Chicago Sun-Times
Inside the Rod Blagojevich investigation and related cases

Blagojevich to Harris: 'Why can't I be ambassador to India?'

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki

John Harris is testifying about a conversation with Blagojevich where the two role-played an upcoming conversation with union leader Tom Balanoff on the day after Barack Obama's election.

In the conversation, which was played for the jury, Blagojevich talks to Harris about whether or not he should imply that he's considering Attorney General Lisa Madigan or Senate President Emil Jones for the Senate seat. Harris said he had no knowledge of any possible deal with Madigan.

Blagojevich wanted "to raise the value of the request; in other words, that if the President-elect wants Valerie Jarrett, the governor would be foregoing a possible deal with Speaker [Mike] Madigan, something he valued."

In the tape, Blagojevich says he wants to get the 'eff' out of Illinois. He asks Harris how he can bring it up with Balanoff, Harris testified.

"See, the other thing is, how do I make a play for somethin' in that end over there?" Blagojevich asks Harris on the tape. "How do you bring that up? Do you do it with Balanoff or no?"

In a conversation a few minutes later that morning, Blagojevich continues to run possible job requests by Harris, primarily the position of secretary of Health and Human Services, something Harris tells Blagojevich is probably unlikely. Blagojevich throws out a few different positions he could be appointed to, including the feasibility of him being appointed the U.S. ambassador to India or South Africa.

"Why can't I be ambassador to India?" Blagojevich asks on the tape.

This goes on for several pages in the tape's transcript.

"We went through quite a few alternatives," Harris testified.

One of those alternatives was head of the Salvation Army. In a subsequent, similar call with the two men and Bob Greenlee, Blagojevich's former deputy governor, Blagojevich brings up this possibility and asks if he would have to wear a uniform.

The gallery in the courtroom laughs at that. Patti Blagojevich looks a little tired; she's resting her head on her hand with her eyes closed.

With that tape, court ends for the day.

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This page contains a single entry by Lark Turner published on May 3, 2011 4:11 PM.

Blagojevich on tape: Did they think I would appoint Jarrett for nothing? was the previous entry in this blog.

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