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The Blagojevich Timeline: Everything Fits Easily Except Obama's Monday Denial.

Most people have misunderstood the timeline of the Blagojevich Senate scandal. Pretty much everything fits except Barack Obama's statement yesterday that he knew nothing about it.

If we didn't have Obama's denial to contend with, the actions of all the parties, including those purporting to speak for Obama, are consistent with Obama and his staff learning about Blagojevich's corrupt plans on Monday, Nov. 10.

Consider the timeline, as revealed in the complaint and press reports:

1. On the weekend of Nov. 8-9, Obama lets it be known that his choice for Senate is Valerie Jarrett. Aides tell WLS-TV in Chicago and CNN, which announces Obama's choice on Sunday. Nov. 9.

2. On Monday, Nov. 10, Blagojevich holds an incredible 2-hour conference call with multiple consultants: "ROD BLAGOJEVICH, his wife, JOHN HARRIS, Governor General Counsel, and various Washington-D.C. based advisors, including Advisor B," discussing his corrupt schemes. He follows this with two calls with Advisor A.

3. That very night, Monday, Nov. 10, at 7:56pm, CNN reported:

Two Democratic sources close to President-elect Barack Obama tell CNN that top adviser Valerie Jarrett will not be appointed to replace him in the U.S. Senate.

"While he (Obama) thinks she would be a good senator, he wants her in the White House," one top Obama advisor told CNN Monday.

Over the weekend, Democratic sources had told CNN as well as Chicago television station WLS-TV that Jarrett was Obama's choice to fill his Senate seat.

So what happened? The likeliest scenario is that one of the many participants in Blagojevich's Monday phone calls either floated his plans to the Obama transition team to assess their response or tipped off the Obama camp about the reckless ideas that Blagojevich had planned.

In any event, within hours of Blagojevich substantially expanding his circle of confidants, the Obama camp withdrew Jarrett's name from consideration and attributed that withdrawal to the President's wanting Jarrett in the White House. And the Obama staffers went out of their way to depict this as Obama's choice, rather than Jarrett's, which would have been more common. The report claims Obama's involvement in the decision and suggests a direct effort to undercut the idea that Obama was pressuring Blagojevich to appoint Jarrett.

4. Moreover, by the next day, Tuesday, Nov. 11, Blagojevich already had received his answer from the Obama camp that no quid pro quo would be forthcoming: "ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he knows that the President-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat but 'they're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. F**k them.'"

5. On Wednesday, Nov. 12, Blagojevich pitched his corrupt bargain idea to an SEIU Official who, according to Ben Smith, is President Andy Stern. [On Dec. 11, the New York Times identified the official as Tom Balanoff, head of Illinois' largest union and Obama's biggest union supporter. The SEIU official] agreed to convey the offer to the relevant actors. Blagojevich understood [the SEIU official] to be contacting Jarrett herself, the co-chairwoman of the Obama transition team:

109. On November 12, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with SEIU Official, who was in Washington, D.C. Prior intercepted phone conversations indicate that approximately a week before this call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH met with SEIU Official to discuss the vacant Senate seat, and ROD BLAGOJEVICH understood that SEIU Official was an emissary to discuss Senate Candidate 1's interest in the Senate seat.

During the conversation with SEIU Official on November 12, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH informed SEIU Official that he had heard the President-elect wanted persons other than Senate Candidate 1 to be considered for the Senate seat.

SEIU Official stated that he would find out if Senate Candidate 1 wanted SEIU Official to keep pushing her for Senator with ROD BLAGOJEVICH. ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that "one thing I'd be interested in" is a 501(c)(4) organization.

ROD BLAGOJEVICH explained the 501(c)(4) idea to SEIU Official and said that the 501(c)(4) could help "our new Senator [Senate Candidate 1]." SEIU Official agreed to "put that flag up and see where it goes."

110. On November 12, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Advisor B. ROD BLAGOJEVICH told Advisor B that he told SEIU Official, "I said go back to [Senate Candidate 1], and, and say hey, look, if you still want to be a Senator don't rule this out and then broach the idea of this 501(c)(4) with her."

6. The complaint doesn't say whether [the SEIU official] contacted Jarrett or other members of the Obama transition team, but it is likely that he did. [On Dec. 11, the New York Times reported that Balanoff did ferry messages from the Blagojevich camp to the Obama camp.] Whether [the SEIU official] was horrified by Blagojevich's corrupt idea and wanted to warn Obama or intrigued by the deal and wanted to assess its chances, I can't think of a good reason why [the SEIU official] wouldn't have conveyed the idea to the Obama camp.

7. On Thursday, Nov. 13:

ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked Advisor A to call Individual A and have Individual A pitch the idea of the 501(c)(4) to "[President-elect Advisor]." Advisor A said that, "while it's not said this is a play to put in play other things." ROD BLAGOJEVICH responded, "correct." Advisor A asked if this is "because we think there's still some life in [Senate Candidate 1] potentially?" ROD BLAGOJEVICH said, "not so much her, but possibly her. But others."

8. If, as seems likely, Individual A then pitched Blagojevich's corrupt bargain to the "President-elect Advisor" and that advisor is Rahm Emanuel, as has been suggested by others, then Emanuel would then have known of the bribery attempt.

9. By 6:10pm on Friday, Nov. 14, CNN is reporting:

Valerie Jarrett tells CNN contributor Roland Martin that President-elect Barack Obama offered and she accepted a position in the Obama administration -- she will be the Senior Adviser to the President and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison.

10. Nov. 14 to early December: After occasionally feeding speculation about who might fill Obama's seat, the Obama transition team suddenly goes remarkably silent about his preference.

11. On Nov. 23, Obama's "senior adviser David Axelrod appeared on Fox News Chicago," answering a question about the Senate seat.

While insisting that the President-elect had not expressed a favorite to replace him, and his inclination was to avoid being a "kingmaker," Axelrod said, "I know he's talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them."

Note the language used. While on Nov. 9, Obama staffers were telling multiple news outlets whom Obama wanted for his Senate seat, by Nov. 23, Axelrod was distancing Obama not only from any individual choice, but he used the pejorative term "kingmaker" to emphasize Obama's avoidance of any even marginally corrupt influence. It is likely that Axelrod had in mind the corrupt bargain that Obama's camp had already turned down.

12. On Tuesday, Dec. 9, Obama denies personal knowledge of the corrupt proposal.

"I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening."

As I've said before, as with Bill Clinton, Barack Obama's words should be read carefully to see what he is saying and not saying. Apparently, Obama started to say that "we were not" "aware of what was happening," but corrected himself by saying that "I was not aware of what was happening."

That language leaves open the possibility that his staff was aware, but he personally was not. But why would Obama's staff withhold information from him? I assume that Obama is telling the truth about not having spoken to the governor himself, since that might be easily refuted.

CONCLUSION:

From the evening of Nov. 10 until yesterday, Blagojevich, Obama, and his transition team acted in ways that are consistent with a knowledge of Blagojevich's bribery attempt and a rejection of that attempt. What doesn't fit easily with the timeline is Obama's statement yesterday.

It should be noted that it is not a crime to fail to report a bribery attempt. The federal misprision of felony statute would seem to make it a federal crime to fail to report a federal felony:

Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both. 18 USC s.4.

But case law has conclusively determined that mere non-reporting is not enough. Active concealment or the acceptance of a benefit for concealing is required.

Yet, looking at this timeline of Blagogate, it seems quite possible that someone in the Obama Camp is either lying or at least not revealing what they know. I also find it hard to believe that Obama's closest advisors were hiding major corruption from him, especially as he was making decisions about where to place Senate candidates such as Jarrett.

Something important is missing from this story. Let's hope that, whatever it is, the absent fact or explanation will allow the narrative to fit Obama's denial more naturally.

Since by all accounts, the Obama camp refused Blagojevich's bribery attempt, it would be extremely unwise to lie about it. Remember, it's not the crime that trips you up; it's the cover-up.

UPDATE: My parsing of Obama's statement above gets some strong support from this LA Times interview, noted by Byron York:

It hasn't gotten a huge amount of coverage, but Obama did an interview with the Los Angeles Times yesterday. He said he had never talked about the Senate seat with Rod Blagojevich. But when he was asked whether his staff had, he clammed up. From the interview:

Q: Have you ever spoken to [Illinois] Gov. [Rod R.] Blagojevich about the Senate seat?

Obama: I have not discussed the Senate seat with the governor at any time. My strong belief is that it needed to be filled by somebody who is going to represent the people of Illinois and fight for them. And beyond that, I was focused on the transition.

Q: And that was before and after the election?

Obama: Yes.

Q: Are you aware of any conversations between Blagojevich or [chief of staff] John Harris and any of your top aides, including Rahm [Emanuel]?

Obama: Let me stop you there because . . . it's an ongoing.... investigation. I think it would be inappropriate for me to, you know, remark on the situation beyond the facts that I know. And that's the fact that I didn't discuss this issue with the governor at all.

So I was correct that Obama was indeed drawing a distinction between what he knew and what his staff might have known.

As I said above, there is something missing here. It wouldn't surprise me if Obama staffers were working with the prosecutors (from the week of Nov. 10th on), a possibility suggested in comments below. But it would surprise me if Obama staffers went to the feds without telling Obama.

2d UPDATE: I see that the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire ("Blagojevich's Big Conference Call and Valerie Jarrett's Clean Break") adopts my analysis (without linking me). In particular, they accept my narrative and dating of the break in the case as happening on Nov. 10, not Nov. 12, as was the consensus before I wrote this post.

fred williams:
I'm unhappy at the 3d quote WSJ gives, where the governor says he wants to fire the editorial writers at the Tribune who have criticized him.

what in the world did they do to comply with their minimization obligations? even if they could justify this quote as providing context to a "relevant" statement in the same conversation, why in the world did thy publicize it?

my instinct is that this is a violation of the wiretap act, and in a perfect world some gov't people ought to have some serious questions to answer ...

the press has right to criticize politicians, who have the same right to criticize back
12.10.2008 6:26am
AWT (mail):
"Let's hope that, whatever it is, the absent fact or explanation will allow the narrative to reveal Obama's denial to be an impeachable offense ."

Fixed.

I have no problem with the intense focus on this amazing story, but let's not pretend that our "hopes" for its outcome are anything other than what they are.
12.10.2008 6:43am
John McCall (mail):
fred williams: as I understand it, Blagojevich didn't just idly wish that the Tribune editors would be fired, he tried to use his power as governor to induce the Tribune's owners to fire them.
12.10.2008 6:43am
Cardozo'd (www):
It absolutely amazes me the kind of leaps and bounds people who oppose other people are willing to take to try and cast someone in a negative light. The likilihood that he knew something of the bribery is EXACTLY the same as him not knowing about the bribery.


his transition team acted in ways that are consistent with a knowledge of Blagojevich's bribery attempt and a rejection of that attempt

It also happens to fit perfectly for a team that mispoke in an attempt to show Obama was touching all bases (by speaking to the governor of his own home state) when in fact it didn't happen and now they have perfectly fine explanation.

The scandal rousing is amazing. Some people need to just calm down. This is absurd.

Plus, even if he did know, there was an investigation going on, is he supposed to interfere?
12.10.2008 6:52am
John McCall (mail):
Professor, under your interpretation, someone who tried to hide the fact that they'd lost money in a mail scam would be prosecutable for failure to disclosure a federal felony. Are you sure there isn't an exception for victims/targets of crimes?
12.10.2008 6:54am
Gregory Conen (mail):
Seriously? I thought we were done with the paranoia and rumor-mongering after the election.
12.10.2008 6:56am
NatSecLawGuy:
I think it is entirely plausible that members of Obama's transition team had knowledge of the bribe, and that Obama was aware of it. All Obama said was that "I did not have contact with the Governor." That doesn't say whether he knew about the attempted bribes, or not.

Let me float a third proposal other than (1) he didn't know, and (2) he did know and didn't report. The third proposal is that (3) he did know and the transition team is and was working with the US Attorneys office.

Knowing a little about US Attorney investigations, I know that they don't pull the trigger on releasing until their darn well ready, and know for sure they have a solid case. Obama was quick to point out yesterday that he would not comment on the investigation as it is ongoing, but had every interest to discuss everything. The language he gave yesterday, about not commenting on an ongoing investigation, sounds like the same language I heard from Pat Fitzgerald yesterday.

The theory may out in left field, but surely its more plausible than some of the conspiracy theories we will see in the coming days.
12.10.2008 6:58am
Pete Freans (mail):
The real question is had the Governor not been under federal surveillance and his conversations recorded, would it have been business as usual filling the President-elect's seat, with his (Obama) full "knowledge" of the situation? I think most readers already know the answer.
12.10.2008 7:15am
SamT:
AWT is right, the author of the post should just be honest about his hopes. Clearly, the post wants to cast the denial in a sinister light, then when it gets to the denial, the post says it's probably half true and easily all true. Shocking.

Besides, the prosecution, if it wants to be sucessful against Blago, has to distance Obama and his team from the prosecution against the Gov, unless they want to deal with charges that the prosecuter is being influenced by his future boss.
12.10.2008 7:26am
Al Maviva:
let's not pretend that our "hopes" for its outcome are anything other than what they are.

What are you talking about? I kind of wish Fitzgerald would have let the corruption fester a while longer. It would have been a good show to have a sitting senator indicted for paying for his (or her) seat. Fitzgerald may have trouble when he brings this case to trial because a lot of what was offered was "you give me a seat here, and I'll give your candidate a seat there." Blago will also argue that when he discussed money, he was simply wanting federal earmarks for state purposes. Obama's people likely got wind of what Blago wanted pretty early on, and walked off, so I think efforts to tie him into this are lame, and ultimately will do more to undermine the prosecution than help it by turning the assault on Blago into an assault on Obama. I think that some of the Friends of Bill used this as a legal public relations strategy back in the 90's, to some effect.
12.10.2008 7:41am
Gary McGath (www):
It will be interesting to see what comes out. I find it inherently unlikely that Obama was unaware of the governor's machinations, whether or not he had certain knowledge that Blagojevich was soliciting bribes. The guy isn't stupid, and he didn't get where he is without selectively overlooking wrongdoing.
12.10.2008 7:43am
Modus Ponens:
but how do Bill Ayers and Rev. Wright fit into the picture?

put bloodhound Bernstein on the case, please.
12.10.2008 7:46am
DNL (mail):
I'm with NatSecLawGuy.

The most likely scenario here is the one that has Obama's team reporting Blago to the authorities.

The authories must receive a huge amount of "tips" that a high-ranking (and visible) government official is corrupt. I bet they ignore 99% of them. They investigate those which come from credible sources or who bring evidence; or, if enough people speak up saying the same general thing, then they go into action.

Based on the allegations, it's not terribly likely that an unknown tipsters (i.e. someone without Obama's credentials; a random man off the street) came to the authorities with a pile of cassette tapes of conversations. And while the amount of indiscretions are numerous, I seriously doubt that there were many tips. So I'm betting that the tip came from someone on the offered end of a bribe/blackmail who has some credence, such as a high-level person at the Chicago Tribune, or an Obama advisor.

The next question: Who did the tipster go to? If the person has the ability to reach then-Senator Obama (and then-Nominee Obama), it makes a lot of sense to ask for his campaign's help in getting this to the proper authorities. A phone call from one of Obama's confidants to the Fitzpatrick's office would get the ball moving.

If that's the case, Obama himself probably did run from the conversations (which supports Prof. Lindgren's parsing of the statement) as to avoid the coming sh*tstorm. So there's consistency there, too.
12.10.2008 7:54am
SamT:
DNL, are you suggesting that this tip came in October, when Blago was first wiretapped? And that the subsequent actions of the Obama team were part of the sting?
12.10.2008 8:17am
Dave!:
"I also find it hard to believe that Obama's closest advisors were hiding major corruption from him, especially as he was making decisions about where to place Senate candidates such as Jarrett."

Really??? I think that's incredibly naive. I think it's entirely plausible that a senior advisor would try to keep something like that from their candidate/president and even go so far as to fall on the sword. Scooter Libby, anyone?

There's little--okay, no--doubt in my mind about Blago, but the timeline you gave fits with Obama being above the fray nicely, and Blago's own surreptitiously recorded comments seem to indicate that even if Blago outright tried to twist the arm of the Obama people, it didn't work.

And I would like to see the evidence you have that conclusively shows that the Obama camp *didn't* report it... Just because they aren't telling *us* they didn't report it, doesn't mean they didn't. Even the Trib sat on the story at the behest of investigators.

I'm sure more will come out as this progresses, but so far, the evidence I've seen, which you detailed pretty nicely, seems to put Obama and his camp in the clear.
12.10.2008 8:18am
flyerhawk:
Somewhere Bill Clinton is reading this "story" or another one like it and saying "You're turn, Obama".

Of course the story isn't that Blago was peddling a Senate seat. The REAL story is in what ways did Obama LIE. Sure there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that indicates that Obama lied. But if you re-create the timeline and fill the massive gaps in your timeline with wild speculation, then you can come up with an argument that shows that Obama lied.

I think saw this same thing when I watched Oliver Stone's JFK. When faced with complete unknowns, make crap up and present it as real.
12.10.2008 8:48am
Alexia:

Blagojevich didn't just idly wish that the Tribune editors would be fired, he tried to use his power as governor to induce the Tribune's owners to fire them.


Not just his power - the way I understand it, he threatened to withhold state money if they didn't fire the editorial writers who offended him. (I wish it were hard to believe that the newspaper didn't see a possible conflict about taking government money while pretending to report on the government, but it isn't.)
12.10.2008 8:51am
ShelbyC:
AWT, SamT, you wanna explain again why you think the author wants Biden to be president? Your logic seems a little funny to me.
12.10.2008 9:11am
pmorem (mail):
I opposed Obama in the election.

However, he is now going to be MY President. I want to see him be a good President for the good of the country.

I'd really like to see Obama be honest and clean, even if he has to "throw people under the bus" to do it. Especially if he throws the Chicago Machine under the bus.

I think this mess could be a good thing, if Obama rises to the occaision. I hope he does.
12.10.2008 9:12am
Plutosdad (mail):
This is why, as a Chicagoan, while I am willing to believe Obama is not personally corrupt, he definitely hides his head in the sand and plays the "see/hear no evil" game. He'd have to in this town. I was even more confirmed of this when the several ACORN scandals erupted weeks before the election, and instead of promising to prosecute any wrongdoing - which he has said he would do vis a vis Iraq - he said that there is no such thing as Democratic corruption of elections and that it's all Republican fearmongering.

Really? We live in Chicago with him and he expects us to believe Democrats don't try to steal elections? Hell it's been elevated to an art form here!
12.10.2008 9:15am
ruralcounsel (mail):
Gregory Conen:

Seriously? I thought we were done with the paranoia and rumor-mongering after the election.


Are you seriously suggesting that issues of ethics, ethical lapses, and compliance with the law be suspended or overlooked now that the election is over, just so we can put forth some illusion of unity and "all is well"?

In other words, we all just shut our eyes, cover our ears, and turn off our minds because ... because a certain candidate is now President-elect and 52.9% of the voters are happy about it and don't want any one to rock the boat.

I can see it now ... the time between November 4 and Inauguration will henceforth be known as the "Get out of jail Free" period, where elected candidates have immunity from the law, so that we don't have any messy scandals.

After all, what would the neighbors think?
12.10.2008 9:16am
JosephSlater (mail):
Somewhere Bill Clinton is reading this "story" or another one like it and saying "You're turn, Obama".

Of course the story isn't that Blago was peddling a Senate seat. The REAL story is in what ways did Obama LIE. Sure there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that indicates that Obama lied. But if you re-create the timeline and fill the massive gaps in your timeline with wild speculation, then you can come up with an argument that shows that Obama lied.

I think saw this same thing when I watched Oliver Stone's JFK. When faced with complete unknowns, make crap up and present it as real.


Flyerhawk is so exactly right in every way it's worth quoting in its entirety.
12.10.2008 9:24am
flyerhawk:
ShelbyC,

For the same reason that Republicans wanted Al Gore to be President in the 90s. That is extremely weak reasoning.

ruralcounsel,

Who said anything about shutting our eyes and ears? How bout presenting actual evidence rather that fill in the blanks timelines?

Professor Lindgren gives the game away at the end of his post..

"As I've said before, as with Bill Clinton, Barack Obama's words should be read carefully to see what he is saying and not saying."

Yup. It's time to get into hyper-parsing mode where we look for interpretations that fit a preconceived belief.
12.10.2008 9:26am
Dr. Fred in PA:
I'm not a lawyer but I too immediately noticed the "...we did not, I did not..." Clintonian verbage. That's not a good sign. He has swum in the cesspool of Chicago politics for years and the fragrant aroma is beginning to waft across the rest of America. I'm also getting real tired of these assertions of "misspeaking" weeks and months after factual statements are made. Wanna stop ALL of the corruption? Prohibit politicians from stealing money from one group of people and giving it to another and prohibit them from giving any special deals or favors to anyone.
12.10.2008 9:28am
J Richardson:
I disagree with NatSecGuy.

I think that is the story that the Obama team would like you to believe. It would make them not only above the fray but make them look heroic for helping to take down a crooked Chicago politician.

I have no doubts that many in the media will run with that angle in an effort to keep Obama looking, as Joe Biden would put it, clean and articulate. However, Obama has too many ties to the Chicago power structure to not know that Blagojevich is a schmuck. That he would even work with him in the past - not to mention endorse him - is problematic for his image.
12.10.2008 9:32am
alkali (mail):
Two points:

1) It strikes me as possible that the Obama team tipped off Fitzgerald, but it also strikes me as possible that Fitzgerald's team made the Obama team aware of their investigation. That would not necessarily be inappropriate; indeed, it might have been part of the investigation: "If X comes to you asking for Y, please call us." (Practical issues may bear on that as well: I can imagine that it is not feasible for the FBI to tap telephone calls with the office of the president-elect without coordination with the Secret Service, especially where no one in that office is a target of the investigation.)

2) It strikes me as possible that if someone in the transition team other than Obama was made aware of the investigation (e.g., Rahm Emanuel), that person might have gone to Obama and said: "The FBI is investigating the governor regarding corruption issues in connection with the Senate seat; you can't talk to him." Again, that's not illegitimate. In fact, it would strike me as sensible to make sure that the president-elect doesn't turn into a key witness in a corruption case, for lots of reasons other than the personal convenience of the president-elect.
12.10.2008 9:34am
alkali (mail):
3) A third point: I strongly suspect that Obama's reticence regarding what he and his team know about the investigation and their views of the case against the governor may have more to do with not f'ing up the case against the governor -- and not getting in Fitzgerald's way -- than a reluctance to speak on political grounds.
12.10.2008 9:36am
WPZ (mail):
What's missing from most of this analysis is the timing vis-a-vis the context.
The charges of selling the Senate seat, while spectacular, are just a small element of the overall corruption involved here. Going past the headlines, the other charges include some actually more serious corruption, in the usual pay-to-play manner that is so ordinary here in northeastern Illinois that locals hardly raise an eyebrow.
In fact, I am starting to think that Fitzgerald did indeed pull the trigger much earlier than planned or desired. The huge Federal cloud hanging over Blagojevich isn't new, and it didn't start on Election Day 2008.
Blagojevich is but one of the Machine's operatives abroad working for the benefit of the Machine. The fact that he went wrong isn't even exceptional; recall failed US Senator Carol Moseley Braun, who also was "sent", in the Chicago Outfit sense, to Washington.
Blagojevich failed as a Machine person and has been an outcast among his peers for a considerable time now. The fact that the Tribune has been very loudly working against him, leading the way for a Constitutional amendment to permit recall, shows how far off the reservation he's gone.
But the Trib's opposition, worthy of the description "all-out attack", is a clue all by itself.
The Tribune is the organization that made it possible for the Machine to install Obama in the Senate and so on, by taking out his opponent back in 2000 with an Axelrod-style oppo campaign.
The tie here is the protection of Obama. Blagojevich was dangerously close to damaging Obama, and taking him out was high on several people's lists.
This is not to suggest that Fitzgerald would have helped in that regard, but the help he got from within the Machine certainly must have weighed in the decision to go forward with still so much investigating to be done, and so many more Machine people to indict. Arresting Blagojevich so soon must have pained Fitzgerald, but he did it anyway.
A year ago, Chicagoans widely believed that Fitzgerald would be sent packing in January, 2009 if any Democrat won the White House. This does not seem so obvious, now. Still, it is possible to argue that there was exigency in moving against Blagojevich with the possiblity that the Fitzgerald era in Chicago was drawing to a close.
Keep in mind, especially those who don't follow the Machine so closely, that Fitzgerald has put some seriously heavy Machine people behind bars, and is getting close to even bigger targets. The desperation on the Fifth Floor (at City Hall) is palpable. Even Richard Daley himself has been interviewed.
But Blagojevich was doing far worse things than the charges presented here, and the Feds wanted a lot more than just this one guy and his chief of staff.
There is local speculation that Rezko suddenly decided not to talk to reduce his sentence, an event that coincided with the election of Obama, and that with Rezko going silent on the possiblity of either a pardon or to take one for the President. Some also believe that without the help of Rezko, Fitzgerald found a number of other avenues becoming less inviting and so, went with what he had.
Finally, it's clear from the tapes that Blagojevich has gotten unstable, saying such things (which are not extraordinary around Chicago in the least) knowing full well the prosecutor's office was draped all over him like a blanket. I believe Fitzgerald acted early in order to prevent even more eccentric behavior.
I urge anyone looking for background on this to look up columnist John Kass at chicagotribune.com, who not only accurately foresaw the events of yesterday, but many others as well.
You will learn that this is all a large picture of a large organization, and separating the three Daleys, Blagojevich, Obama, and the others just isn't possible.
12.10.2008 9:37am
jeanneb (mail):
The nub of the issue is this: Had Obama wanted to be perfectly clear in his statement, he had that opportunity yesterday. He didn't do it. Instead he gave us a textbook example of the "non-denial denial".

His statement is narrow where broad would have been better...and broad where we would have liked narrow.
He said:

"I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening."


Not clear at all.
—-[Narrow] I had no contact..." Well, what about everyone else on his team?
—-[Narrow...after interesting correction] I was not aware..."? Again, was anyone on your team?
—-[Broad] What is Obama referring to when he says "...what was happening"? Unaware of Blago's corrupt schemes? Or the federal investigation/wiretaps? Or his he merely saying he was unaware that the Feds were going to move in on Tuesday?

These were not casual words. They were carefully scripted by the best professional wordsmiths. Why were these words chosen?


JeanneB
12.10.2008 9:40am
pintler:
Can you be an honest politician in a corrupt city? I think there is evidence you can. The biographies I have read of Truman seem to conclude he was personally honest, even though he was aware that the Pendergast machine was corrupt.

There's a book called 'On the Take' by Chambliss that details corruption in Seattle in the 50's and 60's. It says that a young police officer, prosecutor, or politician could expect to be 'tested' to see if they would go along with corruption. If you refused, you might find you weren't on the promotion fast track, but you would be left alone and to some extent shielded from knowledge of what was going on. I'm sure that's an uncomfortable position, but I don't think I'm willing to tar and feather someone who kept their own hands clean even if surrounded by so many crooks it was obvious corruption is afoot.
12.10.2008 9:44am
wfjag:

ShelbyC:
AWT, SamT, you wanna explain again why you think the author wants Biden to be president? Your logic seems a little funny to me.

To bring back to glory days of SNL and late-night comedy routines. Everyone is afraid to lampoon BHO, since any hint of a criticism of him is immediately denounced as "racist." That puts a major crimp in politically oriented comedy. But, Biden is a gaff a minute. He'd be the best thing for politically oriented comedy since Richard Nixon. Imagine Letterman doing "The top ten dumbest things Joe Biden said today", or, an SNL skit on "Biden does history." Even hack comedy writers would be fully employed.
12.10.2008 9:47am
Moonage Webdream (mail) (www):
Well my take on the whole scenario is Blago bit the hand that fed him and that hand slapped back. I don't for one second believe Obama was clueless as to what was happening. He's too much of a control freak over his campaign and image to allow something like this be dealt with exclusively through subs. However, he's smart enough to have someone buffer the contact with Blago. Second, apparently everyone in Illinois knew Blago was under intense legal scrutiny from the AG. My take is that although Blago was wiretapped, someone had to play along with the investigation to get Blago to do what he did. Given the incredible depth of Blago's ego and complete disregard for ethics and law, it would appear to me just about everyone was playing along with the investigaton. The one thing I've noticed from the transcripts I've read, and someone here can make sure I've got this right, is that none of the people on the transcripts actually commit the crime of completing a transaction with Blago. Given the perceived accepted level of corruption in Illinois politics, that kind of amazes me. Is that just a coincidence? They'll look into it, fly flags, a whole host of "ifs", but no one says "I got $250,000 to get'r done." So, I don't think you're going to see this pursued regarding the Obama camp any farther than it has. Rezko's already convicted and I think Axelrod set Blago up. All Obama has to do is not drag himself into it by saying something stupid. Which, he appears to be working very hard to do right now ( not "we", since Axelrod and Rezko are implicated ).

Just my guess is all.
12.10.2008 9:56am
Awesome-O:
I don't like the man, but Obama's a smart guy, and he certainly knows how dirty R-Blag is. You don't make it through the corrupt cesspool of Chicago politics without knowing where the bodies are buried, especially if you're squeaky-clean. If you're not corrupt, you have to know who is so that you can avoid them to the extent possible. From what I can tell, Obama has been doing what he could to distance himself for years. And Obama hasn't shown a willingness to throw allies under the bus until it's absolutely necessary. Recall that he stuck with Wright as long as he could. So I think Obama knew that R-Blag was dirty, and kept his distance. The man's too smart to piss away his presidency before it begins just to reward a governor who doesn't have anything that Obama needs.

Nevertheless, the Obama folks - and possibly Obama himself - are not being completely candid, and they might be lying.

When Axelrod said that Obama had been in contact with R-Blag about the appointment, it surprised absolutely no one. A resigning Democratic senator talks to the Democratic governor of his state about his replacement? As we said in 6th grade, "No shit, Sherlock." Perhaps Obama and R-Blag didn't talk personally about the appointment, but it would be inconceivable that no one from their respective staffs communicated.

So when Obama said: "I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening," I can believe that Obama himself never talked to R-Blag or anyone in his office. I can believe that Axelrod innocently stretched the truth about the communications between the Obama people and the R-Blag people. It would seem a bit disrespectful for Axelrod to say "Obama hasn't talked with the governor, but we have some staffers working on it," even though that's the way it probably went down. If he said that, the response would likely be "is Obama too good to talk to the governor of his state?"

So I conclude that:

(1) Obama knew R-Blag was dirty, and smartly kept his distance from him.
(2) Low- to intermediate-level discussions about Obama's replacement took place;
(3) Those discussions may have included pay-for-play suggestions or offers;
(4) If they did, it appears that Emmanuel may have reported it to the authorities (but maybe not, because the Obama camp seems to have been caught flat-footed by the whole thing); and
(5) Obama never personally talked to R-Blag.

There are three unresolved problems, as I understand it:

(1) I believe that Obama never had any conversations with R-Blag, but surely there were lower-level discussions. Obama needs to reveal all information that his camp knows about those conversations.
(2) There are conflicting statements about Obama's discussions with R-Blag. Again, I I don't think Obama talked with him, but the record needs to be cleared.
(3) Obama's statement yesterday was a pettifoggish mess. The "we... I" correction smacks of "there is no improper relationship."

I think Obama's innocent, but he needs to make a real statement and reveal every conversation between Obama's people and R-Blag's people.
12.10.2008 9:57am
ShelbyC:
flyerhawk:

That is extremely weak reasoning.



Yeah, well I have yet to see any reasoning coming from you.
12.10.2008 9:57am
Good Lt (mail):

I too immediately noticed the "...we did not, I did not..." Clintonian verbage.

I noticed that last night too when listening to the clips on the radio - and it's slimy.

Obama's got a law degree. He's trying to shield himself without trapping himself so that he can claim plausible deniability if something else comes out. I don't think he honestly had a direct hand in this, but many of his former associates and allies certainly did. It seems a stretch that you could spend years swimming in the sewers of Chicago and Illinois politics and claim you had no idea what was going on around you - especially when your chief of staff admits (not "misspeaks") that you talked with the target of a major corruption investigation and there is public reporting that you've done so.

It was blatantly obvious to anyone who lived through the Clinton Administration that Mr. Obama intentionally changed "we" to "I" when he became aware of what he said because he isn't sure who on his staff may have actually talked to the governor about "the deal." If he said "we" and it later turns out that members of his team had in fact talked to Blago in this, he would be in political trouble if not legal trouble (imagine the ads). He isn't sure, and that's the tell.

Pure Clinton.
12.10.2008 10:14am
PC:
I was even more confirmed of this when the several ACORN scandals erupted weeks before the election

Speaking of that conspiracy theory, how did that all work out? Given the hysteria on this blog, over at The Corner, on Fox News, etc. I expected we would be seeing a large number of arrests. Or at least investigations. Has there been...anything?
12.10.2008 10:16am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
I'm a very prosecutor-oriented guy, and I think the "failure to report a felony" statute is utter garbage. I've seen it used by over-zealous prosecutors way too many times solely as a means to pressure witnesses into cooperating, people who have done nothing wrong.

There's a lot of stuff which sounds fishy but which may or may not be a crime. For example, as Eugene pointed out yesterday, it may well not be a crime to swap a Senatorial appointment for a cabinet appointment. If that's the deal that the gov. floated to the transition (and undoubtedly carefully not couched as a deal when speaking directly to the transition folks), then what is supposed to happen? Is the aide who receives the communication supposed to immediately suspend all contact with the governor or his advisors and call the FBI to report the question?

Remember, while Blag. was very direct in his conversations with his advisors, that doesn't mean that any of them were very direct in talking with Obama's people. The conversation probably went something like "I understand Obama wants Jarret appointed? Yep. You know, the governor has sole discretion about who to appoint, and he's even thinking about naming himself. By the way, the governor is interested in Cabinet Slot X. Has the president-elect already got someone in mind for that?"

That shouldn't be a conversation which must be narced to the FBI.

Jim, if you find some evidence that Obama or his aides new of a direct bribe solicitation (not just some fairly standard political quid pro quo) and failed to report it, then you might have something. Right now, your speculation is vastly overreaching and distracting from the seriousness of the case against Blag. himself.
12.10.2008 10:21am
alkali (mail):
@Awesome-O: I think Obama's innocent, but he needs to make a real statement and reveal every conversation between Obama's people and R-Blag's people.

I think blitzing the press with statements about the Blagojevich case is a good way to compromise the case and perhaps draw an investigation for obstructing justice.

I appreciate there is public interest in hearing what Obama has to say about this, but there is also public interest in not fatally compromising Fitzgerald's ability to bring this case before a jury.
12.10.2008 10:21am
Comintern:
My primary thought on this, is if the Tribune portion is true. You are telling me the affliates of an established newspaper would not have reported the "apparent" abuse of Power?

That would be like asking the Washington post to sit on Watergate.
12.10.2008 10:21am
Raoul Ortega (mail):
Can you be an honest politician in a corrupt city? ... If you refused, you might find you weren't on the promotion fast track

Except that doesn't explain how someone can the almost effortless rise from "Community Organizer" to President in a decade. Our Beloved President-Elect may not be personally dirty, but He knows exactly what was going on and what was being done for Him.
12.10.2008 10:22am
MLS:
Even if Mr. Obama is engaged in obfuscation the parsing his words with care, I think it relevant that the reported answer from his camp was for the governor to pound sand.

Chicago politics have always been dirty, many times making Huey Long look like a saint. This governor, however, takes it to new lows, deserves if proven to get his sorry behind tossed in jail for a very long time, and will almost certainly be disbarred for life.

I do have to wonder, though, that if he resigns from office will the State of Illinois merely be replacing one crooked politician with another?
12.10.2008 10:23am
Awesome-O:
I think blitzing the press with statements about the Blagojevich case is a good way to compromise the case and perhaps draw an investigation for obstructing justice.

I know that "no comment" is SOP in these sorts of situations, so I can't really blame the O-camp for doing it, but I always find these "don't want to compromise an ongoing investigation" to be pretty weak sauce, especially considering that Obama's initial statement raised more questions than it answered.
12.10.2008 10:36am
Zach:
One interesting question I had regarding the complaint involves count 107 (taking place Nov 12):

107. On November 12, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Advisor B. ROD
BLAGOJEVICH discussed with Advisor B his idea for a 501(c)(4) organization. Advisor
B stated that he likes the idea, but liked the Change to Win option better because, according
to Advisor B, from the President-elect's perspective, there would be fewer "fingerprints" on
the President-elect's involvement with Change to Win because Change to Win already has
an existing stream of revenue and, therefore, "you won't have stories in four years that they
bought you off." ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that he likes the 501(c)(4) idea because he
knows it will be there in two years when he is no longer Governor, whereas Change to Win
might not be.


It's not clear whether advisor B has spoken with the Obama camp and is relaying their position or if this is his own idea. Reading the complaint, it's not clear if Obama had rejected any deal or just one proposal, with negotiations ongoing. Blago certainly behaves as though he's still negotiating with Obama, but it's hard to tell whether that belief is justified.
12.10.2008 10:38am
arthur (mail):
The connection to someone in the Obama camp is clear enough: Blago solicited a bribe, and the Obama people rejected the demand. The case for Obama's personal knowledge is limited to "why would Obama's staff withhold information from him?" If that question has an answer, this post is about absolutely nothing except a stutter where Obama said "we" and corrected himself before the end of the sentence.

So, why would Obama's staff withhold information from him?The answer is obvious: Anyone who knows about a bribery attempt may have to testify about it. One part of senior staff's job is to protect the boss from having to testify about anything, ever. Testifying is unpleasant, and the President has better uses for his time. It is 100% plausible that no one mentioned anything to Obama. Lindgren and the commenters are building castles in the sky.
12.10.2008 10:38am
flyerhawk:
ShelbyC,

Yeah, well I have yet to see any reasoning coming from you.

Ok.

I need to offer actual reasons why the Republicans would want to take down Obama? Really? Do you follow politics at all? Concerns about the next guy don't factor into partisan warfare. You worry about that guy when you've taken down the current guy.
12.10.2008 10:39am
Marty Eisenstadt (mail):
The November 23, 2008 comments from David Axelrod to the Sunday morning political show on WFLD-TV in Chicago showed that after he was asked the question about the Senate appointment he looked left and then down to the left. This is an indication that he's constructing an answer(immediate left) and then drawing from actual memory(down and left) to produce a response.

The misspoke claim is rather weak. I'd like to see Rahm Emmanuel questioned by the press.
12.10.2008 10:39am
Joel Rosenberg (mail) (www):
The reason that the Obama crowd won't acknowledge the obvious, at least for now, is that it doesn't fit with their narrative, which isn't just that Obama wasn't a typical corrupt Chicago politician, or a much-less-dirty-than-usual Chicago politician, but somebody who managed to do a double backflip off the ten-meter board into the cesspool of Chicago politics and emerge without even a whiff of sewage upon him.

Simply offering "appreciation" along with a nod and wink rather than "cash up front" in return for Senate Candidate 1 getting the gig isn't in accord with the story.

Therefore it didn't happen, and -- among other things -- David Axelrod's candid contemporaneous admission on-air brain fart about the discussions had to be made inoperative.
12.10.2008 10:48am
IL Resident (mail):
It's easy for the ignorant to speculate that Rod and Obama talked, but people from Illinois know that Rod and Obama aren't friends. In fact, Rod has had few political friends for years now. Blago has an uncanny ability to piss everyone off.
12.10.2008 10:54am
lonetown (mail):
Awesome-O

How can one be squeaky clean and tip toe through the corruption all around him?


Is this not a massive lapse in ethics?
12.10.2008 10:57am
Elliot123 (mail):
"That's not the Rod Blagojevich I knew."
12.10.2008 10:57am
alkali (mail):
@Awesome-O: I know that "no comment" is SOP in these sorts of situations, so I can't really blame the O-camp for doing it, but I always find these "don't want to compromise an ongoing investigation" to be pretty weak sauce, especially considering that Obama's initial statement raised more questions than it answered.

It's a balancing question. If the response is, "I don't want to comment on whether I killed a man in Reno just to watch him die, because someone got a parking ticket a block away from where the corpse was found, and they haven't paid it yet" yes, that's weak sauce, because (i) the subject of the question is pretty important; (ii) the underlying legal proceeding is trivial; and (iii) the risk that answering the question would compromise the legal proceeding is de minimis.

Here, (i) you have a Republican prosecutor expressly stating "There's nothing to see here" with respect to Obama; (ii) the underlying case, a corruption case against the governor of one of the country's largest states, is a very big deal; and (iii) having the president-elect make public statements about the case could compromise the jury pool (and there may be other impacts I haven't thought of). That's a different analysis.

I suppose someone could make the case that hearing more detail from Obama is so important that it's worth the risk to the corruption case, but I haven't seen that case made.
12.10.2008 10:59am
Awesome-O:
How can one be squeaky clean and tip toe through the corruption all around him?

I'm probably as skeptical as you are that an outsider could shoot to the top of the Chicago political machine (or New Orleans, or New Jersey) while remaining "squeaky clean."
If you look above in this thread, I laid out my reasons for being suspicious. But until we've got something more than unanswered questions prompted primarily by inconsistent (unsworn) statements by Obama and his staff, I'm not going to accuse Obama of anything/
12.10.2008 11:09am
John425:
During the campaign, Obama made it a point to emphasize his "management experience" in managing such a huge campaign staff. For him to now say that he had no involvement with the only man that could appoint a successor to his Senate seat strains credulity.
12.10.2008 11:13am
Zach:
Another reason to believe there was contact with the Obama group is that Blago's negotiating position changes rather abruptly. One day he's thinking he can get a Cabinet post (maybe even Dept of Energy, since that pays best), or an ambassadorship. The next day he's talking about a makework position as SEIU or setting up a charity he can run. Why would you downgrade your ambition that much, that quickly unless you pitched the first deal and it didn't fly?
12.10.2008 11:14am
Volokh Reader:
Jim,

To further strengthen your case, you consider what Fitzgerald said and didn't say about Obama. Fitzgerald limited his comments to what the complaint said and to the present tense. It would have been simply enough for Fitzgerald to say, "We have no evidence that Obama knew anything about Blagojevich's actions." But Fitzgerald didn't say that; instead, he said that "there is no allegation that the president-elect — there's no reference in the complaint to any conversations involving the president-elect, or indicating that the president-elect was aware of it and that's all I can say." Saying that the complaint doesn't contain any allegations that Obama knew what was going on doesn't mean that Obama didn't know what was going on.
12.10.2008 11:20am
Brt (mail):
This one is easy. Blagojevich missed the final 20 minutes of "Good Fellas" and El Presidente-Elect was riveted. Probably rented it a dozen times.
12.10.2008 11:21am
Sarcastro (www):
The lack of evidence Obama did anything is equaled by the lack of evidence Obama didn't do something.

Stalemate!
12.10.2008 11:22am
MartyA:
Jim, it is because of people like you, people who would do a nit-picky detailed time line analysis of every little thing that it was necessary for Hussein to hide and conceal almost every aspect of his life before Chicago. He didn't want to have to explain his Kenyan birth, his plagiarized undergraduate thesis, his medical records demonstrating HIV and drug abuse or any of the other failings of a young Lord in training.
In future, my bet is that there will be very few unscripted press conferences. The captive media will be nurtured and others will be excluded. Obama is dirty and his Chicago pimps will ensure that he makes no further mistakes.
12.10.2008 11:27am
PLR:
Lindgren's objective here couldn't be more clear: Less Volokh, more Conspiracy!
12.10.2008 11:29am
JK:
It seems like it would make sense to wait for more information to come out before we start tying to map out how Obama might have been involved in this scandal?

My guess is it's just easier to paint some picture using partial facts to make it look like Obama might be involved before the facts are out, I mean it's hard to disprove wild conspiracy theories at this point.

This looks like some argument you'd see from a 9/11 truther.
12.10.2008 11:32am
David Matthews (mail):
Don't know about the possibility of later contacts, but it was clearly reported on Nov. 5, that Obama himself had a scheduled meeting with the Gov. that day, to discuss his replacement:

Link

So there certainly was at least some personal contact with the Governor, unless that meeting was canceled for some reason.
12.10.2008 11:36am
anon345 (mail):
Ok. Kick me out of the G-d D--mned dinner party, but when one of the co-hosts has drank too much and is vomiting on the other guests then it is incumbent on the other hosts of the party to pull that inividual aside and tell him to go home or to his room.
12.10.2008 11:43am
comet (mail):

http://tinyurl.com/5mjxwy
Ill. governor meeting with Obama today

By Carol Sowers
Wednesday, November 05, 2008 at 10:39 a.m.

CHICAGO, ILL. — Now that Barack Obama will be moving to the White House, his seat in the U.S. Senate representing Illinois will have to be filled.

That's one of Obama's first priorities today.

He's meeting with Governor Rod Blagojevich this afternoon in Chicago to discuss it.
12.10.2008 11:46am
Awesome-O:
Ok. Kick me out of the G-d D--mned dinner party, but when one of the co-hosts has drank too much and is vomiting on the other guests then it is incumbent on the other hosts of the party to pull that inividual aside and tell him to go home or to his room.

Do you know how to balance on a bicycle? You might not realize it, but when you are falling to the left, you actually shift your weight in that direction momentarily as you push the handlebars back to the right. All parents should teach their children this when teaching them how to ride.
12.10.2008 11:47am
anon345 (mail):
Sorry, I don't understand what you're talking about, but in honor of H.M. (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/05/us/05hm.html) who died recently, I'll point out that trying to "teach" a child to ride a bicycle in this way would be inefficient since it involves muscle memory and not declarative memory.
12.10.2008 12:00pm
commontheme (mail):
I just can't wait for this election to be over so the petty partisanship can finally stop.
12.10.2008 12:05pm
Awesome-O:
anon345:

Probably a year or more ago, there was a discussion about gun safety, particularly with respect to children. The conversation wandered a bit, as all do, but it remained pretty well-focused on gun safety. Then, for whatever reason, someone parachuted in and posted a 1,500 word explanation of how you balance on a bicycle, and the proper way to teach children how to ride a bike. It was a near-total non sequitor, with the only connection being "children" and some vague notion of "safety." My understanding was that that comment had become legendary around here, because someone took the time to explain how to ride a bike, apropos of nothing.

When I saw the comment about vomiting at a dinner party, I saw it as a non sequitor, which reminded me of the bicycle thing. I figured that long-time readers would recognize it, but I might be out of my mind.
12.10.2008 12:05pm
Ned Ludd (mail):
Isn't all this explained if one assumes one fact: Rahm Israel Emanuel is running everything and is effectively the real President-elect? If so, BHO is mostly a talking head and he was isolated this situation. My guess is that it will come out that Emanuel knew everything and had all the contact with RB and the USA, Fitzpatrick.
12.10.2008 12:08pm
Steve H:
I'm sorry, but what exactly is sleazy, Clintonesque, or otherwise about Obama saying "I" was not aware of what was happening?

Who else can he accurately and authoritatively speak for?
12.10.2008 12:08pm
Steve #2 (mail):
I deal with alot of Illinois government officials here at work and the rumor (from several different sorces) is that Rom Emanuel (spelling?) turned Blago in. Which makes sense in alot of ways.
12.10.2008 12:08pm
Awesome-O:
Isn't all this explained if one assumes one fact: Rahm Israel Emanuel is running everything and is effectively the real President-elect? If so, BHO is mostly a talking head and he was isolated this situation.

Well, if there is a brilliant mastermind behind Obama making all the real decisions, it ain't Joe Biden.
12.10.2008 12:13pm
anon345 (mail):
Thanks. Yesterday with Lindgren's first insane post about this whole thing trying to tie Ayers, Axelrod, Obama, Blago, the grassy knoll, and SEIU together, I posted a couple comments about the likelihood of Jim being a pig-f****r. Some might have got the LBJ reference and some not, but there was at least one complaint in the thread. Orin, then published a revised comment policy asking everyone to be nice. The central theme of the comment policy is that behavior should be commensurate with a dinner party in the Conspirator's home. Because of Orin's reiteration of the comment party, I did not feel I could uncivilly call Jim, "maybe or maybe not a pig-f****r, Lindgren insane, stupid, idiotic, or retarded, so I chose to post about a host spewing over his guests a a dinner party.

That's the sequitor to my non-sequitor.
12.10.2008 12:22pm
ShelbyC:
@flyerhawk -- good start. Now let's see some reasoning supporting your assertion that the good prof's comment is motivated by said desire.
12.10.2008 12:28pm
Steve H:

@flyerhawk -- good start. Now let's see some reasoning supporting your assertion that the good prof's comment is motivated by said desire.


Oh, please. Professor Lindgren has demonstrated his anti-Democratic and/or anti-Obama hackery so thoroughly over the past few months that the Court can take judicial notice that in just about every political post he makes, Professor Lindgren is desiring to make Democrats/Obama/Liberals look as bad as possible.

Wasn't Professor Lindgren the one who represented that Obama saying "We all love our country" at the Dem Convention was an attack on McCain?
12.10.2008 12:32pm
Nony Mouse:
I imagine, though, that at that Nov. 5th meeting is when Blago and Obama figured out who Senate Candidates 1-5 were and what Obama's preferences were and why. There's no scandal there.
It's when Blago then tries to get something from nominating a preferred candidate that things get shady, and it'd be an easy thing to just tell Obama that Blago doesn't want to play nicely, so get your favorite set up in a different job and, for heaven's sake, don't say anything to the press, 'cause he'll try to twist it. Or even "Hey boss, you know how you were talking about who might take over your old job with a guy being investegated? Repeat after me: 'I don't know what's going on, and I don't want to know what's going on.' ... Thanks. It'd be helpful if you don't make any announcements as to who you want or the status of anything. We'll deal with it."
12.10.2008 12:33pm
KilgoreTrout_XL (mail):
This post is pure conjecture. Let me sum it up for you, professor:

Obama and his staff may have sensed there was something odd, or even illegal, going on with the governor, but they were not willing to draw such a conclusion based on the small amount of knowledge they possessed at the time. You are.
12.10.2008 12:34pm
Guest101:

I'm sorry, but what exactly is sleazy, Clintonesque, or otherwise about Obama saying "I" was not aware of what was happening?

Who else can he accurately and authoritatively speak for?

Shocking, isn't it, that a trained attorney would reflexively guard against making overbroad statements on matters about which he lacks personal knowledge? Obama's correction was straight out of Deposition 101-- don't make speculative statements about what other people might or might not have known, just stick to what you knew-- yet Lindgren tries to paint it as evasive and therefore incriminating. Only in your mind, Jim.
12.10.2008 12:36pm
flyerhawk:
@flyerhawk -- good start. Now let's see some reasoning supporting your assertion that the good prof's comment is motivated by said desire.

Months of generic attacks against Obama now coupled with separate blog entries trying to implicate Obama based on nothing more than speculation on his part.

Perhaps he is bipartisan in his willingness to create a story out of whole cloth but to date he has focused solely on the Democratic President-elect.

None of this is relevant to your claim that Professor Lindgren would have no motivation to engage in a political hatchet because that would simply mean that Biden would become President.
12.10.2008 12:37pm
IB Bill (mail) (www):
I voted Republican and didn't like that Obama was elected; nonetheless, I take (a little) offense that we conservatives would hope Obama committed an impeachable offense just so we can rid of him. Like many of us Republicans, I hope that the best said of Obama turns out to be true, that our worst suspicions are unfounded, and that he governs competently.

As for the matter at issue, we need some more facts about Obama's role, but let's assume the best. My suspicion is he's far too smart to offer a quid pro quo. I also think that Blago may be insane, or have gone insane, somewhere along the lines.
12.10.2008 12:43pm
aerbhsbfgr:

Isn't all this explained if one assumes one fact: Rahm Israel Emanuel is running everything and is effectively the real President-elect? If so, BHO is mostly a talking head and he was isolated this situation.


I think you're on to something here, though your take on this issue may be a little lacking. If I was the President-Elect's Chief of Staff, I would keep this as far away from his desk as possible. I would handle it on my own, without consultation, and chop off heads where needed.

The lighting-quick filing of the criminal indictment, before an appointment could be made and things really got ugly, smacks of the efficiency/ruthlessness of two people: Rahm Emmanuel and Patrick Fitzgerald. It very well could be both.

But we all know that it's ethically mixed for a President-Elect to begin influencing DOJ tactics before they take office. As Mr. Obama has continually stated, "We only have one President."

For almost every blanket rule, however, there is an exception. Blago had to be stopped before he made the appointment, otherwise it would have dealt a fatal blow to the Democratic Party in IL; entangled the President while he was in office, possibly compromising a portion of his first two years in office when he has the opportunity to implement policy; and most importantly, screwed over the people of Illinois.

This is yet another reason why it would be wise for Rahm to end Blago on his own, without explaining his reasoning to his boss. If my reading is correct, this may be a brilliant example of why your first appointment has to be Chief of Staff, and also, why it's wise to pick one who has governing experience and is prepared to make integral decisions before day one.
12.10.2008 12:51pm
David Matthews (mail):
"I imagine, though, that at that Nov. 5th meeting is when Blago and Obama figured out who Senate Candidates 1-5 were and what Obama's preferences were and why. There's no scandal there."

There was no scandal there, but now we have Obama telling the LA Times "I have not discussed the Senate seat with the governor at any time." Sounds pretty unequivocal, and pretty wrong, assuming the Nov. 5 meeting actually took place as scheduled.
12.10.2008 12:51pm
Kazinski:
I think it is to Obama's and his advisors credit that they appeared unwilling participate in Blagojevich's sale of Obama's Senate seat.

However I don't think that is a very high standard. If it turns out the Emanuel and/or Jarrett knew about the bribery solicitation, and did not report it, then they need to go. The standard for a White House Chief of Staff and a senior advisor has to be higher than just not participating in a bribery scheme. When they know of such illegal activity then passive rejection is not enough.

The facts of the case are not out yet, so I am not making any accusations, but if those do turn out to be the facts then they need to go.
12.10.2008 12:59pm
KilgoreTrout_XL (mail):
@ShelbyC:

One need only peruse this site's archives for a few moments to see Lindgren's repeated, and often outlandish, attacks on Obama (his "Obama lacks the experience to be a law school dean, much less president" post admittedly gave me a chuckle, due to its absurdity).

Are you really saying you don't think he's biased? You must not read this site very often.
12.10.2008 1:06pm
Steve H:

However I don't think that is a very high standard. If it turns out the Emanuel and/or Jarrett knew about the bribery solicitation, and did not report it, then they need to go. The standard for a White House Chief of Staff and a senior advisor has to be higher than just not participating in a bribery scheme. When they know of such illegal activity then passive rejection is not enough.


I agree with you, but I imagine that Blago's initial statements would have been a little more subtle than what he said on the tapes. I would imagine that Blago would have suggested that he wanted some "consideration" in return -- and given how endemic horsetrading is to politics, this may or may not be soliciting bribery.

As I understand the law, Blago could have said that he would appoint Obama's favored pick for Senate in exchange for Obama's support on another political issue. I'm sure that kind of stuff happens all the damn time. Blago just couldn't offer to appoint Obama's pick in exchange for personal gain.
12.10.2008 1:10pm
Ben P:
aww come on.

I've been waiting all morning to see James Lindgren's most likely apopoleptic response to the New York Times Editorial this morning criticizing Bush's ruling on the rule on possessing guns in parks.

Don't disappoint me Professor Lindgren.
12.10.2008 1:12pm
PaulaK:
"There was no scandal there, but now we have Obama telling the LA Times "I have not discussed the Senate seat with the governor at any time." Sounds pretty unequivocal, and pretty wrong, assuming the Nov. 5 meeting actually took place as scheduled."

Except the meeting didn't happen. As the Chicago Sun-Times reported on Nov, 6:
"Saying he had no favorite candidate yet, Blagojevich said he has not spoken to Obama about the matter but would give "a ' great deal of weight" to the recommendations the president-elect might make."
12.10.2008 1:27pm
dh (mail):
The timeline doesn't establish that Obama, or his team, had knowledge of bribery. The closest is this:

7. On Thursday, Nov. 13:


ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked Advisor A to call Individual A and have Individual A pitch the idea of the 501(c)(4) to "[President-elect Advisor]." Advisor A said that, "while it's not said this is a play to put in play other things." ROD BLAGOJEVICH responded, "correct." Advisor A asked if this is "because we think there's still some life in [Senate Candidate 1] potentially?" ROD BLAGOJEVICH said, "not so much her, but possibly her. But others."

8. If, as seems likely, Individual A then pitched Blagojevich's corrupt bargain to the "President-elect Advisor" and that advisor is Rahm Emanuel, as has been suggested by others, then Emanuel would then have known of the bribery attempt.

Individual A was told to pitch the idea of the 501(c)(4) without explicitly saying that it was quid pro quo for Jarrett to get the seat. Even if Rahm Emanuel understood that would be expected, this falls far short of evidence that Obama knew anything about an actual bribery. The timeline equally supports this scenario: Jarrett withdraws, Individual A suggests a 501(c)(4) to Emanuel without explicitly tying to it Jarrett, Emanuel says no without telling Obama knowing that Obama wants no truck with Blago.
12.10.2008 1:31pm
Can someone answer this question? (mail):
If Obama or his team were involved, why are there not any wiretapped recordings of him or his staff speaking with Blago?

Can someone please answer this?
12.10.2008 1:31pm
rarango (mail):
Why dont we wait to see how this unfolds? While I certainly have no specific knowledge of evenets, I simply find it incredible that someone on the Gov's team would not let someone on Obama's team know what was going down simply to fireproof Obama. Obama comes out of Chicago politics and the ties, I suspect, run quite deep.
12.10.2008 1:35pm
AF:
The obvious flaw in your logic, Professor Lindgren, is the assumption that Blagojevich communicated his corrupt in a way that constituted a felonious attempted bribe.

Common sense and evidence from the indictment suggest that is not true. One of Blagojevich's advisors is quoted as saying he "wanted our ask to be reasonable and rather than . . . make it look like some selfish grab for a quid pro quo." (par. 99)

There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Blagojevich's illegal intentions, as opposed to his plans with respect to appointing Valerie Jarrett, were ever communicated to Obama or his team.
12.10.2008 1:37pm
A.W. (mail):
one thing that irks me is the phrase, its not the conspiracy it is the cover up. Weirdly some people think that covering up a crime is worse than committing it. wrong. it is just that the cover up is sometimes all we can actually prove, because it was successful enough to obscure the actual conduct involved.
12.10.2008 1:37pm
Can someone answer this question? (mail):
One more: If it was the Obama team that ratted out Blago to the Feds, isn't that a very ethical thing to do - and above and beyond anything they were legally required to do?

How would that count as a strike against Obama?

So Obama's corrupt if he knew (or should have known) and said nothing, and he's corrupt if he knew and his team was responsible for the take-down? Wonderful lose-lose situation here!
12.10.2008 1:39pm
Steve H:

If Obama or his team were involved, why are there not any wiretapped recordings of him or his staff speaking with Blago?

Can someone please answer this?


There could be recordings that the prosecutors chose not to include in the complaint.

Or, there could be unrecorded conversations, such as if Blago met with Obama or Obama's staffers at Obama's offices.
12.10.2008 1:44pm
Awesome-O:
one thing that irks me is the phrase, its not the conspiracy it is the cover up. Weirdly some people think that covering up a crime is worse than committing it.

The cliche accurately describes a frequent occurrence in politics (and regular life), in which the underlying crime or other bad act is survivable, but the attempt to conceal it consists of far worse offenses.

Ultimately it depends on the crime, and depends on what you do to cover it up.

If you murder someone, then lie about it, the cover-up is not nearly as bad as the crime. If you get a beej from an intern, then lie about it under oath, the cover-up is worse than the crime, particularly because there's no underlying crime.

It's way too early to tell if that's what's going to happen here. I'm pretty sure that Obama didn't do anything illegal. I doubt that he did anything unethical. But someone made a false statement: either Axelrod, when he said that Obama talked with R-Blag, or Obama when he said that he didn't. If Obama is lying, that's worse than anything he did in the bribe area, which as far as I can tell is nothing.
12.10.2008 1:46pm
frankly0 (mail):
I'm sure flyerhawk, along with all Obama supporters of high moral principle, is going to call for Obama to investigate and reveal who among his staff spoke to Blago when, and about what. I'm sure flyerhawk will declare now, in advance, that he will be deeply disappointed in Obama should he simply revert to Bush's transparently inadequate response during Plamegate, that "there's and ongoing investigation", and therefore he can do and say nothing about it.

Because, of course, flyerhawk is consistent, and would not expect that what was good for the goose might not be good for the gander.
12.10.2008 1:46pm
PaulaK:
"There could be recordings that the prosecutors chose not to include in the complaint."

Oh Please, the conversation that shows the act in futherence of the conspiracy is not included and the prosecutor spikes his own case. (Or you are saying this secret recording exhonerates the Governor.)
12.10.2008 1:49pm
MQuinn:
What does Obama have to gain from lying during yesterday's interview? If your answer is that he in fact is involved in corruption, that assertion is belied by the near certainty that he was aware of the investigation into Blago's affairs. Any other reason for Obama to lie is probably benign. Combine this with the fact that there is absolutely no evidence that Obama has acted unethically in these affairs, and one is left to believe that this whole fuss is over nothing at all.
12.10.2008 1:50pm
AF:
"There could be recordings that the prosecutors chose not to include in the complaint."

Indeed. There could also be video of Obama personally accepting a briefcase full of unmarked bills from Blagojevich's cousin Drago. You just never know.
12.10.2008 1:53pm
Can someone answer this question? (mail):

"There could be recordings that the prosecutors chose not to include in the complaint."

Aren't these Federal Prosecutors about to lose their jobs in the next couple months?

Why would Bush appointees protect Obama?

If they had the goods on Obama, they would take him down. They must not be very ambitious prosecutors! To just let go a once-in-a-lifetime bust like that!
12.10.2008 1:59pm
CTN (mail):
Jim,

Here's another date to plug into your timeline: According to this report, Obama met with Blagojevich on Wednesday, November 5, 2008, to discuss his replacement, which sort of contradicts his statement, "I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening."
12.10.2008 1:59pm
Rev Dr E Buzz (mail):
I thought we were done with the paranoia and rumor-mongering after the election.


LOL, yeah, when Bush was elected, the nutty conspiracies and NYT exposes on some half-assed CIA woman who posed for Vanity Fair, well, they just stopped dead in their tracks.

I'm surely willing to believe that a Chicago politician like Barry is so totally clean and pristine that he had no idea about someone, the Governor of his state no less, trying to SELL his OWN SEAT. I mean, why would he know anything about it?

And I also believe that the tooth fairy will knit me a set of dentures when I am older.
12.10.2008 2:00pm
frankly0 (mail):

If Obama or his team were involved, why are there not any wiretapped recordings of him or his staff speaking with Blago?

Can someone please answer this?


Here's what Fitzgerald said, according to ABC News:


"I'm not going to speak for what the President elect was aware of," he said. "We make no allegations that he's aware of anything and that's as simply as I can put it."

Later when asked if Obama had been briefed on this case, Fitzgerald again answered, "I'm not going to down anything that's not on the complaint… I have enough trouble speaking for myself, I'm never going to go try to speak in the voice of a President or a President-elect so I simply pointed out that if you look at the complaint there's no allegation that the President-elect, there's no reference in the complaint to any conversations involving the President-elect or indicating that the President --elect was aware of it and that's all I can say."

Were any phone calls to the President-elect or any members of the Obama transition team intercepted?

"You can read the complaint. I'm not going to sit here with a 76 page complaint and parse though it -- that's all we're alleging. And I'm not going to start saying 'did anyone ever talk to anyone?' You can read what we allege in the complaint. It's pretty detailed. Look in the 76 pages. And if you don't see it, it's not there."



Hardly an assertion from Fitzgerald that no phone calls from Obama's staff to Blago or his staff were recorded, is it?
12.10.2008 2:01pm
PaulaK:
"Jim,

Here's another date to plug into your timeline: According to this report, Obama met with Blagojevich on Wednesday, November 5, 2008, to discuss his replacement, which sort of contradicts his statement, "I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.""

I repeat. The meeting didn't happen, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times on No. 6:"Saying he had no favorite candidate yet, Blagojevich said he has not spoken to Obama about the matter ..."
12.10.2008 2:03pm
Shawmut (www):
What a nice distraction for a Bostonian. We just recently had a state senator and a city councilor indicted for corruption. They both began as community organizers.
I guess that's where the action is.
Watching to see how this 'do' in Chicago plays out and how much "PUSH" Jackson still has.
12.10.2008 2:03pm
frankly0 (mail):
PaulaK,

I'm sure you are one of the Obama supporters of high moral principle who will demand that Obama investigate and reveal who among his staff might have spoken to Blag since the election about this matter?

I mean, you will do this, right?
12.10.2008 2:07pm
David Matthews (mail):
PaulaK

The article is dated November 6 (morning -- only -- edition), meaning that the quote from the Governor is at least from November 5, or before.

So the quote could well be from before the meeting.

I'm not sure why Obama would assure one paper that he was meeting with the Governor that very day, and then, somehow, not meet with him at all.

It shouldn't be hard for someone to check back on his actual schedule for that day, should it?
12.10.2008 2:09pm
David Matthews (mail):
Oh, and then there's this article from November 8, stating that the meeting had actually occurred:

Link

"Obama met with Governor Rod Blagojevich earlier this week to discuss it."
12.10.2008 2:21pm
DCP:

I don't think anyone is suggesting that Obama or anyone on his staff would be "corrupt" for

Now, there might be some Blago loyalists, corrupt Chicago Machine operatives and some scattered hard-core Democrats in his base who would hold a grudge against them for "snitching" or biting the hand that fed him, but I think 98% of the public would react favorably to news that Obama and/or his staff acted swiftly to inform and assist the authorities in uncovering such blatant political corruption.
12.10.2008 2:21pm
maggief (mail):
You are forgetting the three weeks, beginning 11/13/08, of wiretaps missing from the complaint.

On or about the same date, Obama resigns his senate seat to ramp up Blago's appointment. Courtesy of the WaPo, Obama distances himself from Blago. Durbin announces he'll call for a meeting with Blago, tossing Duckworth into the ring.

Durbin may be receiving protection in the withholding of the three weeks of wiretaps, though it seems he got nowhere with Blago.

LINK

Durbin said his relationship with the governor has been cordial but not close. Blagojevich waited 12 days to return Durbin's recent phone call requesting a discussion of the Obama vacancy, Durbin said. The two men discussed about 20 possible replacements, Durbin said, and Blagojevich made no hint that he was seeking payments or other favors in making his choice.
12.10.2008 2:22pm
FredT:
David Mathews: I am sure you regularly put full faith in TV stations in Keokuk, Iowa, for meetings reportedly taking place in Chicago. Meetings that only this one station reports about, at the same time offering no details or sources. However, such faith is obviously not well placed.
12.10.2008 2:32pm
Neo (mail) (www):
The gov's web site (see link) show that Obama and the Governor did meet on Nov 5th and discuss the replacement.
12.10.2008 2:33pm
David Matthews (mail):
FredT, I assume that the Governor's own website is equally as unreliable.
12.10.2008 2:39pm
CTN (mail):
According to Governor Blagojevich's official website , the two did meet:
"Governor Blagojevich Congratulates President-elect Obama and Discusses U.S. Senate Seat"
12.10.2008 2:40pm
David Matthews (mail):
"TV stations in Keokuk, Iowa, for meetings reportedly taking place in Chicago."

Because, after all there are no phones or internet in Keokuk, and they need to wait for the Pony Express to find out what's happening in Chicago.
12.10.2008 2:41pm
David Matthews (mail):
Sorry, the Governor's press release does not say that he actually met with Obama.
12.10.2008 2:43pm
FredT:
The Governors website does NOT say they met and discussed the Senate seat.
12.10.2008 2:46pm
Neo (mail) (www):
"discuss" and "I had no contact with the governor or his office" do still seem to be at odds
12.10.2008 3:00pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
I just can't wait for this election to be over so the petty partisanship can finally stop.

commontheme,

Is a distaste for being lied to a partisan phenomenon?
12.10.2008 3:01pm
Rev Dr E Buzz (mail):
After congratulating President-Elect Barack Obama on his decisive victory, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that he will take his time and use a diverse senior staff made up of key members of his administration who will assist him in selecting a suitable replacement for Obama.


Absolutely amazing the blatant propaganda used by the state to lie about what was going on here.

And we're supposed to believe that Obama had no freakin idea what was going on behind the scenes???

Please. He is NOT a Chicago politician?

Just how stupid are his supporters...
12.10.2008 3:03pm
lonetown (mail):
Awesome-O, my point that you eveaded totally was not that he amazingly remained squeeky clean while tiptoeing through the corruption.

It was that you cannot evade your ethical responsibilities at that magnitude and be squeeky clean.

You guys are lawyers, you have heard of ethics? right?


chirp chirp
12.10.2008 3:12pm
SaraM:
Interstingly, the original report from the Iowa station cannot now be accessed. It is "unavailable." Maybe it will reappear.
12.10.2008 3:15pm
TROY:
BO SEEMS TO HAVE PROBLEMS EVERY WHERE HE GOES? THIS MAN IS EVIL AND THIS IS JUST A BEGINNING OF THE MANY SCANDALS WE WILL SEE. HE'S NOT EVEN OFFICALLY THE PRESIDENT AND HE'S ALREADY CAUGHT UP IN A SCANDAL WHERE HIS NAME IS MENTIONED 44 TIMES!!!! THIS IS A NO BRAINER AND NOT A BIG SURPRISE WHEN YOU ARE WILLING TO HONESTLY TAKE A LOOK AT HIS PAST!!!
12.10.2008 3:26pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
I would like to remark that there is a difference between "know" and "be vaguely aware of." If I hear a rumor that a crime is going down and a certain place and time my moral (and perhaps legal) obligations are significantly different than if I actually know it is going to happen (say heard it firsthand from one of the criminals).

I mean if you are Obama do you really want to get personally involved in testifying against Blago? Of course not. Sitting down in a courtroom under oath would not only be a huge distraction from serious issues but also politically very dangerous. Even if you aren't having an affair being forced to answer questions truthfully without evading them is very dangerous for a politician as you might have said something without the carefully controlled language used in public.

So it wouldn't seem too weird if some member of his staff told him just enough so he was aware that something was up but made sure to keep him from actually having any personal knowledge of the situation.
12.10.2008 3:34pm
Guest101:
Troy,

I think I might have been convinced if you'd used six exclamation points instead of only four. And maybe an extra question mark? As it is, I just don't find your argument quite emphatic enough to be persuasive.
12.10.2008 3:39pm
C.J. (mail):
Awwwwwww, everyone's realizing that even Obama is just another politician surrounded by politicians. I could care less what color state he comes from or what color his skin is: he caters, as does most of this country, to a corrupt, unfair system. The dude raised hundreds of millions of dollars, and I'm supposed to believe that every penny was given as a token of support, nothing more, nothing less? When will you all stop denying the human nature element? Obama may be the next Jesus Christ, but you put a ton of cash in front of him and he's going to have to battle demons just like you and I. He's not superman. He's just man.

Don't insult my intelligence. You sheeple need to wake up. This government's a perverted, selfish version of its original self.
12.10.2008 3:52pm
Steve H:

"There could be recordings that the prosecutors chose not to include in the complaint."

Aren't these Federal Prosecutors about to lose their jobs in the next couple months?

Why would Bush appointees protect Obama?

If they had the goods on Obama, they would take him down. They must not be very ambitious prosecutors! To just let go a once-in-a-lifetime bust like that!


As I understood your original question, you were wondering why we don't have tape recordings of conversations between Blago and Obama, if they did indeed meet. I provided two possible reasons.

The fact is, we have no idea what tape recordings exist. Only the prosecutors know.

The criminal complaint was simply a document used to present the basic evidence that Blago and the other guy committed crimes. There would be no reason for the prosecutors to quote conversations with Obama unless those conversations were evidence of a crime.

Maybe the prosecutors would want to put them in to embarrass Obama, maybe they would want to keep them out to avoid embarrassing Obama, maybe they are just doing their jobs without playing political games. None of us is in a position to assess that.

Anyway, Obama said back in June that he wants Fitzgerald to keep his spot, because he is doing good work ferreting out corruption in Illinois state government. So I don't know if Fitzgerald is on the verge of losing his job.


As for those people trying to analogize this to Valerie Plame, nice try, but no. In the Plame case, the very act of disclosing her identity as a CIA agent was a breach of security. So there would be a reason to find out every time an administration official spoke to a reporter about her.

In this case, it is not a crime for Obama or one of his staffers to talk to a governor. So Obama is not under any special duty to find out who talked to Blago or his staff.

I would bet he's making sure he finds out, though.
12.10.2008 3:59pm
Awesome-O:
lonetown:

Awesome-O, my point that you eveaded totally was not that he amazingly remained squeeky clean while tiptoeing through the corruption.

I'm a lawyer, yes, but before anything else I'm a Christian, and calumny is a grave sin. I'm not going to accuse Obama of an ethical violation until I have some evidence of one, no matter how many of his friends are corrupt.

I do think it's difficult to immerse yourself in a thoroughly corrupt political climate and remain pure as the driven snow. I wouldn't advise anyone to try. But I don't yet see any evidence of ethical lapses on Obama's part. If you do, I'm sure the Illinois State Bar would be delighted to hear from you.
12.10.2008 4:09pm
pete (mail) (www):

Troy,

I think I might have been convinced if you'd used six exclamation points instead of only four. And maybe an extra question mark? As it is, I just don't find your argument quite emphatic enough to be persuasive.


I am unconvinced by Troy because he did not bold or italicize any of his words. Mere capitalization is not enough to convince me. Preferably the words should be capitalized, bolded, italicized and with a few emoticons added in if you want me to take you seriously.
12.10.2008 4:23pm
lonetown (mail):
Awesome-O,

None are so blind as he who will not see.

(is that religious crap allowed here?)
12.10.2008 5:29pm
FredT:
David Matthews, Further to our discussion about the usefullness of the Iowa TV stion story,

KHQA Clarification:

KHQA TV wishes to offer clarification regarding a story that appeared last month on our website ConnectTristates.com. The story, which discussed the appointment of a replacement for President Elect Obama'in the U.S. Senate, became the subject of much discussion on talk radio and on blog sites Wednesday.

The story housed in our website archive was on the morning of November 5, 2008. It suggested that a meeting was scheduled later that day between President Elect Obama and Illinois Governor Blagojevich. KHQA has no knowledge that any meeting ever took place. Governor Blagojevich did appear at a news conference in Chicago on that date.


(Emphasis added.)
12.10.2008 6:38pm
LM (mail):
Steve H:

Oh, please. Professor Lindgren has demonstrated his anti-Democratic and/or anti-Obama hackery so thoroughly over the past few months that the Court can take judicial notice that in just about every political post he makes, Professor Lindgren is desiring to make Democrats/Obama/Liberals look as bad as possible.

That's not entirely accurate or fair, though there's some truth to it. His posts grew progressively more anti-Obama over the season, the tipping point seeming to be his disapproval of Obama's volunteer corps program. But though by the election he was clearly posting as an anti-Obama partisan, he also contributed quite a bit of useful pro-Obama commentary along the way (e.g., his personal observations about Obama's intelligence, his writing ability and his objective qualifications for professorship at an elite law school.)
12.10.2008 7:01pm
John Hogue (mail):
I'm inclined to say that Obama was well aware that the Governor was courting someone and that the likelihood that bribery was at issue was high. Of course, the courting may have been of others and not of him or his associates. Or maybe he actually got an offer.

In either case, the longer he knows without divulging his suspicions, the less of a leader he becomes.

He acts awfully guilty of not telling everything he knows. Only a fool would believe that he found out about this after the guy was arrested.
12.10.2008 7:34pm
ReaderY:
Does the statute criminalize prosecutorial discretion?
12.10.2008 9:33pm
Yanni.Znaio (mail) (www):
In the Plame case, the very act of disclosing her identity as a CIA agent was a breach of security.

Look at the actual facts surrounding Plame:

Plame was blown before 1997 when she was reassigned to Washington and a desk (this fact makes anyone's "outing" of her not a crime under the applicable statute due to the five-year limitation).

It was suspected, but not proven that Aldrich Ames supplied her name to the Russians, but the other instance falls right at the foot of the CIA:

from an Andrew McCarthy article in National Review discussing an amicus brief from the media in the Judith Miller case:

The press informs the judges that the CIA itself "inadvertently" compromised Plame by not taking appropriate measures to safeguard classified documents that the Agency routed to the Swiss embassy in Havana. In the Washington Times article — you remember, the one the press hypes when it reports to the federal court but not when it reports to consumers of its news coverage — Gertz elaborates that "[t]he documents were supposed to be sealed from the Cuban government, but [unidentified U.S.] intelligence officials said the Cubans read the classified material and learned the secrets contained in them."

Once somebody has been blown, you can't unblow them and blow them again.

And I dissected the law in a post on my blog. Didn't qualify as a violation.
12.11.2008 2:23am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Once somebody has been blown, you can't unblow them and blow them again.


Hmm, let's see. Hayden. Appointed by the Bush administration. Said Plame was covert. Fitzgerald. Appointed by the Bush administration. Said Plame was covert.

I think I see your point: Bush appointees can't be trusted.
12.11.2008 2:53am
Ace Tomato (mail):
Obama lied about not meeting with Blagojevich to discuss his replacement. Axelrod did not misspeak. The meeting was reported on in several newspapers in early November:

1) Ill. governor meeting with Obama today

By Carol Sowers Wednesday, November 05, 2008 at 10:39 a.m.

CHICAGO, ILL. — Now that Barack Obama will be moving to the White House, his seat in the U.S. Senate representing Illinois will have to be filled.

That's one of Obama's first priorities today.

He's meeting with Governor Rod Blagojevich this afternoon in Chicago to discuss it.

Illinois law states that the governor chooses that replacement.

There's already been speculation about his selection...from Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. of Chicago's south side who co-chaired Obama's presidential campaign, to recently-retired state senate president Emil Jones, to the governor himself.

It's likely the governor will make his decision quickly so the new senator will get some seniority before newly-elected senators take office in January.

Part of the timing depends on when Obama officially vacates his senate seat.
KHQA's Alexis Hunt is speaking with Illinois Senator John Sullivan today about his thoughts on that replacement process, his time working with Obama in the state senate, and if there's a chance Sullivan might play a role in the Obama administration. Watch KHQA News at 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. tonight to hear what he has to say.


2) Duckworth comments on consideration for Senate

By Alexis Hunt
Saturday, November 08, 2008 at 9:48 p.m.

QUINCY, IL — Now that Barack Obama will be moving to the White House, his seat in the U.S. Senate representing Illinois will have to be filled.

Obama met with Governor Rod Blagojevich earlier this week to discuss it. Illinois law states that the governor chooses that replacement. There's already been speculation about his selection…from Congressman Jesse Jackson, Junior to Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth.

Duckworth made an appearance in Saturday's Veterans' parade in Quincy. We asked her about the possibility of filling Obama's seat.

"The Governor's office confirmed yesterday that he is considering me and I am deeply honored jus to be considered. I hope whoever is selected is someone who is willing to travel around the state and gets to know this wonderful state. I'm just honored to be considered," Duckworth said.

The governor expects to make his decision before Christmas. Part of the timing depends on when Obama officially vacates his senate seat.

3)

Blagojevich mum on possible successors to Obama
Chicago Tribune (IL) - Friday, October 31, 2008
Author: Rick Pearson and Monique Garcia, TRIBUNE REPORTERS

Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Thursday cited the potential for bad "karma" and avoided discussing potential Senate successors to Barack Obama should the Democratic nominee win the White House, but acknowledged he has a process in mind for making the most important appointment of his career.

"I just don't want to jinx him and I don't like the karma of me thinking that far ahead," Blagojevich said of Obama 's prospects in Tuesday's election. The governor added, "We have had some discussions about a process which we'll share ... if all goes well."
12.11.2008 3:42am
LM (mail):
Ace Tomato,

Your first two examples are both sourced to Alexis Hunt. As explained elsewhere on this site, her story has been updated to say there's no basis to report the meeting took place. As for your third example, where do you see anything about Blago and Obama meeting? (Please don't say "We" refers to Blago and Obama unless you have something more to go on than what you quoted. Otherwise, "We" is at best ambiguous.)
12.11.2008 4:16am
Rhonda Fleming (mail):
More than the probation department needs "fixed!" I have said repeatedly there needs to be a Federal Investigation into the ENTIRE judicial system is Durham. I again, am going on record to protest the corruption to conceal my brother's murder not just being ignored, but deliberately consealed! Saacks, Sheriff Hill, Dr Butts, the FBI, SBI, DPD, and many other officials KNOWS the truth, and here we are nearly 4 years later, STILL being lied to and ignored! WHERE is the outrage?! I am seeking legal help, as the city REFUSES to comply, along with Gov Easley, and am fully prepared to go to the Supreme Court until there is JUSTICE for my family, and other families who still pray for TRUTH!
Rhonda Fleming
Justice4Jack
Justice4All2005@yahoo.com
Sister Of Allen Jackson Croft Jr
106 Carlion Court
Durham, 27713
Murdered May 11, 2005
12.11.2008 4:27am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ace:

The meeting was reported on in several newspapers in early November


Just to add some details to what LM already explained.

Your items 1 and 2 are from the same source, and that source has issued a 'clarification.' This is discussed at length in the other thread. See here.

Your item 3 is dated 10/31, and it says "we have had some discussions." So this is obviously not a reference to a meeting that allegedly took place on 11/5. More importantly, the "we" is totally ambiguous. It could mean Blago had "discussions" with his staff.

Blago held a press conference on 11/5. Audio of that press conference is here. At 4:03 Blago says "I have not spoken to him [Obama]." Which means that Blago's statement in the 10/31 article was not a reference to "discussions" with Obama.
12.11.2008 4:34am