The corruption trial against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) has been chugging along, with the highlight this week being testimony from Blago’s former chief of staff about Rahm Emanuel and President Obama’s Senate seat.
Blagojevich’s former COS, John Harris, testified that Emanuel sent him a list of people Obama would find acceptable to replace him in the Senate, according to news accounts from the Chicago Tribune and Sun. Blago reportedly called the list “B.S.”Blago, as governor, had the power to appoint a replacement. Some of the most explosive charges against him are that he tried to sell Obama’s seat for a lucrative job or other rewards.
Blago’s office was expecting Obama to ask him to appoint his aide, Valerie Jarrett, according to the Tribune. But on Nov. 12, Harris heard from Emanuel, who said Jarrett was taking a job at the White House instead. Emanuel gave him a list of four names that the president had would find acceptable: U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes and Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War vet who now serves in the VA.
In a tape heard by the court, Blago calls the list “B.S.,” the Sun reports.
According to the Tribune, Blago outlined to Harris what they were looking for in an appointee.
He had three priorities, he said in a phone call: “Our legal situation, our personal situation, my political situation.”
By “legal situation,” Harris explained, Blago meant he wanted someone who would help ease the Justice Department’s investigation into Blagojevich’s dealings.
In one tape recorded before they got the list from Emanuel, the Tribune reports, Blago and Harris threw out other names, people they though would benefit Blago in some way.
“Why don’t we start looking for an African-American Tammy Duckworth?” Blago asked. Duckworth had been the state’s former veterans affairs director.
Harris also testified, according to the Sun, that Blago wanted Harris to approach Emil Jones, then president of the state senate, and offer him a deal: Blago would appoint Jones if Jones would turn over his campaign funds to Blago’s campaign. Harris testified that while he approached Jones, he never talked about money.