April 27, 2010
On Sunday, April 25, Firedoglake.com ran a headline story entitled, "The Corruption Scandal That Could Bring Obama Down: Redacted Supoena Portions Reveal Much." After reprinting the unredacted information originally posted on Chicago's NBC affiliate station from the motion submitted by Rod Blagojevich requesting the ability to subpoena Barack Obama in his upcoming June 3 trial, Firedoglake concludes that Obama may not have been clever enough to have avoided being caught in illegal acts. Therefore, "when the GOP retakes the House and reclaims more Senate seats, count on the party to use this as its justification for impeaching and removing Obama." Firedoglake.com clearly underestimates the rapidity with which Obama could be overwhelmed by the accumulating scandals surrounding his presidency, but the posting is a recognition of the danger Obama is now in.
As the trial approaches, one notable point made in the Blagojevich submission, which was not redacted, therefore, has not received media coverage, is the fact that according to an article in Britain's Daily Telegraph by Toby Harnden on December 26, 2008, Obama was interviewed at his Chicago transition office by two U.S. Attorneys and two FBI agents for two hours on the prior Thursday.
The Blagojevich motion notes that on December 19, 2009, the defense filed a discovery motion requesting all notes, transcripts and reports generated from the government's interview of Obama. As of last week the defense has not received any notes, transcripts or reports from President Obama's interview with the government.
Others interviewed by the government were Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett, whom Emanuel had said was Obama's preferred candidate. At the time, Harnden reported that Emanuel was known to have spoken to Blagojevich once or twice, and to his chief of staff John Harris at least four times about the vacant Senate seat. During his impeachment proceedings before the Illinois Senate last year, Blagojevich had failed in his attempt to subpoena both Emanuel and Jarrett. According to the Chicago Tribune at the time the scandal emerged, Emanuel relayed to Blagojevich's team a list of candidates who would be acceptable to the Obama camp, and that these conversations were captured on a tape possessed by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
The question is what did Obama and his associates say in their interviews, and what does Fitzgerald have on tape?
Among other things, does Fitzgerald have a tape of the telephone discussion between Obama and Blagojevich of Dec. 1, 2008. Just one week later — on the day Blagojevich was indicted — Obama told reporters flatly, "I had no contact with the governor or his office, and so we were not — I was not aware of what was happening." Obama was interviewed by the FBI some two weeks later. Did he perjure himself by repeating this claim to the FBI?
Although Obama would like to portray his relationship to Blagojevich as distant, the fact of the matter is that Blagojevich, Emanuel, Rezko and Obama have had a very close relationship. Emanuel ran for the seat in Congress vacated by Blagojevich. Ryan Lizza reported in the New Yorker that Obama received "his first high-level experience in a statewide campaign" while advising Blagojevich during this campaign for Governor. Rahm Emanuel was also a top strategist for that campaign. According Lizza: "Rahm Emanuel ... told me that he, Obama, David Wilhelm, who was Blagojevich's campaign co-chair, and another Blagojevich aide were the top strategists of Blagojevich's victory. He and Obama participated in a small group that met weekly when Rod was running for governor, Emanuel said. 'We basically laid out the general election, Barack and I and these two.' A spokesman for Blagojevich confirmed Emanuel's account, although David Wilhelm, who now works for Obama, said that Emanuel had overstated Obama's role. 'There was an advisory council that was inclusive of Rahm and Barack but not limited to them,' Wilhelm said."