Yesterday, Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) admitted that — contrary to his sworn testimony given to a state House impeachment panel — he did attempt to raise money for former governor Rod Blagojevich while under consideration for the vacant Senate seat. The revelations mark “the first time he has publicly said he was actively trying to raise money for Blagojevich.” Previously, Burris carefully omitted key details about his fundraising attempts:
In a letter filed Feb. 5 with his latest affidavit, Burris said, “I did not donate or help raise a single dollar for the Governor from those conversations.” But Burris didn’t reveal that he tried to put a fundraiser together for Blagojevich–and failed because of a lack of donors–before deeming it inappropriate.
In an interview with the Associated Press yesterday, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) compared his arrest last month to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. “Dec. 9 to my family, to us, to me, is what Pearl Harbor Day was to the United States,” said Blagojevich, who faces federal corruption charges for attempting to sell President Obama’s vacant Senate seat. “It was a complete surprise, completely unexpected. And just like the United States prevailed in that, we’ll prevail in this.” Blagojevich’s impeachment trial in the Illinois state senate is slated to begin next week.
After a unanimous vote by a special impeachment panel yesterday, the full Illinois state House of Representative voted 114-1 to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D). The impeachment trial will be held by the state Senate.
As MSNBC pointed out, “You don’t have to be guilty of committing a crime to be impeached. You just have to be accused of abusing your power or unable or unfit to serve.”
The Chicago Tribune political blog notes that Blagojevich was jogging at the time of the impeachment vote: “A Tribune photographer took pictures of Blagojevich going jogging in his Ravenswood Manor neighborhood at about 10 a.m.”
After disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed Roland Burris to the Senate, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) became Burris’ most vocal defender. He likened Senate Democratic leaders, who said they would not seat a Blagojevich appointment, to George Wallace and Bull Connor and warned Senate Democrats not to “hang or lynch” Burris. Tonight on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” Rush went further, comparing the Senate’s refusal to seat Burris yesterday to one of the most violent chapters of the civil rights movement:
RUSH: It reminded me of the dogs being sicced on children in Birmingham, Alabama. That’s what it reminded me of.
Rush also declared that racism “is as American as apple pie.” Watch it:
Today, in a reversal from his previous position, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) opened the door to seating Roland Burris as the successor to President-elect Obama’s Senate seat. At the end of his press conference, Reid said that Burris’s appointment with undoubtedly come to a full Senate vote:
Q: Are you suggesting that there will ultimately be a vote of the entire Senate on whether or not to seat Roland Burris?
REID: I think without any question that will be the case.
Softening his earlier stance that Burris should not be seated, Obama called the situation a “Senate matter,” but he added, “If he gets seated, then I’m going to work with Roland Burris just like I worked with all the other senators to make sure that the people of Illinois and the people of the country are served.”
“She’s non-controversial, she has been here, she’s an African-American, she clearly has not been picked by the governor, and she would be appointed by virtue of her past history,” said Bennett, whose committee may soon consider Burris’s Senate appointment.
“Everyone would accept her,” Bennett said. “If she wanted to compete in the special election, she could. If Burris wanted to compete in the special election, he could.”
But the Republican added, “No one will listen to the idea and I don’t expect anything to come of it.”
Earlier today, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) broke with her party’s leadership in “calling for Roland Burris to be seated in the Senate once his paperwork is signed by the Illinois secretary of state.”
Since U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald investigated the Bush administration’s leaking of Valerie Plame’s identity — and successfully prosecuted Scooter Libby for perjury — conservatives have sought to discredit the prosecutor. Last month, Michelle Malkin insisted that Democrats would “turn on a dime” against Fitzgerald for going after a Democratic governor — despite the fact that President-elect Obama and top congressional Democrats have called for Fitzgerald to be reappointed as U.S. Attorney.
Continuing their assault on Fitzgerald, conservatives like to argue that Fitzgerald’s prosecution record is weak. Yesterday, Fox News’s Brit Hume decried Fitzgerald’s so-called “propensity” to make accusations “in news conferences” that he “is unable to prove in court.” This morning, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough slammed the prosecutor for bringing cases with “a lot of smoke” but “no fire,” and wondered, “Is Fitzgerald going to go 0 for 2 here in national investigations?” Watch it:
To say Fitzgerald might go “0 for 2″ in national investigations not only ignores the fact that he won a conviction of a Bush aide in the Plame case but, more importantly, completely ignores Fitzgerald’s successful prosecution of the terrorists — including “the blind Shiek” Omar Abdul Rahman — who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993. During the trial, Fitzgerald provided a passionate and forceful voice against what he called “a war of urban terrorism,” years before “the War on Terror” began:
– “Terrorism is real. It is here. It is in this courtroom,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald told the jury. [AP, 10/2/95]
– Assistant United States Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald concluded more than two days of the Government’s closing argument by telling the jurors, “The defendants in this room conspired to steal from Americans their freedom from fear.” [NY Times, 9/8/95]
Fitzgerald also indicted Osama bin Laden for terrorism years before he was on the national radar, after the 9/11 attacks. In addition, he secured the fraud conviction of Conrad Black, who had ties to the Bush White House. After successfully prosecuting terrorists, mobsters, governors, and White House officials, Fitzgerald is hardly in danger of going “0 for 2.”
Politico notes that former Illinois attorney general Roland Burris, whom Gov. Rod Blagojevich chose to fill President-elect Obama’s Senate seat, has already erected his “future grave” in a Chicago cemetery. The grave “lists his accomplishments” and leaves “plenty of room above the bench to mention his career in the Senate”:
Earlier today, Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) appointed Roland Burris, the first African-American elected to statewide office in Illinois, to take Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat. Democratic leaders have indicated they are planning to block the appointment. Speculating on Blagojevich’s motives, former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey told CNN that the Illinois governor may be acting “crazy like a fox” and looking ahead to his own potential trial. Coffey said Blagojevich’s “conniving strategy” may be an effort to persuade future African-American jurors:
COFFEY: My question is: is he crazy or is he crazy like a fox? Rick, consider the fact that everything that Rod Blagojevich does at this point is with reference to his concern about spending a lot of prison time. So what does this appointment do for him? [...]
Let’s get to what may be the more conniving strategy of Rod Blagojevich. He has now put an extremely prominent African-American in play, he says, to replace the ultimate respected African-American in politics right now, Barack Obama. And he is going to say, no matter what the Senate does, I did what I could, and those guys in the Senate blocked it, that Secretary of State blocked it, but I did the right thing. And how will that play if at all to African-American jurors on the Rod Blagojevich jury panel trial one day? He may be trying to get a few points down the road, because he is surely going to need all of the points he can get.