A massive scandal involving Rod Blagojevich and Barack Obama exploded in December 2008 after the Illinois Democratic governor was arrested, handcuffed and hauled off to jail for allegedly trying to “sell” the vacant U.S. Senate seat once occupied by the then President-elect, among numerous other corruption charges. The criminal complaint indicated that Obama and his team knew about Blagojevich’s efforts to sell Obama’s Senate seat. Not only was Team Obama aware of Blagojevich’s scheme but they participated in illegal negotiations with Blagojevich and his representatives.
The key evidence in the broad corruption investigation (called Operation Board Games) is 45 days of secretly taped conversations during which Blagojevich brazenly (and profanely) described his various efforts to sell favors in exchange for campaign contributions.
According to The Chicago Tribune: “The governor and his chief of staff, John Harris, were simultaneously charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and solicitation to commit bribery as part of what officials say was a wide-ranging scheme to shakedown campaign donors and politicians for high-paying posts and millions of dollars in campaign contributions.”
Judicial Watch worked diligently to get their hands on the 302 notes of Barack Obama’s FBI interview about the attempted sale of his Illinois Senate seat and the FBI is fiercely fighting to keep the notes under wraps.
Shortly after Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election, then-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich attempted to sell Obama’s vacant Senate seat in exchange for political favors. Blagojevich reportedly approached Barack Obama and other intermediaries about the plot, however, Obama declined to make a deal…according to media reports.
Blago eventually approached Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr,’s supporters and offered Obama’s Senate seat in exchange for $1.5 million in ‘campaign donations’ but broke off the deal when he found out the feds were wiretapping him.
Blago ended up taking the fall and landed in prison for 14 years (twice as long as any other politician and gifts and money were actually accepted in those cases where Blago claims none were taken in his case) while Obama skated scrutiny as he entered his first term as US President.
His wife appeals to President Trump for a pardon following a denial by the Supreme Court to hear an appeal:
Via Judicial Watch:
Over the course of two criminal trials in 2010 and 2011, Blagojevich was convicted of 18 separate offenses and, in December 2011, was sentenced to 168 months in jail. In 2015, an appellate court overturned five of Blagojevich’s convictions and affirmed the remainder. On August 12, 2016, Blagojevich was resentenced to the same, 68-month jail term he had received previously.
Judicial Watch had asked the FBI to produce the 302s, pursuant to FOIA, in June 2011. The FBI confirmed the records’ existence in 2012, but denied the request, asserting that the 302s were exempt from disclosure under FOIA Exemption 7(A) because Blagojevich’s criminal case was still ongoing at the time. Judicial Watch filed suit to try to obtain the 302s in May 2016, after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review Blagojevich’s convictions. It closed that initial lawsuit while Blagojevich was being resentenced. Judicial Watch refiled its lawsuit after Blagojevich was resentenced.
As expected, the FBI moved to protect Barack Obama and in 2019 a court ruled the FBI notes from his interview about the attempt to sell his Senate seat should be kept secret. Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton vowed to appeal again and keep fighting for these documents.
“FBI/DOJ going out of their way to protect Obama. Today, a court ruled FBI can keep interview notes of Obama from his Senate seat-selling scandal secret. We will appeal, again,” Fitton said.
“The FBI interviewed Barack Obama about the selling of his Senate seat. The American people should finally get to see these FBI interview reports,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton on June 25th of 2019. “The public has a right to know precisely how Obama and his senior White House advisors Emanuel and Jarrett responded to Blagojevich’s corrupt attempts sell Obama’s Senate seat.”
(In more bad news for Obama, his friend, fundraiser, and real estate partner Antoin “Tony” Rezko’s name is further implicated in the corrupt activities, as his name is all over the criminal complaint.)
Blagojevich corruption was no surprise. Judicial Watch had been all over the Illinois governor’s case for years because of the very issues that led to his arrest. But the breadth and depravity of Blagojevich’s behavior is shocking. I don’t have the space to detail all of the incidents and charges. (For that, you can read the complaint for yourself. I encourage you to read it, as it is a primer on the political corruption all too prevalent in our nation.) But clearly the most disturbing and potentially explosive incident documented by authorities relates to Blagojevich’s appalling attempt to “sell” Obama’s vacant Senate seat. Again, according to the Tribune:
The [arrest] affidavit quoted the governor on a telephone call the day before Obama won his historic presidential victory talking about driving a “hard bargain.” Blagojevich called the Senate seat “a [expletive] valuable thing. You just don’t give it away for nothing.”
“I’ve got this thing and it’s [expletive] golden and uh, uh, I’m not just giving it up for [expletive] nothing,” he said two days later, according to the affidavit.
Among the prizes Blagojevich envisioned were a position in Obama’s Cabinet, an ambassadorship, a $300,000 job with a union-backed group–even a highly paid position for his wife, Patricia.
(Blagojevich is alleged to have said that if he did not get an offer to his liking, that he would appoint himself to the Senate seat.)
Clearly at least one high level advisor to Obama (named “President-Elect Advisor” in the complaint) was approached about striking a deal for the Senate seat. Among other benefits, Blagojevich sought to be named head of a foundation in exchange for naming Obama’s chosen successor. The complaint also references discussions with a leader of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) over a three-way deal involving Obama, SEIU and Blagojevich.
Obama, for his part, publicly denied having any conversations with Blagojevich regarding the Senate seat, but there seems to be some confusion on this point. US News and World Report reported that Obama’s denial appeared to “contradict” remarks by his adviser David Axelrod in an interview last month. Axelrod, a former Blagojevich adviser, conveniently said he “misspoke.”
Obama’s likely intermediary to Blagojevich, (“President-Elect Adviser”) Rahm Emanuel, refused to answer questions about the scandal.
In the midst of the controversy, on December 31, 2008, Blagojevich appointed Roland Burris, a former Illinois Attorney General and the first African American to be elected to statewide office in Illinois, to the vacated Senate seat. Blagojevich stated that, per the Illinois state constitution, he had sole authority to make such an appointment and that it was his duty to ensure Illinois was fully represented in the Senate. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White refused to certify Burris’ selection for the vacant Senate seat.
Senate leaders argued that Senate Rule 2 requires a senator-designate’s credentials to be signed by the state’s governor and secretary of state. On January 6, when the 111th United States Congress opened its session, the Secretary of the United States Senate Nancy Erickson rejected Burris’s credentials because White had not signed the certificate of appointment. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ordered that Burris be turned away from the Senate. The lone Democrat to show support for Burris’ nomination was chair of the United States Senate Committee on Rules and Administration Dianne Feinstein, who recognized the propriety of the appointment based on the statutory authority of the Illinois Governor. On January 7, Burris met with Reid and Durbin, the two ranking Senate leaders who stated their support was conditional upon Burris both obtaining the signature of the Illinois secretary of state and testifying under oath before Illinois House of Representatives committee investigating impeachment. (Wikipedia)
Journalist Amy Jacobson of the Morning Answer am radio show recently divulged in an interview that her co-host Dan Proft (who is an attorney and political insider) told her that the protective order in U.S v Blagojevich was an “agreed order”. In other words. Proft told Jacobson that Blagojevich and the media have for years been lying to us when they told us that we couldn’t hear the FBI wiretap recordings or read the transcripts of conversations between Blago and high level associates of presidential candidate Barrack Obama, because the judge in his case said so. When in fact, it was Blago and his lawyers who did not want the public to hear what was on those tapes.
So the judge in the Blagojevich case did not impose restrictions on Blago. Blago imposed them on himself!
The media for their part gladly played along with this pathetic lie because they understood what was on those tapes would expose how corrupt Obama and his inner circle are. The media knew that the take down of the Illinois governor was a distraction to protect their choice for our next president, Barack Hussein Obama.
Barbara Hollingsworth at the Washington Examiner chronicled the media’s participation in the Blago scandal deception:
They referred me to the protective order—entered into court records on April 19, 2009—that specifically forbade Blagojevich’s defense team from disseminating the transcripts of his recorded conversations, but leaving the government free to do so.”
In Hollingsworth’s report Chicago Tribune reporters John Chase and Jeff Coen were quick to point to the protective order to explain why no one could hear the tapes or read the transcripts of the FBI wiretaps. But never once in all of their reporting or their highly touted book on the subject of Blago did they mention the fact that the protection order was an agreed order.
These are the facts. Blago always could tell us what was captured on those FBI recordings. The protective order gave him cover to say he could not. That’s likely because Blago knew what was on those tapes didn’t prove his innocence. To the contrary, they likely proved his guilt.
But Blago may have also known those tapes proved the guilt of many others in Chicago that were protected by the Deep State. And, he likely tried to use that fact as leverage to get out of the jam the corrupt Department Of Justice and the Obama loving media orchestrated on him to get their guy elected.