The Ward Room a political blog launched in late March “combining the on-air political expertise of WMAQ, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoons of Jack Higgins, and the reporting analysis of writer and book author Edward McClelland.” Its epitaph boasts, “Covering Chicago’s nine political influencers.” The nine members of Chicago’s political elite, according to the Ward Room’s creators, are Mayor Richard Daley, Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Congressman Mark Kirk, Chicago alderman Sandi Jackson, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Chicago alderman Ricardo Munoz, Illinois governor Pat Quinn, Chicago alderman Toni Preckwinkle, and of course, ex-governor Rod Blagojevich.
Before addressing the secrets exposed by this relatively new blog, let's recap the events leading up to the motion for subpoena. When Blagojevich was indicted for fraud, Obama and federal prosecutors discussed ties between convicted developer Tony Rezko and Blagojevich’s attempts to strike deals for a Senate seat. Since then, Blagojevich’s lawyers filed a motion for the notes from those discussions, but have yet to receive them.
Because of this, and several other reasons, both Blagojevich and his defense attorneys believe Obama’s subpoena is a necessity. The filing of Blagojevich’s defense attorneys states, “President Obama has direct knowledge to allegations made in the indictment. In addition, President Obama’s public statements contradict other witness statements, specifically those made by labor union official and senate Candidate B (Valerie Jarrett). It is anticipated that labor union official will be a witness for the government. His accounts of events directly related to the charges in the indictment are contradicted by President Obama’s public statement.”
While Blagojevich believes that Obama’s subpoena will help to exonerate him, the Ward Room addresses a variety of potential issues that may arise for Obama if he does indeed appear.
According to Ward Room’s “Redactions Revealed: The Six Secrets You Need to Know From the Obama Subpoena Request,” the motion to subpoena President Obama was intended to be “heavily redacted [but] was improperly edited.” The editing error allowed a few items to be leaked. The Ward Room claims that there were six particular items that were meant to be concealed.
First, President Obama may have been dishonest about his conversations with Tony Rezko, a convicted fraud who has admitted to election law violations by personally contributing money to the campaign of a certain official (Obama). While the revised motion indicates that Obama refused a request to “hold a fundraiser in favor of favorable legislative action”, the redacted portion shows that Rezko has stated that he and a public official (Obama), “had certain conversations about gaming legislation and administration, which the public official denies having had.”
Second, Obama may have highly recommended Valerie Jarret for Blagojevich’s Senate seat, that which is in question during this investigation. President Obama allegedly engaged in conversations with labor union officials, and left a message to a particular labor union official, who perceived the message to imply that President Obama has indicated his preference for Valerie Jarret, also known as Senate Candidate B, and that Jarret would be “a good Senator for the people of Illinois and would be a candidate who could win re-election.”
The third secret relates to a phone call on November 2, 2008 that involves a supporter of then President Candidate Obama. The supporter supposedly offered “fundraising” in exchange for Jarret for senator.
Secret number four claims that Obama “maintained a list of good Senate candidates.” On November 12, 2008, John Harris spoke to Obama’s Chief of Staff, where he learned that “Senate Candidate A was [also] acceptable to Obama as a senate pick”. Obama’s Chief of Staff told the FBI, “he could not say where but somewhere it was communicated to him that” Senate Candidate A was recommended as one of the four “right” candidates per “the Obama transition team”.
In addition to Senate Candidate A, Rahm Emanuel may have “floated Cheryl Jackson’s name for the Senate seat,” secret number five. The Chief of Staff shared with the FBI a conversation he had with Obama in which “Obama expressed concern about Senate Candidate D being appointed as Senator”. The Chief of Staff recommended that the list of Senatorial candidates be expanded to include more business oriented African Americans, and suggested the head of the Urban League.
The last of the secrets involves a secret phone call that took place between Obama and Blagojevich on December 1, 2008. The contents of that conversation can allegedly corroborate Blagojevich’s defense that a “conspiracy existed from October 22, 2008 to December 9, 2008”.
Whether Obama will actually testify at Blagojevich’s trial beginning on June 3 remains to be seen. Not since Nixon have presidents been able to claim executive immunity from subpoenas. What’s certain is that comments made by Obama conflict directly with statements made by a candidate for the Senate seat and a labor union president, and these contradictions somehow must be reconciled.
Even more certain is that corruption like this has American citizens begging for honest politicians to come forward.
Photo: AP Images