Jurors convicted former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich Monday of conspiring to sell an open Senate seat for political favors, and a key factor in their decision was the prosecution's use of Blagojevich's taped conversations, gathered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
It took the jury 10 days of deliberation to issue their verdict convicting Blagojevich on 17 counts of wire fraud, attempted extortion, soliciting bribes, conspiracy to commit extortion, and conspiracy to solicit and accept bribes, and jurors described carefully listening to the tapes and rereading transcripts before they reached a decision. Below are some telling excerpts.
Prosecutors alleged that Blagojevich intended to appoint Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to President Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat in order to win legislative concessions from her father, House Speaker and state Democratic Party Head Michael Madigan. They described how Blagojevich sought to misdirect the public by implying that he would appoint Rep. Jesse Jackson, D-Ill., to the seat, something that seems to be borne out in a conversation between Blagojevich and Deputy Governor Bob Greenlee.
It's a repugnant idea but I need to leverage that Jesse Junior with these f***ing national people to get the deal for Lisa, you follow what I'm saying? Blagojevich said. I want these national Democrats and Obama and I want it to be like Obama said we should appoint him, I want them to say holy f*** it's going to be Jesse junior if we don't get this Lisa thing done.
They're all f***ing me, all these national f***ers, Blagojevich added. F*** you!
In another call, Blagojevich referred to Madian and Jackson as Two equally repugnant picks, on a personal level, adding that However, I must say, having some experience with both of them, if they were both drowning and I could save one, I really think I'd save Jesse.
Blagojevich also pondered appointing Obama ally Valerie Jarrett to the seat in exchange for his being named U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.
[Jarrett] now knows that she can be a U.S. senator if I get [the post of Secretary of] Health and Human Services, Blagojevich said. I'm willing to trade the thing I got tightly held, to her for something she doesn't hold quite as tightly.
In another conversation, Blagojevich discusses whom to appoint to the Congress seat vacated when Rahm Emanuel -- now the mayor of Chicago -- left to become Obama's chief of staff. Emanuel asks the then governor for help in securing his favored successor.
I am happy to appoint your guy, Blagojevich said. If I can do it, I'll do it.