Rod Blagojevich trial: Blago excited by value of senate seat
Rod Blagojevich sorted through ways he could benefit personally from the senate seat vacated when Obama won the presidential election, according to testimony and wiretap recordings.
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Blagojevich says to Harris in the recorded conversation that he understood he was so politically damaged in Illinois that he didn't want to ask Obama for any help that might suggest he wanted to remain governor.Skip to next paragraph
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"I have to get the ... out of here," he said, sprinkling his conversations with expletives. "The objective is to get a good gig over there (in Washington, D.C.)."
Blagojevich, 53, has pleaded not guilty to scheming to sell or trade the appointment to Obama's seat. He has also pleaded not guilty to plotting to launch a racketeering scheme using the powers of the governor's office. If convicted, he could face up to $6 million in fines and a sentence of 415 years in prison, although he is certain to get much less under federal guidelines.
His brother, Nashville, Tenn., businessman Robert Blagojevich, 54, has pleaded not guilty to taking part in the alleged scheme to sell the Senate seat and to plotting to illegally pressure a racetrack owner for a $100,000 campaign contribution.
Harris said he and Blagojevich also talked about getting then-state Senate President Emil Jones to hand over his entire campaign war chest in exchange for appointing Jones to the post, while also wondering how much money prominent businessmen might contribute to his campaign fund if he were to hand them the job.
On one tape, Blagojevich sounds annoyed at the notion that he should be grateful to Obama for the good publicity that appointing Jarrett might generate.
"Do they think that I would just appoint Valerie Jarrett for nothin'? Just to make him (Obama) happy?"Blagojevich tells Harris on the tape.
Shortly before the election, Harris said, Blagojevich came right out and asked point blank how much money someone would be willing to pay for the job. Harris testified that both he and Bill Quinlan, Blagojevich'sgeneral counsel, warned the governor that he should not talk about that.
Quinlan, Harris said, told the governor: "You can't even joke about things like that."
But during one conversation, Blagojevich sounds excited about the opportunities afforded by the appointment.
"This is good," he tells Harris at one point. Another time, he says, "I could get something for that couldn't I?"
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