I WILL say this for Rod Blagojevich: he certainly aged well in prison. At the time of his drawn-out prosecution and conviction, I thought of the one-time Governor of Illinois as a garden variety corrupt Chicago pol. Since Donald Trump commuted his sentence earlier this week, I’ve read more about his alleged crimes. Conclusion? Smugly, recklessly entitled as giver and taker of mostly political preferment in a city famed for its bossism, yes. But at his first trial in 2010, Blagojevich was convicted on only one of 24 federal charges; the jury was hung on the other 23. This was an embarrassing debacle for the Federal government. The one successful conviction was for the fake process “crime” of – you guessed it – lying to the FBI. As Mark Steyn has pointed out many times, even if you win against the Feds in court, you will probably be tried again. Uncle Sam has limitless money and malice. Sure enough, Blagojevich was tried a second time. Sufficient charges were upheld by a more amenable jury that a stupidly callous head sentence of 14 years was eventually imposed. That the DoJ attorney pulling the prosecutorial strings was notorious fanatic Patrick J. Fitzgerald makes the case even more worthy of review.
Fitzgerald – a close friend and ally of disgraced former FBI Director James Comey (and godfather to one of his children) – was also Special Counsel in the Scooter Libby investigation. It eventually emerged that he knew all along the leaker of Valerie Plame’s (never particularly secret) identity as a CIA agent was Deputy Secretary of State and well-liked insider Dick Armitage, not Libby, who as chief of staff to Vice-President Dick Cheney was a Republican political operative. This corrupt mendacity – along with the equally partisan and unscrupulous railroading of Conrad Black and GOP senator Ted Stevens – led the Wall Street Journal to call for Fitzgerald’s dismissal in 2010.
As we now understand more fully – partly thanks to Comey, who believed he and his privileged friends would be protected by the incoming Hillary Clinton administration – the letter of the law in contemporary America for cases involving politicians only applies in its strictest measure to non-Democrats. That’s why Fitzgerald was able to get away with his dirty tricks for so long. Alas for Governor Blagojevich, there was a unique reason he was a Democrat exception to the rule. The most publicised charge against him was that he had sought to ‘sell’ the empty Illinois Senate seat of Barack Obama. For his part, Blagojevich insisted he had liaised openly and transparently with the then President-elect about a replacement.
To make matters even more potentially disastrous for the new man in the White House, his chief adviser David Axelrod accidentally confirmed that Obama did speak directly with Blagojevich about the Senate seat. Axelrod retracted later when the implications of a fresh President conferencing with a man whose phones were tapped as part of a much wider corruption probe became obvious. This may have been the first of the many “misspoke” excuses of the Obama era. Journalists, editorialists, cartoonists and career pressure appliers – most of them in loving thrall to the “Light Worker” – abandoned Blagojevich to his fate. Ironically, after a 2013 appeal, the seat-selling conviction was one of five vacated by the Seventh Circuit. In a leftist party whose big names have to fake modest back-stories, Blagojevich came up poor and tough. A Golden Gloves boxing champ who won more than he lost, he clawed his way to the top. That doesn’t excuse wrongdoing but it does say something about the elitist culture and moral hypocrisy of Deep State fixers. He got 14 years for seeking to advance his own career by using the power of patronage while men like Comey tried to rig a coup and walked away.