“A truly new low,” he calls it, and after eight minutes of dramatic readings you won’t disagree. The absolute lowlight? Blago trying to shake down a children’s hospital for a $50,000 kickback in exchange for $8 million in state funding. Nice guy, lovely family.
Said an FBI agent of Illinois at the presser, “If it isn’t the most corrupt state in the United States, it’s certainly one hell of a competitor.” Indeed: George Ryan, Blagojevich’s predecessor, is also in prison, and only three of the last seven governors have managed to escape indictment. They’re long overdue for a reform candidate, but who could they get? They’d need someone from the area, preferably with a national profile, whose reputation for putting law and order above partisan politics is impeccable. Anyone you know fit the bill?
Update: The good news for The One? There’s no evidence that he or his team did anything improper. The bad news? There’ll have to be some investigating now to make sure. Tapper:
The (allegedly) corrupt Governor was sure that PEBO would NOT participate in Blago’s alleged sale of PEBO’s Senate seat by providing something of worth to Blago in exchange for his naming PEBO’s presumably first choice for the seat, friend and adviser Valerie Jarrett.
How did he know that? With whom on the Obama Team was Blago talking? How was the refusal to “pay or play” conveyed? Did that person then report Blago to the authorities?
And Michael Scherer at Time:
That’s the reason that the fall of Gov. Rod Blagojevich is going to continue to haunt Obama, not to mention Chicago’s Democratic establishment where he built his roots. The President of the United States has a higher burden than just about any elected official anywhere. His staff will be called on by the press to account for all their conversations with Blagojevich and his aides. Obama will have to explain what he knew about these discussions. The bit players in the indictment, like the unnamed Senate Candidate 1 and Senate Candidate 5, will have to come forward and explain their involvement. If the investigation continues into next year, which seems likely, there may even be calls for the appointment of something like an independent counsel at the Justice Department to avoid any hint of political interference. Obama’s staff and political allies may be forced to get attorneys of their own.
Update: Did Rahm pull the plug?
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.
That would jibe with Ben Smith’s theory earlier, that Blago’s attempts to sell the seat to Obama and Valerie Jarrett became far too brazen for comfort.