Have you wondered why Fitzgerald abruptly ended his five year
investigation? Normally the "Feds" wait until the drug deal goes down
before they bust the crooks. Think this is a pretty good explanation
which may not be far off the mark. If true, what does this tell us
about our president elect? Fitzgerald? DOJ? Even Bush?
This written by Dan Westerbeck, retired lawyer from Chicago, former
quarterback at Ohio State U, and all around good guy.
Fellow Citizens, Since most of you do not understand the "Chicago way"
of doing things
and come from places that are, relatively speaking, governed by
elections, you may need an interpreter for news from Chicago, especially
about Cook County politics. That's why I'm here.
You may think today's story is about the crooked Illinois governor
selling Obama's Senate seat. What you don't know is how the Bush Justice
Dept. probably steered Obama away from disaster even before taking
office . Here's how the pieces of the puzzle fit, based on the known
facts as well as those alleged in the Criminal Complaint, my knowledge
of federal criminal case management and protocols, and some deductive
As you know by now the beloved Governor of Illinois was arrested for,
among other things, attempting to auction off Obama's US Senate seat.
The federal criminal Complaint (three pages backed up by a 76 page FBI
affidavit) states that Gov. Blagoyovich (Blago) was attempting to set
conditions for filling that seat with the Obama transition team. This
implies a certain level of communication between Blago and Obama or
their staffs, although the Complaint does not specifically state that.
(You'll see why not.) David Axelrod, Obama's chief political stategist
(from Cook County) said two weeks ago that he, Obama, and the Obama
team had been in constant contact with Blago and his staff about filling
the seat and had liked a number of the candidates mentioned. (He
obviously hadn't gotten the word then.)
Today Obama himself denied having anything to do with naming his
successor, denied having any communications with Blago, and generally
felt sorry about everything. Now the press will ignore Axelrod, accept
Obama's statement, shift the spotlight to Blago, and search for the
other conspirators, including who was willing to pay for the Senate
seat. End of story for Obama; just another corrupt Cook County scam
miraculously not involving Obama in any way. Yawn.
But let me tell you what really went down and how the nation just
averted a Constitutional crisis.
Three critical facts must be noted. The Illinois governor appoints
people to vacant US Senate seats. Second, the feds have wiretapped Blago
off and on since 2004 in their "Pay to Play" investigation. You had to
pay him money in order to play--bid for state contracts to manage money,
pave roads, supply linens, etc. (That's the Chicago way.) He is destined
for a federal penitentiary because the tapes have been rolling for 5
years now. A number of his cronies have been indicted and convicted on
the basis of the wiretaps. Third, and most important, Blago's offices
have been bugged by the feds for the past 4-6 weeks, possibly
longer--that's around election time for you senior citizens. (The feds
probably detected sufficient evidence of a criminal conspiracy on the
wiretaps and through informants such that they could plant the bugs in
Obama's handpicked successor for his Senate seat was Valerie Jarrett
who is on his campaign staff. This was well known before the election
and Ms. Jarrett had even announced her candidacy. She was a slam dunk.
The ONLY question on the table after the election was what price Blago
would extract from Obama for appointing Ms. Jarrett--appointing Blago as
ambassador to Lithuainia, naming him Secy. of Transportation, some
Democrat party post, establishing a library and foundation a la Bill
Clinton, whatever. Blago was constantly talking on the tapes of his need
for more cash and how the "fucking Senate seat was wort h a lot of
(per the federal complaint).
The US Attorney here, Patrick Fitzgerald, is fearless and has jailed
Republicans (former Governor Geo. Ryan) and Democrats alike. Some guys
on Richie Daley's staff are doing time for the same thing--taking
bribes (sometimes described as campaign contributions). Ironically Blago
was elected as a reformer and a break from the George Ryan school of
corruption. In any event, Fitzgerald has kept the Justice Dept. fully
informed of all the Blago investigations, wiretaps, bugs, etc., and
where they were headed since he needed their approval (as well as a
court's) to run them. It is a certainty that the Attorney General knew
of the Blago investigation because the target was the governor of a
state (very high profile).
Once Obama was elected Fitzgerald and the Attorney General saw what was
coming--a Blago-Obama negotiation over the Senate seat. Given what they
knew about the corrupt process Blago was engaged in through their
taping/bugging, such a negotiation would be disastrous politically for
Obama and possibly even criminal. Those tapes will have to be played in
court some day. (That may be why Obama looked a little rattled today
in announcing his total absence of knowledge and communication on the
entire subject of his successor.)
After the election Obama and his staff began to get briefings as part of
the transition process. It is likely that the Attorney General informed
him of the ongoing investigations of Blago and of the wiretaps and bugs.
Obama got the clue, but perhaps forgot to tell Axelrod. But he did tell
Valerie Jarrettt something because four weeks ago she withdrew her name
from consideration for the Obama Senate seat.
Normally in a federal conspiracy prosecution you let the tapes roll and
the conspiracy play out in order to catch all the big fish. (I was a
federal prosecutor in my distant past.) Remember, the feds have
wiretapped Blago since 2004, per previous testimony in court. Once you
get one of the conspirators to wire up, as the feds did here, you let
him meet and talk to everybody forever--weeks, months, years even.
However, since they already had the governor nailed, the only bigger
fish left in the pond were Obama and his staff. And listening to Blago
on the tapes they knew where he was headed--right to Obama to get his
price for the Senate seat.
So after the election, as Patrick Fitzgerald and the Attorney General
pondered this, their choice was stark: 1. do we follow the normal
protocol and let the tapes roll and may be reel in Obama staffers (or,
God forbid, Obama himself) bargaining with Blago in the US Senate seat
auction; or, 2. do we tip Obama in a briefing and abruptly terminate the
investigation at the governor's level and thus preclude it from reaching
Obama and his staff.
I think they made a political and legal calculation in the nation's
interest and chose the latter course. They saved Obama, or certainly his
staff, from the taint of the criminal auction and also prevented the
sale of a US Senate seat by a corrupt Cook County Democrat politician by
arresting Blago today.
That's why Obama has been saying for weeks that he himself has nothing
to do with the selection of his successor. Although such a position is
contrary to common sense and political tradition, in this case, he's
probably telling the truth at least insofar as the past month is
So Obama now owes the Justice Dept. and US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald,
in particular, a big one because he kept the president elect from
stepping in to a first rate criminal scandal by tipping him on the Blago
wiretaps and bugs. And the Bush Attorney General and US Attorney
Fitzgerald probably saved the country a huge new scandal as well sinc e
Obama's team would have been further ensnared in a federal criminal
investigation after inauguration.
What job does Patrick Fitzgerald want since Obama owes him big
time--pope, federal judge (even Supreme Court), ambassador to Ireland,
attorney general (Eric Holder may not make it anyway because of the Marc
Rich pardon and Obama would throw him over in a minute if Fitzgerald
asked for it). We shall see, but the Cook County Democrat Machine
certainly wants to be rid of Fitzgerald and the only way to do that is
kill him (that went out with Capone) or promote him. Unfortunately for
them, Fitzgerald professes to like his current job. And there is no way
Obama asks for his resignation now or appoints a new US attorney unless
Fitzpatrick wants to go.
So you see, things are never quite what they seem to be here in
Chi-town. You thought this was all about a lone crooked Cook County
politician who became governor...That's where the press will be headed
because it will be entertaining.
But now you know the likely story of how close we came to having a
federal criminal case swirling around a new president