Blagojevich Released on Bail, Surrenders Passport

Tuesday, 09 Dec 2008 06:20 PM

By David A. Patten

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Indicted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was released on $4,500 bail Tuesday following his arrest on federal corruption charges, but had to forfeit his passport before leaving federal custody.

CNN reported the Illinois governor appeared in court in a blue jogging suit to hear the charges against him.

Blagojevich and Chief of Staff John Harris were arrested Tuesday morning. Federal authorities say they tried to barter or sell the Illinois U.S. Senate seat recently vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

“Gov. Blagojevich has taken us to a new low,” said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who gained national attention during the Valerie Plame investigation that led to the indictment and conviction of White House aide Scooter Libby. “This conduct would make [Abraham] Lincoln roll over in his grave.”

Blagojevich, 51, and Harris, 46, were charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.

Among other charges, the government states that compromising conversations involving the two were “intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps during the last month” as the officials were “conspiring to sell or trade Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama for financial and other personal benefits for [Blagojevich] and his wife.”

Fitzgerald told the media the governor’s campaign office and home phone had both been tapped.

Sen. Barack Obama told reporters Tuesday afternoon: “I had no contact with the governor or his office and so I was not aware of what was happening. It’s a sad day for Illinois. Beyond that, I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment.”

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