Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Blagojevich in Fed Custody

UPDATES below***The Tribune is reporting from a trusted source that Democrat Governor Rod Blagojevich was taken into custody this morning:

The stunning, early morning visit by authorities to the governor's North Side home came amid revelations that federal investigators had recorded the governor with the cooperation of a longtime confidant and had begun to focus on the possibility that the process of choosing a Senate successor to President-elect Barack Obama could be tainted by pay-to-play politics.

Blagojevich was taken into custody hours after the Tribune reported that the investigation into allegations of pay-to-play politics within his administration had been expanded to include his pending choice of a Senate replacement for Obama. The Democratic governor has said he expects to make a decision on the state's next senator in weeks.

AP confirms. I'm tuning in to WLS. They've also arrested John Harris, his chief of staff who used to work for Mayor Daley. Criminal complaint "conspire to defraud the people of Illinois". One of the charges is that Blagojevich tried to have Tribune editorial writers fired. (apparently John Kass in particular. Kass is the best.) [Note: the complaint says it was John McCormick.]

Barack Obama--don't you DARE take Patrick Fitzgerald off the case to clean up this state.

News conference at 11.

UPDATE: Kass is on the air--who wants to stand up with Blagojevich in an orange jumpsuit to get the Senate appointment.

UPDATE: Rich Miller's column today, written pre-arrest, with this point:

Rezko has asked to be sentenced right away rather than continue to negotiate a deal with the feds, which leads many to believe he has gone mum and/or the feds are giving him a rough time about the accuracy of his information.

But if the feds have Wyma, they probably don't need Rezko. At least, that appears to be the message.

UPDATE: According to WLS reading the complaint, Blago is taped as eventually wanting $10-15 million in related benefits from the Senate appointee. AP story. Complaint link here, US attorney's office. WLS playing Jailhouse RockFrom the criminal complaint (page 3), U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald:
"The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering. They allege that Blagojevich put a 'for sale' sign on the naming of a U.S. Senator; involved himself personally in pay to play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism. The citizens of Illinois deserve public officials who act solely in the public's interest without putting a price tag on government appointments, contracts and decisions."
UPDATE: So far no mention of the governor's wife Patti Blagojevich. From my most recent post on her:
First lady Patty Blagojevich, whose mutual friends at Mutual Bank are in the spotlight due to the Obama-Rezko house deal, gets some press today herself. Tribune:
Illinois First Lady Patricia Blagojevich walked away from her successful career as a real estate agent earlier this year amid scrutiny from federal agents probing whether clients hired her to win favor from her husband's administration.

With her commissions plummeting and her most famous client, Antoin "Tony" Rezko, in prison on a corruption conviction, her once-lucrative career all but came to an end.
UPDATE: Who is Senate candidate No. 5, who allegedly offered (to raise) $500,000 in return for the job.

UPDATE: I'm reading through the charges--apparently Blagojevich considered appointing himself to the Senate seat, including the thought that he would have greater resources at his disposal if he were indicted as a sitting Senator rather than as governor--and get this, he wanted to remake his image for a possible run for president in 2016! page 6. And he lobbied the Obama administration for a cabinet post or an appointment as an ambassador--well, after all the Clintons gave Carol Mostly Fraud the ambassadorship in New Zealand, so he wasn't entirely delusional.

UPDATE: Who is Senate candidate No. 1? Discussion of a deal involving the SEIU-er rats. The union official was an emissary for Senate candidate No. 1. page 9 "Change to Win" mentioned. Recently on them, Ambinder. Change to Win backed Obama over Hillary. Senate candidate No. 1 is a woman, who has withdrawn. Valerie Jarrett?! page 9. Currently Obama's senior White House adviser. Sweet from Dec. 1. Ambinder today on the implications. Ben Smith, What the transition knew:

The transition hasn't yet responded to questions about Rod Blagojevich's indictment, but the key question is whether the transition was talking to prosecutors, whether Obama and Valerie Jarrett knew that Blagojevich had offered her the Senate seat in exchange for a labor job, and how she, the transition, or SEIU handled the solicitation of a bribe. (The existence of a transcript suggests that the SEIU official -- Andy Stern, the president, had met with Blagojevich just before the election on the subject, though nobody is identified in the complaint -- was wearing a wire.)

One piece of speculation: Jarrett's abrupt withdrawal from consideration for the Senate seat suggests Obama's circle aware of the investigation.

It is clear from the complaint that Obama refused to offer Blagojevich anything for appointing Jarrett.

"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*** them,'" says the complaint.

UPDATE: Rush says the Obama pardon list is starting already.

UPDATE: Press conference summary by Trib. I watched it--Fitzgerald seemed shaken himself by the amount of corruption, describing it as a "crime spree". Also, Patti Blagojevich is mentioned in the complaint as being part of taped conversations on the disposition of Wrigley, though she has not been charged. There is also a paragraph on Rezko. The 78 page complaint is up on the DOJ site now, next to the press release. Looks like the Illinois legislature will impeach Blago so he can't appoint the Senate replacement, which he can do as long as he is still governor, even in jail.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin picks up on Pattycake Patti:

73. In another call between ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Deputy Governor A that occurred a short time later on November 3, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Deputy Governor A discussed an editorial from the Chicago Tribune regarding the endorsement of Michael Madigan and calling for a committee to consider impeaching ROD BLAGOJEVICH.

During the call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife can be heard in the background telling ROD BLAGOJEVICH to tell Deputy Governor A “to hold up that fucking Cubs shit. . . fuck them.”

I have a Christmas concert this afternoon, then will read the whole thing.

Previous posts: Governor Smells, Governor Taped, Governor Joke, The Hidden Costs of Collective Bargaining, Obama's Pal Whitaker Rezko Appointee, The Chicago Way Comes to Washington, The Return of Rezko, Governor Love Me, Governor Home Run, Governor Emperor, Governor Breakdown, Governor Fearful, Governor Sociopath, Governor No Impact, Governor Gambler, Dems Feud in Illinois.

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