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Blagojevich retrial agent: FBI describes "Wire Room"

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Dan Cain is now on the stand for the prosecution. He's the FBI guru who's been on the state corruption investigation since 2003 -- long before Rod Blagojevich was a target.

With secret recordings playing such a huge role in this trial, and a constant source of dispute, Cain is describing how the FBI took the evidence.

Cain, an accountant before he joined the FBI, explains this methodically.

Interception of calls happened at a secure FBI office in the Chicago area, Cain says.
It all went down in "The Wire Room," a secure location in an FBI facility where the listening equipment is located.
The calls are transmitted from telephone lines, the computer system captures it. The agents record the calls. The calls are recorded onto discs digitally. One disc is marked "original." One is marked "working copy." A disc was sealed and brought to a judge after 30 days. A federal judge has to oversee a wiretapping investigation. In this case, several extensions were granted from Oct. 22 to Dec 9, 2008.

Important point: Cain explains that the number of "sessions" of recordings is different than the number of conversations recorded. That's big because the defense has made much hay over the "thousands" of conversations that had been recorded but just a fraction were played at trial. Cain explains that the numbers could be deceptive: one conversation could get several session numbers. If a call was interrupted by call waiting, it would get a new number.


In a letter of admonition, the U.S. Senate ethics committee said U.S. Sen. Roland Burris was "misleading" and "inconsistent" in his statements before an Illinois House impeachment panel and less than candid about his failure to disclose various contacts with Rod Blagojevich's administration.
Before the ethics panel's letter was made public, Burris put out a press statement indicating he was "cleared of legal wrongdoing."
The initial headlines went up.
And then ... the delete button.
In its Friday letter, the ethics committee said Burris gave "multiple and at times contradictory explanations for failing to disclose all your contacts with the governor's associates."
The ethics inquiry was launched earlier this year after the Chicago Sun-Times revealed that Burris' testimony before an Illinois House panel investigating Rod Blagojevich's impeachment lacked critical details about his dealings with the ex-governor's brother.
Burris added to his testimony in a written affidavit, which was first made public in the Sun-Times after the paper raised questions to the senator about his discussions with Robert Blagojevich.
The letter goes on to say that Burris' recorded conversation with Robert Blagojevich about fund-raising was "innappropriate," but did not rise to the level of an explicit quid pro quo.
But it faulted Burris with failing to disclose the conversation with the brother of the ex-governor before he was seated in the U.S. Senate.
"You should have known that any conversations you had about your desire to seek the Senate seat and about any possible fund-raising for the governor were critical to these inquiries," the letter stated.
The ethics panel said Burris didn't break the law, however: "Senators must meet a much higher standard of conduct."
Sun-Times editorial: "Burris lied, then lied about lying."
New York Times: 'A sternly worded rebuke.'
Chicago Tribune's Steve Chapman: "Burris is a lying snake."
Lynn Sweet: No charges coming

Here's the Burris audio

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Listen to the recording

And this is what Burris said in a Feb. 4 sworn affidavit:
I recall that Gov. Blagojevich's brother, Rob Blagojevich, called me three times to seek my assistance in fund-raising for Gov. Blagojevich. The first conversation was in early Oct. 2008, and he other two were shortly after the election. During the first conversation I asked Rob Blagojevich what was going on with the selection of a successor if then-Sen. Obama were elected President, and he said he had heard my name mentioned in the discussions. In one of the other conversations (I believe the last one), I mentioned the Senate seat in the context of saying that I could not contribute to Gov. Blagojevich because it could be viewed as an attempt to curry favor with him regarding his decision to appoint a successor to President Obama. I did not raise or donate any funds to Gov. Blagojevich after the fund-raiser on June 27, 2008.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Burris-RobBlago audio category.

Blagojevich retrial is the previous category.

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