Former Gov. Blagojevich, awaiting trial on public corruption charges, including how he allegedly tried to sell a Senate seat, writes in his new book, The Governor, about how White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel--then a Congressman--tried to get a placeholder in his House seat in case he wanted to go back some day. Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, was asked about it at Monday's briefing. His answer below.
The Sun-Times Natasha Korecki, who broke many of the major stories about the Blagojevich probe, provides a quick over view of the Blagojevich book over at her blog.
White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett was in play for the appointment.
Writes Blagojevich of Jarrett, "I knew her and I liked her. But was this the best I could do for the people of Illinois?" He also writes that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan would not support Jarrett. Blagojevich also writes that Marilyn Katz, a public affairs consultant, made overtures to him about appointing Jarrett, saying--according to Blagojevich--it would help him get Obama contributors to donate to him.
Back to Emanuel. Blagojevich said that in that same conversation--where Emanuel, Blagojevich wrote, was trying to figure out a way around the Illinois law where House vacancies are filled through a special election, not an appointment--he brought up his brother, Hollywood superagent Ari.
"After chiding him for not acknowledging the help I gave his brother Ari in the past to help one of his clientts bring the sport of Ultimate Fighting to Illinois--an idea, incidently, that I didn't like but nevertheless I did try to help him--I told him I would talk to my legal counsel. and see if there was a way where this perhaps might work."
from the Gibbs briefing.....
Q The AP is reporting that Governor Blagojevich's new book says that Rahm Emanuel asked him to see if they could have a placeholder appointed in his House seat so that after two years as White House Chief of Staff he could go back and win the seat again and pursue his ambition to become Speaker. Can you tell us if that's the case?
MR. GIBBS: I have not -- I barely cover with Rahm what's going to happen the rest of the week. I have not talked to him about that nor have I -- I've not seen the book by the indicted former governor of Illinois.
Q And is this something that ever came up in the transition that you're aware of?
MR. GIBBS: No, not that -- I do not remember any discussion about that.
BLAGOJEVICH BOOK: Lisa Madigan was his Senate pick. Rahm asked for favor.
By Natasha Korecki on August 31, 2009 2:19 PM
I'm reading through an advanced copy of Blago's book "The Governor," officially due out in bookstores a week from tomorrow. (Rich Miller, who authors "Capitol Fax," first published excerpts from the book this morning.)
-- Blago says he was going to appoint Lisa Madigan to the Senate post.
"It had everything to do with me loving the people of Illinois."
How much does he loves Illinoisans? (The italicized question reappears throughout the 10th chapter). "Enough to appoint the daughter of my political nemesis if it meant I could achieve a lot of good things for the people." Blago says he talked about it with everyone from U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "I decided to do it because the greater good would be served," Blago writes.
Blago says he wanted to draft Durbin or Rahm Emanuel to approach Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan about cutting a political deal. Lisa Madigan would get the Senate seat if Michael Madigan advanced Blago's legislative agenda.
"He's a very troubled and confused human being," said Steve Brown, spokesman to Michael Madigan. "This book is another testimony of that."
-- Rahm Emanuel: Blago says Rahm asked him after the November election to appoint a seat holder after Emanuel vacated his Congressional post. The conversation came after Emanuel agreed to act as President Obama's chief of staff. (Sun-Times reported this in December.) Blago says Emanuel believed he was in line to become House speaker and didn't want to give that up.
"Rahm understandably wanted to keep his options open if he could," Blago writes. "Rahm told me that his lawyers thought there was a way where the governor might be able to make an appointment."
It turned out Blago didn't have the legal authority to do it.
Blago said he "teased" Emanuel that if he did it, then Emanuel should "consider it a favor."
"Because if I helped him appoint a congressman who was going to keep the seat warm for him, then I was going to make a lot of people who wanted to be congressmen unhappy with me."
Including Blago's sister-in-law, Deb Mell.
-- In the fall of 2008, Marilyn Katz, longtime friend of Valerie Jarrett, who is now an adviser to President Obama, called Patti Blagojevich about having lunch. She reached out to ex-Blago chief of staff John Harris too about Jarrett's appointment to replace Obama.
Blago says of Jarrett: "I knew her and I liked her. But was this the best I could do for the people of Illinois?"
-- Blago refers to Chicago's Special Agent in Charge as "Agent Grant," and actually puts Grant on hold when Grant tells him he's got two agents outside his home ready to arrest him. Blago was calling ex-gubernatorial lawyer William Quinlan for guidance.
--Blago takes a shot at U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and his role as a special prosecutor in the Scooter Libby case.
"The federal prosecutor had made such a big deal out of this investigation that the case became more about the prosecutor's own self-preservation than justice," Blago writes. "This same prosecutor is the one who accused me of trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat for personal gain."
He calls the accusation: "completely and entirely false."