Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Fitzgerald gets what he wants; extension granted

We knew this was going to happen when we first heard rumblings that Fitzgerald was going to be asking for an extension on the deadline to present his case to a grand jury for indicting Governor Rod Blagojevic on corruption charges. Fitzgerald has gotten his wish, and the deadline has been extended to 7 April, rather than expiring this coming Wednesday. (Note: The link is to an AP story, and we still maintain the policy of not citing their stories due to their hostility towards blogs using their stories, and threatening to charge them a per-word fee, so I'll just break this down for readers.)

The judge overseeing this case, James F. Holderman, claims that due to the complexity of the case, an indictment coming down at this juncture would be "unreasonable." Neither side argued with the judge,and agreed to his decision. Remember that the number one reason why Fitzgerald moved in on him was over the flak of "selling" Obama's Senate seat; an act that didn't occur, therefore if that's issued during grand jury testimony, Blagojevic's defense team can argue to have that struck from the list of charges because the deal never went down.

There is, however, two particular points that do bear scrutiny. the first was the case where Blagojevic and his chief of staff, John Harris, attempted to pressure the Chicago Tribune to fire editorial writers overly critical of the governor, and calling for his impeachment. That's a fairly serious crime, and directly violates the First Amendment's protection of the press from government interference or intimidation. It's one thing to compel a paper or reporter to release a source during a criminal investigation. It's another to pressure a paper to get rid of the people being critical of the chief executive of a state.

The second issue that many may have forgotten was the "pay-to-play" garbage going on from the governor's office, including the withholding of $8 million to a children's hospital unless a "sizable" donation was given to his campaign. There is also the lucrative contract of roadbuilding that was withheld until donations were made to his campaign coffers, and one individual looking to set up a casino in Illinois that went through the "pay-to-play" shakedown the governor is allegedly notorious for.

Also, the judge will decide whether or not federal prosecutors should hand over redacted transcripts of the court-approved wiretaps to the Illinois House committee working on the impeachment proceedings for Govenor Blagojevic. Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan has made the request, and sometime this afternoon, the judge will rule on that motion.

Now for the meat and potatoes. Does Fitzgerald have the goods on Blagojevic, or is this extension designed to let Fitzgerald keeping digging for the needle in the haystack? Given the fact that this investigation has been going on since 2003, we think he's got him on the latter two allegations, but he has nothing on him regarding the allegation of him "selling" Obama's Senate seat. That is, unless they have Roland Burris tied to paying Blagojevic what he demanded. That remains to be seen, but Senate Majority leader Harry Reid has said that he is planning to refer the Burris appointment to the Senate Rules Committee to make sure he meets the qualifications for the seat, and that there was nothing illegal performed for him to get that seat.

(Nice how Democrats want to make sure everything is above board now, but "Dollar Bill" Jefferson gets to keep his House seat while under federal indictment of accepting bribes, huh? BTW, yes I'm aware Jefferson lost his recent reelection campaign. Enough with the whining; I'm making a point.)

We think that in the end Blagojevic will be impeached by the Illinois House, but spared removal by the Illinois Senate. Blagojevic has a very powerful ally in the Senate named Emil Jones. Expect Senator Jones to step up and defend Blagojevic unless the transcripts are handed over, and something egregious is found in them to warrant his removal. Even if he's not removed, he serves the rest of his term in disgrace (and with low approval numbers; now hovering around 4%), he won't win -- of he chooses to run again -- in 2010. (Now does everyone understand why he was trying to sell the Obama seat for an appointment or a ton of money? Blagojevic knew he wouldn't win reelection in 2010. Gotta have a future somewhere, right?)

But can Fitzgerald take him down? That's the $64,000 question that no one seems to be able to answer, least of all Marcie or myself.Without being privy to what Fitzgerald has, we can only speculate. Our best guess is that he will take him down, but the sentence he'll face will be light, at best, and likely be spent in a federal "country-club" if you will. The sentence will be light, a year or two at most, and he could help that sentence being shaved down if he rolls on others. Remember that Tony Rezko is talking to federal investigators right now in the hopes that with his cooperation he can reduce his own sentence. There is also the rumor that John Harris, Blagojevic's former chief of staff (he resigned on 12 December), might be speaking with federal investigators, as well.

Welcome to Excedrin headache number 173 for Governor Blagojevic.

We know a lot of our friends, contacts, and close associates are hoping that if Fitzgerald can take down Blagojevic that Barack Obama won't be far behind. We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but that is unlikely. The closest this will get to him is possibly forcing Rahm Emanuel's resignation for being a party to Blagojevic's "pay-to-play" side of politics. And even that is a bit of a stretch. The next biggest fish we see possibly taking a hit would be Mayor Daley, but Daley's no dummy. He's been running these scams for quite some time, and learned the game well from his father. But could Emil Jones or Todd Stroger be involved, and be taken down, by the Fitzgerald investigations? Again, doubtful. Fitzgerald seems scope-locked on Blagojevic alone right now. The only question remains as to whether he's got the goods on him to put him in jail. And that, dear readers, seems dubious, at best.

Publius II

Ace at AosHQ links Thanks. Am I an official moron now, or do I have to kill a hobo or something?

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best speculation for the extension request that I've seen is that Fitz could be thinking along the lines of a RICO case, which are devastatingly effective once they get rolling - but very tricky to plead at the onset, what with alleging the particulars of the corrupt enterprise and martialing all the predicate acts.

January 5, 2009 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 01/06/2009 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

January 6, 2009 at 9:19 AM  

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