Inside the Blagojevich Trial
Blago Trial: Oprah For Senate?June 28, 2010 - 1:24 PM | by: Ruth Ravve
Oprah Winfrey a U.S. senator? That’s something former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich considered, as the person he would appoint to replace Barack Obama in the vacant senate seat. A wiretapped phone conversation between Blago and his one-time chief of staff John Harris was played in court, in which the two can be heard considering options. Blago said Winfrey’s popularity could be a big benefit to him, that “she’s a king maker, she made Obama”. Despite Harris saying the suggestion was “crazy”, Blago thought it was “not far fetched”.
Apparently Blago was concerned because Valerie Jarrett had taken her name out of consideration for the position, after being offered a job at the White House. Without being able to appoint Jarrett, who was Barack Obama’s choice, Blago would have less influence with the president for future opportunities, according to Harris. Blago wanted to “maximize this opportunity”, to find someone like a “black Albert Einstein” or “Mother Teresa type”.
Former commerce secretary (and brother of Chicago’s mayor) Bill Daley, was mentioned as a possiblity, even though Blago didn’t like him. ”He’s an a**hole, a f-ing a**hole” Blago can be heard saying in a phone call which was played in court (and which elicited smirks from the courtroom). Blago thought Daley at least could prevent Congressman Jesse Jackson junior from being able to win a race for senate during the next election.
Later on, the congressman was being given a second look, as a senate appointment choice. ”As painful and offensive as it is” Blago says. He thought it was a mistake to have dismissed the idea of Jackson early-on, that he should consider “the value of Jesse”. Blago tells Harris he’s been approached by “third parties” with offers of campaign contributions, of $1.5 million, in exchange for giving Jackson the senate seat. Dec 8, 2008, Blago met with Congressman Jackson. John Harris was also there. Harris was arrested by the feds Dec 9th.
An attorney for Blago brother Robert Blagojevich, who is also on trial and sitting at a defense table next to the former governor, pointed out that Robert was not part of the plotting for a deal with the vacant senate seat. And, from the witness stand, John Harris called Robert “honest and truthful”.
The defense is now cross examining Harris. It could take awhile. There was a lot of damaging testimony heard in the days of Harris testifying for the prosecution.