There’s a strong case that the U.S. Attorney’s office made a weak case against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
That’s the take of attorney Lonna Saunders, writing in the Huffington Post. Saunders, a former WIND radio commentator and legal columnist for Chicago Life, focuses on the fact that the prosecution failed to call Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Rep. Jesse Jackson or convicted political fixer Tony Rezko. Instead, the defense called Emanuel and Jackson, who both said they didn’t know nothin’ about no shakedowns for the U.S. Senate seat.
Emanuel testified that he had no knowledge of any shakedown involving a school getting funds for an athletic field being tied to a possible fundraiser involving his Hollywood agent brother or about any plan to sell President Obama’s senate seat to Valerie Jarrett in exchange for a charitable organization being set up for Blagojevich.
Likewise Rep. Jackson testified that he had no knowledge of any possible fundraiser to be held on his behalf or campaign donations to be made by Indian-American businessmen to buy Obama’s senate seat for him.
By the way, the senate seat was never sold…The “ask” is not enough. There has to be more. Action is needed. Talk is cheap.
Those last two sentences sum up why the prosecution couldn’t convict Blagojevich of conspiring to sell the Senate seat the first time around. The holdout juror saw Blagojevich as a narcissistic, scatterbrained idiot incapable of formulating a criminal plot.
If two of the guys most likely to have benefited from Blagojevich’s alleged seat-peddling insist he never asked them for anything, then what exactly did the governor stand to gain?
Maybe this jury will be unanimous in agreeing that Blagojevich is a criminal, and not just a loudmouth who fantasized about joining the Obama cabinet or running for president in 2016. If not, U.S. Attorney Peter Fitzgerald should give up. He already nailed Blagojevich for lying to the FBI. That means he’s convicted two governors -- a record, even for a U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois. Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier had two re-matches, ending with the Thrilla in Manila, but Fitzgerald-Blago III would be remembered as the Bore on the 25th Floor.
Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!