One of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s top aides testified that he believed Barack Obama knew about Blagojevich's maneuvers to get a Cabinet post in exchange for appointing a longtime Obama friend to Obama’s U.S. Senate post, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
John Harris, Blagojevich's former chief of staff, voiced the belief Wednesday during the former governor's corruption trial in Chicago, the Sun-Times reported.
Three days after the Nov. 4, 2008, Blagojevich told Harris was sure that Obama knew he wanted to exchange perks, according to the Sun-Times report.
In explaining a recorded phone call, Harris said, "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 . . . The governor gets the Cabinet appointment he's asked for."
In court Thursday, those at the trial heard an FBI tape in which Blagojevich became bitter when told that the president-elect would give him thanks — but nothing else — for naming an Obama favorite to the Senate, according to The Associated Press.
"They're not willing to give me anything but appreciation," Blagojevich is heard saying glumly on tape, AP reported. Jurors also heard his voice as he punctuated his remark, "(Expletive) them."
The president is not accused of any wrongdoing in the Blagojevich case, in which the former governor has pleaded not guilty to charges of scheming to sell the Senate seat and racketeering.
In another Chicago newspaper’s story on Harris’ testimony, a Tribune blog reported that Harris said he was in his Springfield office on Nov. 12, 2008, when U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who was to become Obama’s chief of staff, called about possibilities to fill Obama's Senate seat.
During that conversation, Emanuel told Harris that Jarrett, a longtime Obama family friend, would not be interested in the seat because she was taking a White House job, the Tribune reported
Emanuel suggested four candidates he said the president-elect would have no objection to succeeding him if Blagojevich nominated them, testified Harris, who said he passed the names on to the governor: U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, and Tammy Duckworth.
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