Friday, December 26, 2008

The Latest On Blago-Gate

In between posed 'beefcake' shots, the president-elect and his friends have apparently had some 'splainin' to do:

Obama was interviewed on Dec. 18 at his Chicago transition office by two assistant U.S. attorneys and two agents from the FBI looking into alleged attempts by Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois to profit from his appointment of Obama's successor to the Senate. Obama was accompanied by his personal lawyer, Robert Bauer, and an associate, but not by Gregory Craig, who has been designated the new White House counsel, Obama advisers said.

The U.S. attorney in Chicago, Patrick Fitzgerald, who is leading the investigation into Blagojevich, did not attend. The two-hour interview was not recorded or conducted under oath, although one FBI agent and Bauer's associate took copious notes, and it is a felony to lie to federal investigators even without being sworn in.

Notice that this article, from the New York Times- owned International Herald Tribune headlines the story as 'Obama testifies for federal prosecutors' when he did nothing of the sort. He was merely interviewed, and not under oath, something the article doesn't mention until you get to the part I've quoted, well below the fold. It's also interesting that the article spends almost half of page one along the lines of 'every president has had to talk to federal prosecutors at some time or another', and making subjective judgments about how the Chosen One has 'no known exposure' and is merely a witness.

Rahm Emanuel, on the other hand, doesn't come across quite so well. Obama's incoming White House Council Gregory Craig, who authored the fascinating self-generated report that he claims clears Obama of any wrongdoing has made a point of fingering Rahm Emanuel as the only member of Obama's team who had contact with Blago..which means that Obama could be preparing to toss yet another close associate and ally under the proverbial bus.

A lot depends of course, on how thorough Fitzgerald wants to be as a Federal Prosecutor. If,say, Rahm and Blago had a conversation at 11 AM and then Obama and Rahm had a phone conversation at 11:15 AM, you could interview the parties involved and look for discrepancies, especially since the calls with Blago involved were taped. If you really want to get crazy, you can even offer Blago, Emanuel or other people limited immunity in exchange for their testimony, something the Feds do all the time.

The key questions of course are these: since soliciting a bribe is a felony, what did Emanuel and Obama know and when did they know it? and even more interesting, why did Blago risk approaching Obama...unless they'd done similar business before?

Somehow I doubt that Fitzgerald will want to go deep enough to actually implicate Obama in anything. After all, he is the president-elect, and one with a lot of racial and politically charged baggage at that. Obama is simply too big to fail,no matter what.

Emanuel, on the other hand, is a prime candidate for fall guy.

As for Blagojevitch, his attorneys want to subpoena Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett and more than a dozen others, including congressman/'Candidate #5' Jesse Jackson Jr. as the Illinois state legislature begins to make its moves towards impeaching Blagojevitch. That could end up getting extremely interesting.

Especially since Blagojevitch knows where a number of bodies are buried, and doesn't strike me as the kind of guy to observe omerta and not rat out the rest of the crew if he's looking at jail time.

If I were Fitzgerald, I'd definitely be having conversations with Blago about the benefits of immunity right now. That is, if I really wanted to find out what happened in this and a lot of other little matters.

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