White House Spared From Blagojevich Trial
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A collective sigh of relief is undoubtedly resonating from the White House now that testimony in Rod Blagojevich’s trial has concluded, sparing two top Obama Administration officials from traveling to Chicago to testify in the ousted governor’s defense.
Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, and Valerie Jarrett, the president’s longtime friend and adviser, were subpoenaed to testify in the corruption trial and were expected to take the stand sometime next month. Blagojevich also vowed to testify in his defense and was scheduled to do so this week before reneging at the last minute. Today, after six entertaining weeks of profanity-laced Blagojevich wiretaps, the defense rested and closing arguments have been scheduled for Monday.
The famously corrupt politician, for years under federal investigation for selling the influence of his office, lucrative state jobs and contracts, was tried on 24 felony counts of bribery, extortion and conspiracy for attempting to sell Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat. Among the considered candidates were talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and Jarrett, Obama’s longtime confidante.
Obama and Emanuel, a former
Union leader Tom Balanoff, a longtime Obama ally, testified that the president called him personally to push for Jarrett to fill his Senate seat before she opted for a White House job. Harris also testified that Blagojevich asked him to call Emanuel to confirm that Obama was “still in agreement” with Jackson Jr. getting the Senate appointment after Jarrett had pulled out of the running. This clearly indicates that negotiating was taking place between Obama and Blagojevich.
The White House has scrambled to put distance between the president and the monstrous political scandal. Without offering any details, the president has steadfastly denied any involvement in selecting his successor. In fact, when the scandal broke just weeks after Obama won the presidential election, he responded by initiating an “investigation” that he assured would clear his good name.
The president assigned his first White House Counsel, Greg Craig, to conduct the laughable probe that, not surprisingly, fully exonerated him. Craig concluded that Obama, then president-elect had “no contact or communication with Governor Blagojevich or members of his staff about the Senate seat.” Court testimony in Blagojevich’s trial contradicted that assessment repeatedly.
Judicial Watch has been investigating the massive corruption in the Blagojevich Administration for years. In 2006 Blagojevich refused a Judicial Watch public records request for subpoenas relating to the federal investigation of his crooked administration and in 2007 Judicial Watch filed an open records lawsuit in