Thursday, December 11, 2008

The long call to Washington

Juicy details are beginning to emerge from the Blago wreckage. This WSJ story describes a 2-hr long call that Blago had with someone in Washington immediately before CNN reported that Valerie Jarrett was pulling her name from contention.
During the call, Mr. Blagojevich and those closest to him allegedly detailed virtually every one of their ideas for turning Mr. Obama’s open Senate seat into something valuable. Specifically, the governor asked “what he can get from the President-elect for the Senate seat,” the FBI alleged, adding later that callers talked about how to “monetize” Mr. Blagojevich’s connections.

Mr. Blagojevich also bemoaned what he called his financial struggles, although his post reportedly pays about $177,000 per year. “The immediate challenge,” the governor allegedly said, “[is] how do we take some of the financial pressure off of our family.”

Callers discussed the possibility of ambassadorships, which are made by the president. They talked about an appointment for Mr. Blagojevich as head of the Department of Health and Human Services, also made by the president. They explored the idea of getting Mr. Obama to use his clout to put the governor’s wife on corporate boards. And they discussed a deal involving the Service Employee International Union, which would be asked to install Mr. Blagojevich over one of its top political groups in exchange for the union getting to tell Mr. Obama that it was delivering the open U.S. Senate seat to his favorite candidate.

That candidate, Mr. Blagojevich believed, was Valerie Jarrett, according to sources familiar with this part of the probe.

There is no inference that Mr. Obama knew about or encouraged any of this alleged scheming, and he has explicitly denied it. But the big question today is this: Were any members of his transition team among the “Washington advisers” on the line during this marathon conference call, or did one of the participants fill them in about these wild ideas?


Scooter said...

I heard some gossip that it was Rahm who alerted Fitzgerald. Have no clue if true but brilliant if true.

Fitz is Pros. for life in Cook County if he wants it.

Stephanie said...

I think Rahm denied that story, unfortunately. I had thought the same thing -- brilliant, and seemed like it could be true. Rahm would have the smarts to know not only to not make a deal but to immediately go to FBI and to NOT tell Obama anything.