Blagojevich Indictment Proceeds but Senate Pick Goes Through

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The Blagojevich indictment is running smoothly, from the view of federal prosecutors. On January 16th, one act of the drama closed as Governor Blagojevich’s former campaign finance chief, Christopher Kelly, pleaded guilty to two criminal charges involving tax fraud. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor for both the Kelly case and the closely related Blagojevich case, is confident that John Harris, Blagojevich’s former chief of staff, will testify against the Governor. “There have been preliminary discussions between John and the government,” confirmed Attorney James Sotos, who represents Mr. Harris. Harris may be expected to confirm to a federal jury the allegation that Blagojevich made a serious attempt to sell Barack Obama’s vacant senate seat in exchange for campaign contributions.

The Illinois House has voted 114-1 to impeach the Governor, but the Illinois Senate refused to strip the Governor’s right to choose a candidate for the senate seat, instead supporting Roland Burris, a 71 year-old African American and long-time politician, despite the Senate’s earlier claim that they would not seat any Blagojevich pick. Senator Burris is not mentioned in the indictment and there seems to be nothing clear against the appointment besides the Governor choosing it, which made the Senate unwilling to issue a recall. Senator Burris served for four years as the Illinois Attorney General, and ran in the Democratic primary for the office of Governor three times, most recently in 2002, when he was backed by then Illinois Senate member Barack Obama.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D – Nev.) called Blagojevich a “crook”, and attempted unsuccessfully to stop the Burris appointment, but his sentiments have not been echoed broadly throughout the Senate, the party, or even the incoming administration. Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, declined to give “his personal opinions” during a press conference last Saturday. Still, the general feeling is still very much against the Governor, and there is nothing to indicate that the impeachment process will be anything but successful.

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