Reporting with Lark Turner
Rod Blagojevich testifies that Barack Obama's emissary looked embarrassed when the then-governor "floated the idea" of getting a cabinet post in exchange for appointing Valerie Jarrett.
Blagojevich described his one-on-one meeting with union leader Tom Balanoff, the same man Obama called and gave the green light to talk to the then-governor about appointing Jarrett to the U.S. Senate.
In the meeting, which happened right after Obama's Nov. 4, 2008 election, Balanoff said he was a major supporter to both Obama and Blagojevich and he wanted to work out something for Jarrett.
Blagojevich said he hesitated and explained his own personal, political predicament if he appointed Jarrett and he got nothing.
"You all go to Washington D.C. doing all this historic, beautiful stuff on health care and I'm left behind. I gotta consider those dynamics, too," Blagojevich said he told Balanoff. "He said he understood."
Then Blagojevich made the ask: Could he possibly get a cabinet position, specifically, be named to head up Health and Human Services.
"You could just see the embarrassment in his face," Blagojevich said of Balanoff.
"You have no chance at that. It's not going to happen for you. ...I felt so uncomfortable for how he looked."
Blagojevich described the conversation as a bad try. He denied ever pushing it any further by saying he'd only appoint Jarrett if he got something in return.
"I did not want to convey a promise to Tom Balanoff ... I floated the idea," Blagojevich said. "He was quick to honestly reject it as being unrealistic."