Tuesday, December 09, 2008

BlagoGate Notes: Did Axelrod lie, and is Dick Durbin a fool? 

A couple of quick links for those of you who cannot get enough Blago.

Gum-flapping is bad for everybody:

Asked what contact he'd had with the governor's office about his replacement in the Senate, President-elect Obama today said "I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening."

But on November 23, 2008, his senior adviser David Axelrod appeared on Fox News Chicago and said something quite different.

While insisting that the President-elect had not expressed a favorite to replace him, and his inclination was to avoid being a "kingmaker," Axelrod said, "I know he's talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them."

It appears that either Axelrod lied* on November 23 or Obama did today. I hope that the correct answer is behind Door Number One.

Meanwhile, remaining Illinois Senator Dick Durbin -- yeah, the guy who compared American interrogators at Guantanamo to Nazis, Soviets, and the Khmer Rouge on the basis of essentially no information -- feels the need to aver that he believes that "the overwhelming majority of politicians in Illinois and outside are honest." You know, for whatever that's worth.

I suppose the good news in all of this is that it could distract everybody from bailing out General Motors before it has to file, so there's some possible upside.

UPDATE MANIA: As a commenter points out, Axelrod is saying that he was "mistaken" on November 23 when he said that Obama had spoken with Blago over the Senate seat. Really? Did he just pluck that answer out of his butt? How do you make up a specific fact like that while being interviewed on television? Marc Ambinder, he of the Atlantic, is not (completely) buying it:
Again -- it'd be more unusual if Obama hadn't talked to Blagojevich. Was Axelrod mistaken? Was he referring to a staff-level contact? Did the discussion occur before the election?

These questions have become somewhat burdensome for the Obama staff, especially since the president-elect has long considered Blagojevich to be a clot in the artery of Democratic power. Axelrod, too, has been privately critical of the Illinois governor, a former client. The touchy context for this indictment is the larger circle of Chicago political insiders who Obama befriended on his freeclimb to power. A long trial will expose to the public many unsavory Chicago political traditions -- the same traditions that John McCain haltingly tried to turn into a political issue during the presidential race.

We are forced to wonder whether Mr. Axelrod will forthwith be looking at the bus from underneath.

VIDEO!: Here is a video of Axelrod saying "I know [Obama]'s talked to the governor" on the subject of his successor. Not "I suppose" or "I imagine" or "I suspect" but "I know." How would he make that up? Now, that said, to my ear Axelrod always seems like he is making it up as he goes along, which may mean that he was genuinely "mistaken" but which also suggests that Obama is unwise to let him in front of a camera.
*Whether or not Axelrod or, for that matter, Obama, actually lied, this misstatement certainly fits the "Bush lied, people died" meaning of the word advocated by the left for most of the last eight years. Of course, if we are going to switch back to the standard applied during the Clinton years, neither of them lied. It really is all very Wittgensteinian.


By Blogger Anthony, at Tue Dec 09, 07:28:00 PM:

"... is Dick Durban a fool?"

That's a trick question, right?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Dec 09, 08:22:00 PM:

So far Emanuel is denying ratting them out and it doen't fit the time line if you build it.

The Obama camp is saying Axe 'misspoke'.

Durbin and Emil Jones are proposing a special election, but golly gee, that would take an amendment to the constitution of the state don't you know.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Tue Dec 09, 08:35:00 PM:

There's a lot of that misspeaken goin around in Chicago these days.

For example, Rahm Emanuel apparently also mis spoke when he characterized Obama as intensively involved in Blago's 2002 campaign for Governer.

But if you read contemporary accounts, Obama was one of the four musketeers (with Emanuel, David Axelrod, and Forrest Claypool) who helped to engineer Blago's victory.

From some of Obama's comments at the time he seemed to imply that Blago's support for his US Senate run was a part of the quid pro quo for an Obama 2004 Senate run and that Obama was looking forward to a democratic sweep of higher office in Illinois.

I'm tellin ya, the new president is slicker than slick Willie, and that takes some doin.

But his friends from Chicago will come back to haunt him.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Tue Dec 09, 08:52:00 PM:

Sorry , I forgot to answer the questions.

Durbin is a fool, and

Axelrod lied.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Tue Dec 09, 08:55:00 PM:

Sorry, I forgot to add that Axelod lied...

the second time, when he corrected his statement of the 23rd.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Dec 09, 09:47:00 PM:

Durbin makes fools look normal.
Durbin and Schumer are quintessential losers. Never give a loser power.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Dec 09, 09:57:00 PM:

"Never give a loser power."

No kidding.

George Bush was a failure in private life also, having run every business he touched into the ground.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Dec 09, 11:00:00 PM:


Hmmm. If Bush was such a failure...why haven't you been killed yet in a terrorist attack?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Dec 09, 11:20:00 PM:


Maybe you should ask the 3000 people who died on 9/1 that question.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Tue Dec 09, 11:46:00 PM:


That's the most assinine thing I've read today.


By Blogger Dan Kauffman, at Wed Dec 10, 01:56:00 AM:

""the overwhelming majority of politicians in Illinois and outside are honest." "

Well yes there are a lot of politicians outside of Cook County ;-)  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 10, 06:11:00 AM:

I'm going with one American dollar that Blago winds up dead? Any takers?

Bet is based on 'he knows where the bones are buried', and will squeal. Cook County and Chicago politics are well known as hugely corrupt, and it'll rope in the One. Get ready for the Clintonian times, with the dirty laundry and trail of dead guys.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Wed Dec 10, 08:16:00 AM:

Wouldn't that be a trip? Mired in scandal before he even takes office.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 10, 08:22:00 AM:

Well, if Obama did speak with Blago, the Gov didn't get the "respect" he wanted. From the indictment:

In a conversation with Harris on November 11, the charges state, Blagojevich said he knew that the President-elect wanted Senate Candidate 1 for the open seat but "they're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [Expletive] them."

He also appears to think little of the president-elect, whom he calls a "motherf***er" at one point.

"F**k him," Blagjoveich says of Obama during a lengthy call with top aides and his wife recorded on November 10th, "For nothing? F**k him."

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 10, 09:53:00 AM:

This is the way of our future, contrasting Hussein's lie of today against what he said earlier.
That is the main reason we know so little about him, his past records have been hidden so he wouldn't have to explain himself.
The Chicago guys have the material; they devised the strategy. Maybe an honest media could dig some of the stuff out.
Durbin a fool? A little known fact about Durbin. For the last 14 or 15 years, every year, he jas lost the Senate Doofus award to Joe Biden by an average of less than 2.5 points!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 10, 10:09:00 AM:

"A little known fact about Durbin. For the last 14 or 15 years, every year, he jas lost the Senate Doofus award to Joe Biden by an average of less than 2.5 points!"


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 10, 10:11:00 AM:

Blago sounds delusional in the tape recordings. He also sounds very Nixonian: "Let's bomb Brookings Institute!."  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Wed Dec 10, 11:11:00 AM:

I keep telling you guys. The liberal media were so anxious to elect any body but a Republican that they gave Obama a total pass on his Chicago connections.

There will be a trail of bodies and Holder will be invoking plenty of executive privilege before things are over. After all, Holder wrote the book on executive privilege to protect himself and his work product during the FNLA controversy.

Obama is bent, bent, bent, and so is his AG. Trust me, you can't get elected on the South Side unless you have lost most of your moral compass and sense of smell.

We are moving towards "Thugs in the House", unfortunately the house will be the White House this time around.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 10, 02:16:00 PM:

MSM has focused on the "sale of Senate seat" story in Gov Blags indictment, but is ignoring that much of the charges brought against Blags yesterday involve Tony Rezko. The Senate Seat story is sexier, but it's only a late breaking development in Prosecutor Fitzgerald's work on Chicago corruption. Fitz has already convicted Rezko of corrupting two Illinois state boards, including the Hospital Planning Board ... These charges are now being carried over against Gov Blags. So Rezko is still relevant here.

There's an intriguing footnote in yesterday's filing: "the government is not yet satisfied that Rezko’s accounts are full and complete" ... What a loaded statement. Rezko is holding out on something, but about what ... Don't believe it's not significant because it's in a footnote ... it makes it even more of a red flag.

Rezko's sentencing is now scheduled for January 6. Fitz is likely telling Rezko ... "substantial but not complete" ... isn't good enough: I can convict Gov Blags without you, as I've just shown. I've got the wire tapes. Because you've been holding out on me ... I'll ask the judge to give you the maximum ... You already know that Judge Amy is on my side ... she's a former prosecutor who revoked your bail before trial, on my request ... so you know she will give you the maximum. You have less than a month to give up whatever you're holding back.

Now what can that be?

MSM has failed to report that the court record in the Rezko trial showed that:
at least two unnamed high-level Illinois politicians were involved in Rezko's corrupting two Illinois state boards ... we now know for sure that one was Gov Blags.
only two politicians got campaign contributions sourced from the "pay to play" schemes that Rezko was convicted of ... Gov Blags and Obama. Gov Blags getting these contributions is pointedly mentioned in yesterday's filing.
Earlier this year before his trial, in a self-serving letter to Judge Amy, Rezko named two politicians as Fitz's targets of interest ... Gov Blags and Obama
As State Senator, Obama chaired the oversight committee that oversaw the Hospital Planning Board and wrote the legislation that kept the Board in place, and cut its membership form 15 to 9, which would make it easier to pack. Obama was also in a position to influence who got named to this board. Rezko controlled five members on this Board.

This doesn't mean that Obama is guilty, but he does have an exposure. The story that MSM hasn't reported is that Obama was a target of Fitz investigation, as was Gov Blags. early in the year. Rezko's letter to Judge Amy corroborates this ... Rezko named Gov Blags and Obama in that letter as the focus of Fitz' inquiries.

Whether Obama is still a target is an open question. The press wants to read into Fitz's statements that he isn't ... but that's not what Fitz is saying. He's being careful not to say anything about Obama.

That Obama helped Rezko corrupt the Hospital Planning Board would go a long way to explaining why Rezko helped buy Obama a $2.2 million mansion for $1.4 million.

Is this enough to bring down a President elect? Without more, I think this story dies ... even if Obama "fires" Fitzgerald. So we have a crook in office.

But what else does Fitz have on tape?

I predict an imminent indictment of Allison Davis ... the head of Obama's law firm and Rezko's crony / business partner There's a picture of Davis on Fitz' website as a Rezko trial exhibit, along with one of Chris Kelly, a Gov Blags crony, for seemingly no reason. Coded message?


By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Wed Dec 10, 05:56:00 PM:

Fascinating explanation, Link. Thanks.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Wed Dec 10, 06:01:00 PM:


Well spoken.

Rezko and his wife are well known as Obama's real estate fairies and campaign financiers.

If Tony keeps his mouth shut you can bet that a pardon has already been discussed and agreed with Obama and the Daleys using more discretion than Blago can manage. A nudge is as good as a wink.

If this is not enough to bring down the president elect, it is certainly enough to tarnish the old image. Think of it as a Whitewater on the Little Calumet. The reason why 0 has no comment on all this is that anything he says can and will be used against him. And sordid days are the norm with the Chicago machine in power. How about Valerie Jarrett, Obama's personal choice to replace him in the Senate, presently under investigation for her mismanagement of Chicago Housing Authority property entrusted to her?

There are also eventual connections to Bill Cellini, the combine lobbyist from the Republican side also under indictment, who tried to shake down investors for campaign contributions.

My guess is that Obama won't be able to get rid of Fitz with this stuff pending, as much as he and the Daleys would like this.

To say that Obama hasn't spoken to Blago about his replacement is crazy, someone has tape on that too. Unless of course they decide to loose it, after all this is Illinois. I expect Mr. Holder to take an inordinate interest in these cases if he can get confirmed after the FNLA mess.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Wed Dec 10, 06:38:00 PM:

Sorry, I meant to say FALN, must be my not-so-secret dislexia coming to the fore.

For those who forget this fiasco, FALN is an organization of Puerto Rican terrorists, a number of whom who were granted a pardon in the waning days of the Clinton administration. Holder was the US attorney who advised the Clinton Administration on the pardons, and then asserted executive privilege with Congress to protect his attorney work product.

Is this the guy we want to be our top legal gun in the war on terror?

But on the bright side, Holder has already written a few briefs on executive privilege, which should come in handy if anyone ever wants talk to 0 about his Illinois connections...  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Wed Dec 10, 06:46:00 PM:

By the way, for anyone who is not followign where this is heading, it is looking increasingly that Blago's idiocy will be used to force a special election for 0's vacant seat.

Given the allegations of corruption at the top of the Democratic machine, and the ongoing sentencing and trials, there is a good chance that the Republicans may stand a better than even chance to get this seat.

Needless to say, this would be a severe setback for the national democratic party.

So in this case the cloud may have a silver lining yet.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 10, 07:44:00 PM:

Man oh man, Viking, you way to way too much time on your hands.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 10, 08:04:00 PM:

Holder was the US attorney who advised the Clinton Administration on the pardons, and then asserted executive privilege with Congress to protect his attorney work product.

Viking, the president's power to grant pardons is absolute and unreviewable; neither Congress nor the courts can overturn a president’s decision.

So whether it's George Washington pardoning the men who took part in the Whiskey Rebellion or George H.W. Bush pardoning Casper Weinberger two weeks before he was to stand trial for his role in the sale of missiles to Iran, there ain't nothing any of us can do to undo it. And that's the way the Founding Father's wanted it,  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Thu Dec 11, 01:38:00 PM:


Since you seem to have some background in constitutional law I will refer to you the following:

"Statement of Eric Holder Deputy Attorney General before the Committee on the Judiciary United States Senate concerning Clemency for FALN Members October 20, 1999"


Please check the statement and the circumstances of this case and let me know whether it seems to you that the judiciary committee in fact tried to review the attorney work product produced with regards to the clemency petitions and was stonewalled.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Thu Dec 11, 01:52:00 PM:


To paraphrase Barry Goldwater, "Extremism in the amount of time spent in the defense of liberty is no vice! And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

If others had followed this maxim and done their homework on the president-soon-to-coronated perhaps we would not be looking forward to four years of the Chicago Machine in Washington.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Dec 11, 04:18:00 PM:

Viking writes: Please check the statement and the circumstances of this case and let me know whether it seems to you that the judiciary committee in fact tried to review the attorney work product produced with regards to the clemency petitions and was stonewalled.

Viking, if the constitution provides that a president's pardon power is not reviewable, how can asserting executive privelege be deemed stonewalling? I dare say you won't think President Bush asserting executive privilege in connection with Scotter Libby's pardon constitutes stonewalling.

Stonewalling is asserting executive privilege by refusing to disclose details of VP Cheney's meetings with energy executives. Stonewalling is asserting executive privilege to block a congressional subpeona to have Karl Rove testify. Stonewalling is asserting executive privilege by refusing to release the documents relating to the death of Ranger Pat Tillman.

Perhaps you overlooked it, but Deputy Holder's statement that you suggested I check provides the very basis for asserting executive privilege (as every President does) when it comes to pardons:

"The Committee's request for the documents generated during the deliberations relating to the President's recent grant of clemency presents a particularly compelling legal basis for the assertion of executive privilege. Under the Constitution, the granting of clemency pursuant to the pardon power is unquestionably an exclusive province of the executive branch. Thus, while the Committee has undoubted authority to oversee this Department's discharge of its statutory duties, the Department was not discharging any statutory duty or exercising any statutory authority when it conducted an evaluation of the petition for clemency made on behalf of the Puerto Rican nationalist prisoners. Rather, the Department was providing advice and assistance to the President in the discharge of his exclusive constitutional prerogative. The Department has long declined to share with Congress information concerning the advice and assistance it provides to the President on pardon matters."  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Thu Dec 11, 08:17:00 PM:

I understand the privilege arguments raised in the statement, and this is exactly my point.

Holder is well versed in the arguments and knows how to make them because he has experience from covering butt during the Clinton administration.

The FALN pardons were condemned by resolutions of the Senate 95-2 and 311-41 in the House. These were convicted terrorists who refused to renounce the use of violence even AFTER the pardon. The fact that Jimmy Carter endorsed this should have been enough to question Clinton's work product as not rational.

Quite frankly, I think the presidential pardon power is subject to abuse and has been highly controversial throughout its history. It is a relic of Royal pardons and has no place in our constitutional system of government. And for the record, I believe in tranparency in government. Without it, democracy can not function.

I further think Scooter Libby, and probably Karl Rove and Bush have all violated the law and should be subject to prosecution, with no right to pardon. And as I recall, US v. Nixon established that there is no privilege to protect a criminal conspiracy.

But you can bet that Holder will be blowing the dust off of those files if things in Illinois get any hotter.  

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