Blago’s former chief of staff: Obama knew about former governor’s attempt to get a job in exchange for Senate seat
From online reports
John Harris, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s chief of staff, testified during Blagojevich’s corruption hearings this week that Barack Obama knew of the former governor’s attempt to get a job in exchange for appointing a preferred person to Obama’s vacated senate seat.
As reported by Politico.com, Harris testified “that three days after Obama’s election as president, Blagojevich felt assured he had a deal from the president that would place aide Valerie Jarrett in the Senate. He offered no proof of his claim.”
Harris said in testimony, “The president understands that the governor would be willing to make the appointment of Valerie Jarrett as long as he gets what he’s asked for.”
According to Harris, Politico.com reported, Blagojevich expected to get a “cabinet appointment” in return for appointing Jarrett. He expected to become Health and Human Services secretary or United Nations embassador.
In conversation between Blagojevich and Harris recorded by the FBI, Blagojevich said his “objective” in looking to fill the Senate seat was to “get a good gig” in Washington, D.C.
Obama spoke with the FBI shortly after Blagojevich was arrested in 2008. The former governor’s legal team has been unsuccessful in its attempts to have the transcript of the FBI’s interview with Obama released.
The White House has declined to comment about Harris’ testimony.
Blagojevich served as Illinois governor from 2003 to 2009. Dec. 9, 2008, he was arrested on federal corruption charges that involved conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.
The Justice Department complaint alleges the former governor conspired to commit several “pay to play” schemes, including attempting “to obtain personal gain…through the corrupt use” of his authority to fill Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, in a press briefing on the investigation, characterized the scheme as auctioning the seat off to “the highest bidder.”
Blagojevich ultimately appointed former state attorney general Roland Burris (D) Dec. 31, 2008, to fill the Senate seat.
The Illinois House of Representatives voted to impeach Blagojevich Jan. 8, 2009, by a vote of 114-1. The impeachment was for corruption and misconduct in office, the first time such an action has been taken against a governor of Illinois. He became the second state official in Illinois history to be impeached.
Print This Article