Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich details the "deal" he was trying to get Rahm Emanuel to broker to fill President Obama's Illinois Senate seat in an interview with Fox News Greta Van Susteren. Blagojevich sat down with Van Susteren in advance of the Sunday telecast of "The Apprentice," where he is competes to stay on the good side of Donald Trump and not hear "you're fired."
Van Susteren asked Blagojevich about Emanuel in the wake of stories about the White House chief of staff supposedly naked in the House gym, confronting now former Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) in the shower over a budget bill. I've been told, by the way, this did not happen the way Massa told the story.
Blagojevich, asked what he thought about the Massa-Emanuel episode, used the question to pivot into a discussion about how he asked Emanuel--then a Chicago congressman--to broker a deal with Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago) to appoint Madigan's daughter to fill Obama's Senate seat in exchange for his backing a series of Blagojevich legislative proposals.
Madigan's daughter is Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Blagojevich discusses all this with Van Susteren while he is facing federal criminal charges that he tried to "sell" Obama's Senate seat.
It was Emanuel's toughness that appealed to Blagojevich, he said. Note also that Blagojevich is making statements about discussions that may have been captured on wiretaps, so we will see how his version plays out at the trial.
Blagojevich has been saying that he was making a political trade for the Obama seat; his answer to Van Susteren sums up and previews Blagojevich's defense. (Last June, Emanuel praised Lisa Madigan during a breakfast session with reporters when the White House was trying to convince her to run for the Senate. Read my report here.)
Said Blagojevich, "Yeah the deal on senate seat with me was, I was not selling a senate seat for financial gain, or money that's a lie. I wanted to make a political deal. The attorney general of Illinois, Lisa Madigan, her father is the Democratic house speaker, he was blocking a public works bill, he was blocking expanding health care, and he was pushing a tax increase.
"I wanted Rahm and sought Rahm out to be the middleman to make the deal happen. I would appoint her senator in exchange for the jobs bill, health care expansion, and written promise not to raise taxes on people. Rahm was prepared to do it and then everything changed when I was arrested 6:00 in the morning.
"In fact, the day before my arrest, I directed my chief of staff to work out the tactics, and that meant working with Rahm. I wanted Rahm, not Senator Durbin, who also offered to help because he's a lot tougher. And he's the kind of guy, if he sees a guy who if he sees a congressman in the locker room, whether clothed or not he's going to press you for what he thinks he wants to try to get done.
"And that story about him and the other congressman, is the reason why I wanted Rahm to make the deal on senate seat, because this is a guy who knows how to get it done," Blagojevich said.