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OBAMA SAID TO JUDGE HIM BY THE COMPANY HE KEEPS, AND HIS CHICAGO “PALS” ARE CROOKS, LIARS AND EXTORTIONISTS!
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jun. 25, 2010) — On December 9, 2008, Rod Blagojevich, then-governor of Illinois, and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested on what U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald described as “a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy.”
Later that day, Obama stated publicly that he knew nothing about “what was happening” in regard to the charges against Blagojevich and specifically, Blagojevich’s alleged attempts to sell his former Senate seat, saying he “had no contact with the governor or his office” about the matter.
Several weeks before Blagojevich’s arrest and Obama’s statement, Obama senior adviser, David Axelrod, had said something different.
Later on December 9, an aide to the Obama transition team said that Axelrod had originally “misspoken,” and then Axelrod himself changed his story, saying, “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.”
How could both statements have been true? Axelrod reportedly “helped edit” Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope. The same source claims that Axelrod had managed the campaigns of Sen. Chris Dodd, Sen. John Edwards, and Sen. Hillary Clinton.
Axelrod had reportedly run Obama’s U.S. Senate campaign with a “black-and-white” approach:
As he did with Obama’s Senate race, Axelrod focused the 2008 presidential campaign on caucus contests in mostly white states like Iowa, while chief Obama rival Clinton employed the more traditional strategy of focusing on primary states rich in electoral votes.
John Harris, Rod Blagojevich’s former chief of staff, testified this week that he believes Obama knew of Blagojevich’s quid pro quo scheme to obtain a cabinet position in exchange for appointing Valerie Jarrett to Obama’s vacant Senate seat. A recording was played in which Blagojevich allegedly said that he would not appoint anyone to the Senate seat “for free.”
Harris had already pleaded guilty last year on a charge of wire fraud and agreed to cooperate with the federal government in Blagojevich’s trial. He has testified that there was contact between Blagojevich’s office and “the Obama camp,” specifically through Rahm Emanuel.
Late last month, Blagojevich’s lawyers had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to grant a delay of his trial because of an expected ruling from them which might have impacted some of the charges against Blagojevich, but Associate Justice John Paul Stevens had denied the request. When the Supreme Court ruling on “honest services” law was issued yesterday, Blagojevich’s attorneys again asked for a delay, but Judge James Zagel denied their request and continued the trial, as many of the counts against Blagojevich did not involve that particular law.
The players mentioned in today’s testimony as Obama’s recommendations for the Senate seat were reportedly relayed to Blagojevich from Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s current chief of staff who is rumored to be leaving his post within the next few months. Blagojevich wrote a book entitled The Governor in which he contends that Emanuel tried to skirt the law which mandates a special election for a U.S. House seat, asking Blagojevich to hold the seat he was vacating so that he could return and become Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. Lynn Sweet reported last August in The Chicago Sun-Times:
Emanuel, Blagojevich wrote, was trying to figure out a way around the Illinois law where House vacancies are filled through a special election, not an appointment–he brought up his brother, Hollywood superagent Ari.
After chiding him for not acknowledging the help I gave his brother Ari in the past to help one of his clientts bring the sport of Ultimate Fighting to Illinois–an idea, incidently, [sic] that I didn’t like but nevertheless I did try to help him–I told him I would talk to my legal counsel and see if there was a way where this perhaps might work.”
Sweet reported that when White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked at a press briefing about Blagojevich’s claim that Emanuel had asked for a “placeholder” so that “after two years as White House Chief of Staff he could go back and win the seat again and pursue his ambition to become Speaker,” Gibbs answered, “I have not — I barely cover with Rahm what’s going to happen the rest of the week. I have not talked to him about that nor have I — I’ve not seen the book by the indicted former governor of Illinois.”
When Gibbs was asked about Obama’s apparent use of a social security number belonging to a Connecticut man born in 1890, Gibbs changed the subject back to the “birth certificate,” saying, “I put it on the internet.” Gibbs had said he was “amazed” at the question from WorldNetDaily’s Les Kinsolving, but failed to address it.
Valerie Jarrett, who reportedly had been Obama’s first choice for the Senate seat, withdrew her candidacy in December 2008 “after the president-elect told her he preferred that she serve in the White House.”
John Harris, Blagojevich’s former chief of staff, testified on June 24 that subsequent names on Obama’s Senate choice list were Tammy Duckworth, about whom the Honolulu Advertiser had stated that, like Barack Obama, was “born outside the country”; Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, who is an advocate for “universal health care;” Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., and Illinois State Comptroller Dan Hynes. Harris’s testimony indicates that race was a factor in Obama’s selections for his Senate seat and that Emil Jones, the “political godfather” who reportedly had “provided critical support that gave the little-known legislator legitimacy, keeping him from being instantly trampled by the front-runners” in Obama’s bid for the U.S. Senate, was not on the list, even though Jones had wanted “to see a black president before he gets called home.”
While Obama’s December 2008 statement that he had not spoken with Blagojevich about the Senate seat might be true if taken literally, Harris has testified that Obama dispatched two union leaders, Tom Balanoff and Andy Stern, to negotiate with Blagojevich about it. Rahm Emanuel had been in contact with both Blagojevich and John Wyma, a former “fundraiser and close adviser” who had decided to cooperating with investigators.
Another former Blagojevich friend, Lon Monk, has testified that Blagojevich had attempted to make numerous quid pro quos to raise money for his campaign, including threatening to “to kill plans for a $5 billion construction plan if construction firms did not donate to his campaign.” Blagojevich has also been accused of threatening to “withhold substantial state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical of” him.
Like Harris, Monk has agreed to a plea deal in exchange for his testimony.