Question one: Would it matter if he did know? Question two: Between this and l’affaire Sestak, is there anyone in America at this point who can coherently explain the difference between legal and illegal horse-trading?
John Harris, Blagojevich’s former chief of staff, testified Wednesday in the former governor’s corruption trial that three days after the Nov. 4, 2008, presidential election, the ex-governor told Harris he felt confident Obama knew he wanted to swap perks.
“The president understands that the governor would be willing to make the appointment of Valerie Jarrett as long as he gets what he’s asked for. . . . The governor gets the Cabinet appointment he’s asked for,” Harris said, explaining a recorded call…
Defense lawyers say Harris’ testimony contradicts the government’s previous public statements that Obama knew nothing about deal-making involving the Senate seat appointment.
The defense on Wednesday moved to force the prosecution to turn over FBI reports of Obama’s interview with federal agents in December of 2008.
Obama is not accused of wrongdoing.
Not the first time Team Blago’s claimed contact between them and Obama about the Senate seat. Remember in April when they tried to subpoena him? They alleged at the time that he told them, via a labor-crony intermediary, that he wanted Valerie Jarrett to get the seat; now they’re insisting that he also knew they wanted something in return. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that they’re telling the truth. What law has he broken by keeping his mouth shut about their proposal? Could it be the federal “quid pro quo” statute that’s causing him so many headaches vis-a-vis Sestak? Nope: No one’s claiming that Obama actually offered Blago anything to name Jarrett, so there’s no quid pro quo. In fact, here’s a moment of drama from today’s trial:
Blagojevich became bitter when told that the newly elected president would give him thanks – but nothing else – in return for naming Jarrett to the Senate, according to an FBI tape played Thursday at the former governor’s corruption trial.
With Harris on the stand, prosecutors played an FBI tape on which Harris is heard telling Blagojevich that the Obama camp has sent word that it would be “thankful and appreciative” if Jarrett were appointed to the Senate seat…
“They’re not willing to give me anything but appreciation,” Blagojevich is heard saying glumly on tape. Jurors also heard his voice as he punctuated his remark, “(Expletive) them.”
What about the federal “misprision of felony” statute, which makes it a crime to fail to report a felony of which you have personal knowledge? Nope again: Apparently, it’s only illegal if you help “actively conceal” the crime. Simply knowing about it and keeping your mouth shut doesn’t cut the mustard.
But who cares? The point here isn’t to indict The One, merely to further the meme that the Most Transparent Administration Ever is sufficiently comfortable with backroom deals that they’re not only willing to bribe Joe Sestak, they’re actually willing to look the other way when America’s sleaziest governor tries to extort them in exchange for a Senate appointment. A few more weeks of Blago trial headlines in this vein will help. Subpoena Rahm!
Update: The other point to remember here, which is probably most damning to the White House, is that their own internal review in December 2008 concluded that Emanuel was the only insider who had direct contact with Team Blago. That appears to be technically true but effectively a lie given the allegations that The One himself was relaying messages to them via an intermediary. That’s “transparency” the Chicago way.