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Politics and Media Headlines 12/17/08

Caro's picture

Cold Comfort Dept.: Bush Prepares Crisis Briefings to Aid Obama (New York Times)
The White House has prepared more than a dozen contingency plans to help guide President-elect Barack Obama if an international crisis erupts in the opening days of his administration, part of an elaborate operation devised to smooth the first transition of power since Sept. 11, 2001.

The Real Barack Obama (yes, it’s a conservative site, but in my humble opinion, this graphic is funny)

Blagojevich Reportedly Denied Jackson Jr.’s Wife a Job (AP)
Shortly after his 2002 election, Gov. Rod Blagojevich told Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. he didn’t appoint the congressman’s wife as lottery director because he had refused him a $25,000 campaign donation, a person familiar with the conversation told The Associated Press on Tuesday. ”Blagojevich went out of his way to say, ‘You know I was considering your wife for the lottery job and the $25,000 you didn’t give me? That’s why she’s not getting the job,’” the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing federal investigation.

Jackson, Jr. an informant to Blago investigations (Political Ticker, CNN)
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. — who was cited in a criminal complaint against Rod Blagojevich — has been an informant for at least a decade with the U.S. Attorney’s office, and has informed on the embattled governor of Illinois, though not in the case currently under investigation, Jackson spokesman Kenneth Edmonds told CNN Tuesday.
Jackson’s SPOKESMAN said.—Caro

Rahm’s calls on tape (by Michael Sneed, Chicago Sun-Times, thanks to J-SOM at Liberal Rapture)
Sneed hears rumbles President-elect Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is reportedly on 21 different taped conversations by the feds — dealing with his boss’ vacant Senate seat! A lot of chit-chat? Hot air? Or trouble? To date: Rahm’s been mum. Stay tuned.

Was Rasmussen trying to be disingenuous? (County Fair, Media Matters for America)
Rasmussen was out of the gate early in terms of national polling numbers regarding the unfolding Blago story… “Forty five percent (45%) of U.S. voters say it is likely President-elect Obama or one of his top campaign aides was involved in the unfolding Blagojevich scandal in Illinois, including 23% who say it is Very Likely.”… What does it mean to suggest Obama or one of his top campaign aides “was involved” in the Blago story?…

[R]eporting the results, Rasmussen assumed the worst and suggested everyone who answered yes that Obama or his aides might be “involved” in the scandal meant they did something wrong. But that’s not what Rasmussen asked. Rasmussen asked a pointless question about who might have been ”involved.”… [P]rosecutors have been quite clear that neither Obama nor his top aide are even being investigated for wrongdoing, so why on earth is Rasmussen daydreaming about finding them guilty?
Rahm Emanuel isn’t a “target” of the investigation, ACCORDING TO SOMEONE CLOSE TO EMANUEL. And has that even been said about Obama? Fitzgerald’s wording about these things is quite precise. He only talks about not having evidence against someone, not that that person is absolved of all wrongdoing. I’m thinking that we should be as precise in our language about these things as Fitzgerald is, and as we demand of others.—Caro

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Carolyn Kay
MakeThemAccountable.com

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Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

I get the point you are trying to make about Jackson's informant status, since it wasn't independently confirmed, but how could he possibly hope to get away with that, if he isn't an informant.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

he only knew he was under investigation (like all IL Govs) - he certainly didn't know of the wiretap, i don't think.

he's not that dumb.

also -- simply speaking of offers and quid-pro-quo, etc, is not in itself illegal, i don't think. I think they have to happen for it to be a crime, and it has to be clear that it was purely a payback for some other action or benefit, no?

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

no?

it's like the suitcases full of money and FBI ppl meeting with pols, etc -- that's when an arrest happens -- not when they talk about it beforehand, and set up the appointment. no?

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Even more than just talk, even if Blago *says* he wants something from ObamaCo doesn't mean ObamaCo is a.) listening or b.) even knows about it. Blago apparently wants something from everyone so of course he's going to try to get something from Obama and even talk about it, but Blago's mouth does not implicate anyone, IMO. If he directly fingers folks, that's a different story, but just because he's trying to extort people doesn't mean the people know about the attempted extortion or negotiated. As much as I don't like Obama for what he's definitely done (the primary!!!!), I view him as innocent until proven guilty. I'd also add that just because someone doesn't do something that is technically illegal, doesn't mean they are innocent of wrongdoing (e.g. Rove et al).

I have to say, I hope nothing comes of this, Obama is already in for an extremely tough time without this distraction.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

and whoever else he brought to DC who is too deeply involved that will just go away, i guess -- and that's the only stuff that'll hurt him.

and Rahm will just go back to the House and work for him there, so that's not even hurting him.

pie's picture
Submitted by pie on

about terrorist activity, etc, prior to his crowning?

How did that work out?

It certainly enabled him to tell the messenger who showed him the Aug. 6th PDB entitled "Bin Ladin determined to strike in US":

“Alright, you covered your ass, you can go."

Keep your advice, such as it is, to yourself, georgie.

Caro's picture
Submitted by Caro on

Just what I was thinking. Bush still hasn't been taken off HIS training wheels.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

If it were conspiracy, then talking about it with an act in furtherance by one of the parties suffices. The act does not have to be completion of the crime, just something that shows that the parties moved beyond 'just talk'.

The reason the feds et al normally go through with the whole transaction is so the evidence is stronger in court (if it gets that far) or for plea bargaining (if it doesn't). But the elements of the crime(s) can be fulfilled on lesser proof as well.

At least generally, I'm not up with the specific elements of what might be charged here (assuming Emmanuel or Jackson or whomever is involved). If it's solicitation of a bribe, for instance, there may be no action element at all.

As far as Jackson's spokesman, IF Jackson was willing to engage in pay-to-play, I don't think that then lying about it would be at all surprising. Few people who break laws that require some sort of intentionality think they'll ever get caught. So the idea that he wouldn't lie because he wouldn't expect to get away with it shouldn't count for much, I don't think.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

Or rather, key clarification.

An act in furtherance is not required for a conspiracy charge, unless specified by the statute in question. My apologies -- I was mixing up conspiracy and attempt (attempt does require an act in furtherance, so we aren't punishing people for just 'thinking' about committing a crime).

Now that I've de-lazified a bit and actually looked up some stuff, for federal conspiracy charges, an act is required:

18 U.S.C. sec. 371
If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

So, looks like for a conspiracy charge there would need to be an act. If there's evidence for an agreement, then I'd guess Jackson's fundraiser could very well qualify ("any act" being a rather broad definition).

I was too lazy earlier to look up the definition of bribery, but here it is: "The offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of something of value for the purpose of influencing the action of an official in the discharge of his or her public or legal duties."

So on a direct bribery charge (or influence-peddling charge, I'd imagine), 'just talk' would be enough if it contained an offer, even if no money or other value changed hands.

Here's the federal section that I believe would apply:

18 U.S.C. sec. 210
Whoever pays or offers or promises any money or thing of value, to any person, firm, or corporation in consideration of the use or promise to use any influence to procure any appointive office or place under the United States for any person, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

So, to sum up the clarification: bribery = just talk is ok, conspiracy = talk plus act in furtherance needed.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

... This country is ever more becoming a nation of haves and have-nots. By "haves" I don't just mean the rich. If you are lucky to have caring parents who are good role models and nurture good habits in you, you have an advantage in life—but you still have to work to make something of yourself. But there are many kids who have nothing—some of them go to the New York public schools Caroline Kennedy raised money for—who think there's no point making an effort because everything is already wired for the haves. They think that when the haves want something, all they have to do is pick up the phone and life's opportunities are handed to them. So Caroline Kennedy picks up the phone and announces that for her first full-time job, she'd like to be senator from New York, and thus is annointed. That's a bad message to send.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

Yeah, we're talking about conspiracy charges, here. You don't have to actually do anything for it to be illegal.