Jesse Jackson Jr. Press Conference

Short version: Jackson uses this as a campaign commercial, he makes a narrow denial about the conversations of his supporters with Blago, makes a categorical statement saying he (personally) hadn’t met with Blago for four years, and he refuses to take questions. 

[Starts by expressing outrage at the pay to play schemes.]

The people of IL deserve better. 

The governor should resign and forfeit his authority to make the appointment. Anyone would be too tainted.

Meanwhile the governor’s fate is in the hand of the justice system.

I want to address rumors about me. I reject and denounce pay to play politics. I did not initiate or authorize anyone at any time to promise anything to Blagojevich on my behalf. I never sent an emissary to make a deal. I thought, mistakenly, that the process was fair. 

I have more seniority than all those–except Luis Gutierrez–considered for the position.

I thought the governor was considering me based on my 13 years of hard work on the part of IL.

I did not know that the process had been corrupted. I did not know that qualifications meant nothing to the governor. I wanted to be considered for the appointment because I believe in public service. That’s what I shared with Blago on Monday, when I had the opportunity to meet with him for the first time in four years.  The media saw me enter his office, the media saw me exit his office. Despite what he may have expected, that’s all I had to offer.

[Thanks all those who have endorsed him for the position.]

Know this. I spoke to the US Attorney’s office on Tuesday. I am not a target of this investigation and I am not accused of any misconduct. In the days ahead, law enforcement officers want to meet to discuss what I know about this process. I look forward to cooperating completely. I retain the advice of James Montgomery Sr. 

On his advice, I will not be taking any questions.

I do want to add one point before I leave. This morning I got text messages from my little sister, who said she was proud of what I’ve done. This morning she told me, Jesse Jr, I’m proud of you.

Next Blagojevich Shoe to Drop: the Deputy Governor

Illinois’ Deputy Governor Bob Greenlee just "resigned."

A spokeswoman for Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich says one of his top aides has resigned.

Spokeswoman Kelley Quinn on Wednesday said Deputy Gov. Bob Greenlee resigned. The reason for his resignation wasn’t immediately clear.

Greenlee’s resignation comes a day after Blagojevich was arrested on federal corruption charges.

Gosh, why do you think someone in Blagojevich’s office resigned today, the day after his boss got busted?

You don’t think it has anything to do with the search the Feds conducted of the Deputy Governor’s office yesterday, do you?

MR. FITZGERALD: It’s at the office of Deputy Governor — a deputy governor. And there’s a search warrant being executed at the Friends of Blagojevich campaign headquarters.

Or maybe it has to do with the large number of times one or another "Deputy Governor" was named in the complaint yesterday, you think? There’s no confirmation which Deputy Governor is which in the complaint, but there are descriptions of a Deputy Governor participating in the Trib stuff and the Senate seat sale and some of the fundraising scams. 

I mean, if I recognized I were the Deputy Governor named all those times in a complaint supporting the arrest of my boss, I might consult a lawyer pretty quickly. In fact, I might want to get chatty pretty quickly. Heck, even if I weren’t that Deputy Governor, I might chatty and get myself as far away from Blago as quickly as I could.

Then again, given the sheer stupidity of Blagojevich as portrayed in yesterday’s complaint, I wouldn’t put him beyond going on a firing spree as he got more and more paranoid about which of his friends had flipped on him. 

Will Having the Name “Jesse Jackson” Associated with Blagojevich…

… further inflame those nutters trying to tie Obama to Blago, or will it give them a favorite lefty dynasty to devour and in so doing stave their hunger for a scandal larger than it is?

Because Jesse Jackson Jr. sure looks like he’s the Candidate 5 whom Blago claimed was trying to bribe him for a half million dollars (h/t Prof Foland and twolf).

Chicago Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., is the anonymous "Senate Candidate No. 5" whose emissaries Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich reportedly offered up to $1 million to name him to the U.S. Senate, federal law enforcement sources tell ABC News.

According to the FBI affidavit in the case, Blagojevich "stated he might be able to cut a deal with Senate Candidate 5 that provided Rod Blagojevich" with something "tangible up front."

Jackson said this morning he was contacted Tuesday by federal prosecutors in Chicago whom he said "asked me to come in and share with them my insights and thoughts about the selection process."

Jackson said, "I don’t know" when asked whether he was Candidate No. 5, but said he was told "I am not a target of this investigation."

Jackson said he agreed to talk with federal investigators "as quickly as possible" after he consulted with a lawyer.

Um, Jesse? After receiving that invitation to come and chat, you were really supposed to call them, not wait for them to call you…

One more point: assuming Jackson is Candidate 5, Blago badly implicated him. But thus far, that’s based on representations from Blago, who is clearly delirious. As always, Jackson (and Blago himself) are assumed to be innocent. Jackson denies that he offereda quid pro quo, and it’s not clear he had the half million to a million that Blago was asking for.

What Fitzgerald Is Hiding in His Blagojevich Complaint

Two days after Fitz indicted Scooter Libby, I did a post showing how details Fitz left unstated in the indictment pointed directly at Dick Cheney.

Tricky Fitzgerald!! He’s been hiding Dick right in the middle of his Libby indictment.

Fifteen months later, the press finally noticed Fitz pointing to the cloud over the Vice President. 

Yesterday’s complaint against Blagojevich has similar silences worthy of note. We know this, partly, because Fitz tells us. He makes it clear that he has not included everything he’s got in this case, generally.

Because this affidavit is submitted for the limited purpose of securing a criminal complaint and corresponding arrest warrants, I have not included each and every fact known to me concerning this investigation.

That is, Fitz has only laid out what he needs to make the case on the two charges described here–the conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud to deprive Illinois of his honest services (this includes attempts to get campaign contributions, favorable coverage from the Trib, and money or a job for the Senate seat), and the attempt to extort the Tribune Company (the firing of editorial staff in exchange for help on Wrigley Field). Note already how this shifts the focus onto recent events–particularly the Trib bribery attempt–and away from his larger investigation into corruption; this allows him to keep much of the latter investigation (which undoubtedly relies on more cooperating witnesses than he has named) hidden for now. Indeed, note how the general corruption investigation generally jumps from evidence from the 2004 timeframe presented at Rezko’s trial to stuff collected from the wiretaps. Fitz doesn’t want to tell us everything about how he got from Rezko to the taps (except insofar as revealing some details of Rezko’s cooperation, which I’ll get to in a later post).

Similarly, Fitz tells us that he hasn’t revealed everything pertaining to Blago’s attempt to sell Obama’s Senate seat.

Set out below are summaries of certain of the conversations referenced above. This affidavit does not include all calls dealing with the corrupt efforts of ROD BLAGOJEVICH, JOHN HARRIS, and others to misuse the power of ROD BLAGOJEVICH to appoint a United States Senator for the personal gain of ROD BLAGOJEVICH and his family, Read more

Axelrod: Obama Wouldn’t Even TALK to that Corrupt Guy

Last month, David Axelrod told reporters that Obama had talked to Blago about his replacement in the Senate.

The transition team just sent out a statement saying that is incorrect.

I was mistaken when I told an interviewer last month that the President-elect has spoken directly to Governor Blagojevich about the Senate vacancy. They did not then or at any time discuss the subject.

I guess the operative phrase there is "spoken directly."

At least that means we won’t hear Obama on tapes introduced at Blago’s trial. 

Rahm Almost Certainly Didn’t Bust Blagojevich

I know I reported the local Chicago Fox reporter’s scoop that Rahm may have turned Blago into Fitz.

CONATY: We did receive a tip this morning that perhaps all of this came together so quickly because the Governor may have reached out to Rahm Emanuel, the president-elect’s chief of staff, in attempting to leverage filling the Senate seat. And it may have been Rahm Emanuel who tipped the scale and made this move as quickly as it did.

Rahm now denies he was the one who tipped off the investigation. But it was already clear from the chronology that Rahm couldn’t have been the one to tip off the entire wiretap.

My question now is whether Rahm’s source’s reference to "overzealous reporting" suggests Rahm was involved at all.

First, as to the chronology, Fitz’s complaint gives a timeline in which Blago’s discussions about the Senate replacement starting on November 3, the day before the election. While it is possible that Fitz is withholding earlier conversations about it (I’ll return to this later), it’s clear that Blago’s thoughts about brokering the seat were still formulating on November 4, when he starting thinking about things he might ask for in exchange for the Senate appointment.

On November 4, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with Deputy Governor A. This was the same day as the United States Presidential election. With respect to the Senate seat, Deputy Governor A suggested putting together a list of things that ROD BLAGOJEVICH would accept in exchange for the Senate seat. ROD BLAGOJEVICH responded that the list “can’t be in writing.” Thereafter, ROD BLAGOJEVICH discussed whether he could obtain an ambassadorship in exchange for the Senate seat. [my emphasis]

In other words, even assuming Fitz isn’t giving us everything, it’s clear that Blago was just beginning to think about brokering the position. 

But we know the first wiretaps went in much earlier than that–on October 22–and that they were based on information that came to light in early October. 

… in early October 2008, the government obtained information that ROD BLAGOJEVICH was accelerating his corrupt fund raising activities to accumulate as much money as possible before the implementation of ethics legislation on January 1, 2009, that would severely curtail ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s ability to raise money from individuals and entities conducting business with the State of Illinois.


On October 21, 2008, Chief Judge James F. Holderman signed an order authorizing the interception of oral communications for a 30-day period in two rooms at the Friends of Blagojevich office: Read more

Did Tribune Employees Tip Zell about the Wiretaps?

In addition to attempting to put Obama’s senate seat on e-bay, Governor Blagojovich has also allegedly been trying to leverage assistance for the sale of the Chicago Cubs for better coverage in the Chicago Tribune.

Sam Zell was trying to stave off putting the Tribune Company in bankruptcy by selling Wrigley Field. Zell wanted the help of the Illinois Finance Authority; Blago attempted to trade that help for more favorable coverage in the Trib.

Fitz’s team apparently picked up this attempt in the taps they placed to track Blago’s other schemes, including the selling of the senate seat. The chronology started on November 3, when Blago was discussing whether or not the Trib will be the one leading the call for impeachment. While listening to a discussion about that, Blago’s wife Patricia suggested that Blago “hold up that fucking Cubs shit. . . fuck them," later saying that Zell could just fire the Trib editorial board. Blago followed up by putting a stack of negative Trib articles together, and suggested that John Harris (the Chief of Staff who was also arrested today) take those articles to Zell and say, “We’ve got some decisions to make now … get rid of those people …. maybe we can’t do this now. Fire those fuckers.”

Two days later, Blago instructed Harris to inform Zell and his team that “everything is lined up, but before we go to the next level we need to have a discussion about what you guys are going to do about that newspaper” (the argument being that to get the IFA help, Blago would have to go around the legislature, precisely the same kind of thing the Trib was calling for impeachment over. Blago spoke specifically in terms of the value of IFA support for the Tribune Company: $100 million. 

On November 11, according to John Harris’s version picked up by the wiretaps, the Tribune Company talked about, “certain corporate reorganizations and budget cuts coming … before the end of the month." Harris took that to mean the Trib would go after anti-Blago editors during the reorganization: "reading between the lines, he’s going after that section." On November 21, Blago and Harris specifically talked about Trib Deputy Editorial Page Editor John McCormick "getting bounced." Read more