A longtime TPM Reader weighs in on the Blago verdict …
This verdict should not be a surprise to anyone. For a long time knowledgeable observers in Chicago have looked at the government’s charges and really thought that there was no there there. The fact that the Governor had not benefited at all from any of his alleged machinations played a huge role.
But looking at the case, you really see that Fitzgerald blew it. Essentially these charges were drawn up overnight after the Chicago Tribune called Fitzgerald in his office and told him that they were running a story the next day that the U.S. Attorney’s Office was tapping the Governor’s telephones. Not a single completed crime had occurred.
That same night, probably after being asked to comment by the Tribune’s editors, Blago worked the phones and got his trial strategy in order. The next morning he offered the seat formally to Lisa Madigan, the daughter of his long-time rival Ill. House Speaker Mike Madigan. This allowed him to argue that he had been only thinking about his pick and when he offered the seat, he asked for nothing in exchange.
My dad is an Administrative Law Judge in Chicago and the talk amongst knowledgeable lawyers in the city and around the courthouse was that there were huge problems with the government’s case. The problem was that the national media assumed he was guilty from the first, probably because of Fitzgerald’s presser performance. This led a lot of people to assume that the case was way stronger than it really was.
The other thing is that Sam Adam, Jr. and Sam Adam, Sr. are two of the best lawyers in the Chicago. The father-and-son pair were the only lawyers to get their clients off in the Operation Graylord investigation. They often seem like clowns, but they are big-time pros.