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The Rahm Emanuel angle in the Blagojevich trial: Opening statements

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By Abdon M. Pallasch
Chicago Sun-Times Political Reporter
Sun-Times Blagojevich coverage at

CHICAGO--Presidential Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had agreed to be an "intermediary"between former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his rivals Mike and Lisa Madigan, as Blagojevich tried to give Lisa Madigan Barack Obama's old senate seat, Blagojevich's lawyer told jurors in the opening statement of the former governor's corruption trial.

Lawyer Sam Adam Jr. dragged out as many big names as you'd expect: Emanuel, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), who had been lobbying Blagojevich for appointment to the seat Obama held at the time of Blagojevich's December, 2008 arrest.

Adam shouted rather than said it. Adam shouted the opening statement at the same volume he used to successfully shout his closing argument at R&B Superstar R. Kelly child porn trial. Kelly was acquitted.

Adam said Blagojevich had selflessly decided to give Attorney General Lisa Madigan Barack Obama's old senate seat so that her father, Mike Madigan, Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives and chair of the state's Democratic Party, would stop blocking all Blagojevich's good-government initiatives.

But here's the problem: The Madigans wouldn't take Blagojevich's calls.

"Mike Madigan was not taking his calls," Adam shouted. "Lisa Madigan has got investigations going up his wazoo. You've got to get an intermediary. Who's agrees to be an intermediary? The person they say he's trying to extort -- Rahm Emanuel. He calls [Blagojevich chief of staff] John Harris and says, "I'll do it."

Blagojevich wanted to keep the seat in Black or Hispanic hands, but Reid and the White House are worried Jesse Jackson Jr. could not be re-elected if Blagojevich appoints him, Adam shouted.

"What's the most important thing to them? That the senate seat be held by the Democrats in 2010," Adam shouted. "And they didn't think Jesse Jackson Jr. could hold it. Reid said, 'Send me somebody, just not Jesse Jackson, Jr.,"

The judge in the trial, James Zagel, has already refused Blagojevich's subpoena for President Obama, but subpoenaes have gone out to the other big names mentioned, and they may be destined to testify at some point over the summer.

Blagojevich is charged with trying to extort money from people looking to be appointed to the senate seat. He is also charged with trying to get one of Emanuel's brother to hold a fund-raiser for him in exchange for a grant to a school in Emanuel's old congressional district.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on June 9, 2010 6:30 AM.

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