- VA apologizes to forgotten Marine veteran locked in Fla. clinic, forced to call 911
- U.S. social and economic trends on worrisome track, survey finds
- McDonald nomination unanimously referred to full Senate
- Chuck Norris honorary chairman of NRA voter registration campaign
- GOP outraged Obamacare investigators able to get coverage with fake IDs
- Family removed from Southwest flight over tweet about rude agent, dad says
- Michael Bloomberg thumbs FAA ban, plots course to Israel
- California bans full-contact football practices in off-season
- Thune: Downed fighter jets show more evidence of separatist capabilities
- Obama tells DNC fundraising crowd: ‘I’m not overly partisan’
Blagojevich considered Oprah for Senate
FBI recording played at trial says Winfrey ‘made Obama’
Question of the Day
CHICAGO | Former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich called Oprah Winfrey a kingmaker who could influence voters as he mulled naming the talk-show host to President Obama’s former Senate seat, according to an FBI tape played Monday at his corruption trial.
Mr. Blagojevich had mentioned in TV interviews last year that Miss Winfrey’s name had come up in discussions about the seat. Miss Winfrey said last year that she was “amused” by the revelation and that she was unaware at the time that she was under consideration.
On the tape played Monday, Mr. Harris says picking Miss Winfrey would be a mistake and he is “not sure what she stands for.” Mr. Blagojevich brushes such concerns aside, saying she was obviously a Democrat and her support in the 2008 election had “made Obama.”
But a few minutes later, Mr. Blagojevich is heard complaining that he needs more potential candidates. At one point, the governor considers trying to appoint Obama family friend Valerie Jarrett, even though she has withdrawn her name from consideration and taken a post as a White House adviser. And he erupts when Mr. Harris brings up former press secretary Cheryl Jackson.
“There’s no [expletive] way,” he screams. He calls her an “[expletive] incompetent.”
The secretly made FBI tapes show that as time passed, Mr. Blagojevich warms to the idea of picking Democratic U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., someone he had been heard on tape earlier in the trial as saying was “a bad guy, a really bad guy.”
But Mr. Harris testified that Mr. Blagojevich told him that a “third party” with ties to Mr. Jackson had visited the governor and dangled the possibility of a $1.5 million campaign contribution. Mr. Harris did not address that person’s identity in testimony Monday.
Mr. Blagojevich 53, has pleaded not guilty to scheming to get a high-paying job or a massive campaign contribution in return for appointing someone to the Obama Senate seat. He also has pleaded not guilty to plotting to use the powers of the governor’s office to launch a racketeering scheme.
His brother, Robert Blagojevich, 54, has pleaded not guilty to taking part in the alleged scheme to sell or trade the Senate seat and illegally pressuring a campaign contributor.
Judge James Zagel on Monday denied a defense motion to see documents containing Obama’s statements to investigators. Mr. Blagojevich’s attorneys had filed a motion last week asking to see the FBI’s summaries of the interviews, saying they needed them to conduct a meaningful cross-examination of Mr. Harris.
Judge Zagel said Monday there was nothing “even remotely relevant” to Mr. Harris‘ testimony.
But before prosecutors finished with him, Mr. Harris told jurors that the day before Mr. Blagojevich was arrested the governor met with Mr. Jackson in the governor’s office. Mr. Jackson had come to plead his case for appointment to the Senate.
Mr. Harris, who was on hand for the meeting, testified that the two men “buried the hatchet.”
TWT Video Picks
Retailer pays a price for getting too close to Obama
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- CARSON: Costco and the perils of mixing politics and business
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- HURT: The cost of 'free' water in Detroit
- Two Ukrainian fighter jets shot down
- David Perdue defeats Jack Kingston in Georgia Republican Senate primary runoff
- DEACE: How to go from civil rights icon to bigot in one quote
- Beretta moving to Tennessee over Maryland gun laws
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- D.C. appeals panel deals big blow to Obamacare subsidies
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq