Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Rahm and Blago and a bribe (Update: A big Obama LIE!)

I'm going to have to rewrite this, because it is possible that Rahm Emmanuel is not Adviser A or B. But he certainly is the fellow referred to as "President-elect Advisor". That does not mean that Rahm is exonerated.

It turns out that Blagojevich may have discussed a bribe with Rahm Emmanuel, Obama's pick for Chief of Staff. You have to read the indictment past paragraph 100 or so.

Keep two things in mind:

1. Rahm currently represents the Fifth Congressional District of Illinois. It appears that Blago can appoint a replacement until a special election is held.

2. Blago became fixated on a wacky scheme in which he would take charge of a well-funded 501(c)4 lobbying organization. This was to be backed by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, acting at Obama's request. The org was to be Blago's nest egg after leaving office.

Blago thought he could make a quid-pro-quo arrangement with Obama: He (Blago) would appoint Obama's preferred candidate, Valerie Jarrett, to the Senate -- and in return, Blago would get that comfy sinecure, a place where he could live well and regain his political muscles.

Does that sound like a bribe to you? Sounds like a bribe to me.
ROD BLAGOJEVICH noted that the President-elect can ask Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and others for money for the organization... Harris [Ney to Blago's Napoleon -- JC] said that funding the 501(c)(4) would be a lot easier for the President-elect than appointing ROD BLAGOJEVICH to a position.
Paragraph 107 states that Blago met with a close Obama adviser -- almost certainly Emmanuel (as we shall see) -- about the 501(c)4 idea.
The advisor asked ROD BLAGOJEVICH if the 501(c)(4) is a real effort or just a vehicle to help ROD BLAGOJEVICH. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that it is a real effort but also a place for ROD BLAGOJEVICH to go when he is no longer Governor. The advisor said he likes the Change to Win idea better, and notes that it is more likely to happen because it is one step removed from the President-elect.
In other words, this adviser liked the idea of a bribe, but he wanted a slightly different bribe, one that would not be traceable to Obama. ("Change to Win" is a union organization close to the Obama campaign, comprised of unions that quit the AFL-CIO.)
...according to Advisor B , from the President-elect's perspective, there would be fewer "fingerprints" on the President-elect's involvement with Change to Win because Change to Win already has an existing stream of revenue and, therefore, "you won't have stories in four years that they bought you off."
Blago preferred the 501(c)(4) idea because he wasn't sure whether Change to Win would stay in business.

How do I know that the person called "President-elect advisor" was Rahm? Here's how.

On November 13, Blago spoke to John Harris (who plays Robin to Blago's Batman). Blago told Harris to call the above-referenced Obama adviser and ask for "10, 15 million" for the 501(c)(4) project. You know, enough to get started.
ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he wanted "[President-elect Advisor] to get the word today," and that when "he asks me for the fifth CD thing I want it to be in his head."
"Fifth CD" refers to the Fifth Congressional District of Illinois. Only one Obama adviser would have an over-riding interest in that district: Rahm Emmanuel. He currently represents that district, and thus has an interest in his successor.

Let this sink in.

Blago was convinced that he could Rahm Emmanuel for a bribe -- a sinecure funded to the tune of $15 million -- before picking the senate candidate Obama wanted. He let it be known that he would also pick the guy Rahm wanted for the congressional seat. Did Rahm act outraged? No. Did Rahm toss Blago out on his ear? No. Instead, there was adiscussion of a counter-bribe on which Obama would have "fewer fingerprints."

UPDATE:
Obama has told an obvious whopper. Today, he said that he never spoke with Blago about the Senate seat. "I had no contact with the governor's office."
But on November 23, 2008, his senior adviser David Axelrod appeared on Fox News Chicago and said something quite different.

While insisting that the President-elect had not expressed a favorite to replace him, and his inclination was to avoid being a "kingmaker," Axelrod said, "I know he's talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them."
Comments:
So he's beyond toast.

He's a post-Toastie.

Sorry, couldn't resist, I'm giddy!!
 
Rahm was setting him up obviously. Not counter bribing anything.

You under estimate Rahm at your own peril. lol
 
Since there's almost no chance that Camp O was unaware of the Blago investigation, and probably knew step by step what the sequence of events was, there's something to be said for the "setup" argument. Why else did Obama do so much to distance himself so far from Blago by totally relinquishing his seat so fast? Why float Valerie Jarrett's name, he had to know she was not really in the mix? Seems to me a case could be made Obie wanted Blago gone, maybe to get his choice in for free? Kind of a "kill two birds with one stone" power grab.
 
How many people are going down over this?

This has the makings to be one of the worst scandals ever.

I had high hopes for Emmanuel. Now I am completely deflated.

Maybe something good will come out of all these messes and the American public will finally wake up and take our government away from the criminals.
 
It was all parodied (and awesome!) in David Mamet's recent B'way hit, "November" - but about a POTUS in the WH. Mamet's a Chicagoan, so we figure he dramatized what he knew. Really, Fitz's descriptions sounded like a precis of Mamet's play.
 
Don't get your hopes up too high. From the comments thread at HillBuzz (http://hillbuzz.wordpress.com/2008/12/09/press-conference-special-prosecutor-patrick-fitzgerald-calls-it-a-political-corruption-crime-spree/#comment-28356):

In Palin We Trust Says:
December 9, 2008 at 2:33 pm
"It is no coincidence that Valerie Jarrett was pulled out of contention before all this went down. TO AVOID IMPLICATING OBAMA!
"Rahm Emanuel is in the mix and was in contact with Blago. Rahm helped bring this down NOW as to avoid getting Obama dragged into it any deeper than he is. I had so much hope for Fitz but looks like he stopped this “sting” operation early, gaining enough to get Blago…but just shy of Obama. THIS IS ALL WE ARE GETTING FOR FITZMAS!!!!!"
 
So far, I see no evidence that Rahm helped bring this down. None. The indictment mentions no help from Rahm. All the info in the indictment stems from wiretaps.

The "Rahm blew the whistle" canard was an insta-myth generated the moment Fox News mentioned that Rahm might have something to do with this affair.

And now that more people have read more deeply in the indictment, we know that Rahm WAS involved. He was brokering a bribery deal with Blago.
 
And I see no evidence that Valerie Jarrett knew that this was going down. Or even that the Obama team had any advance knowledge. That is presumption.

Jarrett's name was pulled from contention because of a complex back-and-forth negotiating strategy with Blago. Even after she was "out," Blago acted as though she still wanted the job.
 
This seems kinda weak. You really have no indication that Advisor B works for the Obama campaign at all (he's listed as a consultant in DC). Your supposed proof that Advisor B is Emmanuel is betrayed in the very text you cite.

On paragraph 112, someone is clearly called [President-elect Advisor]. Why would the indictment have two names for the same person? This seems to be wishful thinking on your part.
 
But it's not an indictment. There has been no Grand Jury proceeding, no arraignment. A sworn complaint and arrests. Don't underestimate Fitz's Jesuit training, the meaning of Limbo.
 
Thanks for all the fun info today, Joseph! I hope you're right!

I wonder if Rahm is that stupid though. Blago's been under investigation for a couple years -- I'd guess anyone who's been involved in Chicago Style politics would have known to keep some distance -- protect themselves and their king.

Nonetheless, I'm going to buy some popcorn tomorrow!

-jen
 
The more I'm reading this, the more I think you've gotten this completely wrong. Advisor B and President-Elect Advisor are two different people who you've conflated in the above post. I'm sure it was just a misread on your part, but surely a correction is warranted?
 
The Feds don't have to indict with a grand jury. They can file a criminal complaint and that process is also loosely, but inaccurately, referred to as an indictment.

http://www.uscourts.gov/journalistguide/district_criminal.html

Blago can insist on an indictment, but my guess is he'll be too busy singing.
 
Rahm, JJ Jr. and more SEIU chieftains than you can shake a PAC at are on the chopping block. Watch out for Balanoff, the Chicago janitor king who was setting Blago up at the $15 million non-profit shop and the SEIU guy who was O's political director to take a fall. But Fitz never got Rove; he won't get O.
 
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