t because they have no vision for how to fix com ed power plays in Springfield. They have not even acknowledged those constituents struggling to keep their lights on. They have missed all these messaging opportunities.

    == [Republicans] seem to be doing their utmost to torpedo the federal investigation in exchange for 30 seconds of grandstanding.==

    Good big picture observation. more proof HGOP is not acting on behalf of people they represent and/or have no clue what they are doing.

    The HGOP legal and ethics team does not know how to work with an ongoing investigation despite having outside counsel. What is in the dpa that they want to ask about… just come out with it already.


  40. - Louis G Atsaves - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 1:40 pm:

    Seems like all this back and forth and tug of war stuff just keeps this scandal in the news and keeps dragging Madigan back into this mess, deservedly or undeservedly so. As a Republican, all I can say is, by all means, keep on squabbling folks.


  41. - Take a closer look - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 2:53 pm:

    Political junkies are posting comments here, but how many voters are paying attention to this inside baseball? Do voters care about Mike Madigan? Or, are they worried about having a job? Seems to me the Republicans are trying to distract people from Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, record unemployment, and their lack of a plan to address anything other than Fire Madigan. Welch, Manley and Hernandez can play this game all day. They don’t have November opponents. I think the losers here will be Wehrli and Mazzochi and Madigan will be re-elected as Speaker in January 2021.


  42. - LarryLitesOut - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 3:11 pm:

    Take a closer look — The GOP have been banging the Madigan drum so long that the father of Fire Madigan fashion line came out against CommandoJeane last week.


  43. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 3:58 pm:

    === Seems like all this back and forth and tug of war stuff just keeps this scandal in the news and keeps dragging Madigan back into this mess, deservedly or undeservedly so. As a Republican, all I can say is, by all means, keep on squabbling folks.===

    Fire Madigan is a failed strategy.

    I’m not surprised you still think it helps.


  44. - HighSox - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 9:55 pm:

    ===As a Republican, all I can say is, by all means, keep on squabbling folks.===

    Willy, if u are a GOP, your’re not a very good one.


  45. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 15, 20 @ 10:00 pm:

    - HighSox -

    If “Fire Madigan” was a person… he/she would have graduated college, bought a house, and be knocking on the door of the back end of their 20s

    But by all means, cheer failed political strategy from the 1990s


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