Roundtable on Blagojevich's Arrest

Roundtable on Blagojevich's Arrest

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - December 9, 2008


ROD BLAGOJEVICH, (D) ILLINOIS GOVERNOR: I don't care whether you tape me privately or publicly, I'm going to tell you that whatever I say is always lawful, and the things I'm interested in doing are always lawful.

PATRICK FITZGERALD, U.S. ATTORNEY: The most appalling conduct Governor Blagojevich engaged in according to the complaint file unsealed today is that he attempted to sell the Senate seat, the Senate seat he had the sole right under Illinois to appoint to replace President-elect Obama.

The governor's own words describing the Senate seat-quote, "It's a bleeping valuable thing. You just don't give it away for nothing."


HUME: What a difference a day makes--declaring his innocence on Monday afternoon, led away from his home in handcuffs, indicted on Tuesday morning. We're talking of course about Rod Blagojevich, the Democratic governor of Illinois.

Some thoughts on this case now from Fred Barnes, the executive editor of "The Weekly Standard," Mara Liasson, National Political Correspondent of National Public Radio, and Mort Kondracke, executive editor of "Roll Call," FOX News contributors all.

Well, Mort, this is a bit of a jolting reminder of the political atmosphere from which Barack Obama emerged. And I suppose it's fair to say that while certainly President-elect Obama is not named, except in passing in this indictment, he is certainly not charged with any wrongdoing, he and he Blagojevich certainly were political allies.

What to make of all of this?

MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "ROLL CALL": Yes, they were both part of the Democratic machine, and Obama endorsed Blagojevich for reelection. They are certainly not enemies, and, you know-

But, look, Obama has been elected president of the United States. There is no direct tie in this scandal to him. And so he, you know, he is going to go on to the White House.

The whole thing is -- I mean, Rod Blagojevich comes off as a total sociopath. He was arrested like a mafia don, and he acts like one. This is about as scuzzy behavior as you could possibly imagine.

What is interesting here is that this is an opportunity for the Republicans to come back, because you've got this candidate, number five, who is presumably one of the people who was in line to get the Obama seat, may be indicted.

HUME: They find in the indictment is a candidate number five. We don't know who that is.

KONDRACKE: We don't know who it is, but if he is one of the leading candidates, and he did, in fact, try to bribe Blagojevich into giving him the nomination, then he may be out of it.

So, say Mark Kerr, the congressman from the north shore of Chicago, a Republican, were to run in a special election, which it looks like there is, and if there is a nasty Democratic primary ahead of time, that seat could go Republican.

And if somebody could persuade Patrick Fitzgerald to run for governor in 2010, you could have a Republican resurgence in Illinois.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Look, this really was quite something. I guess the best thing for Barack Obama in this--number one, of course he isn't named or connected to any of these activities.

But he actually was exonerated in some form because Rod Blagojevich complained, with expletives deleted, called him an expletive deleted, and then went on to say that the candidate that he believes Obama wants won't do anything for him.

I think he says "All they'll give me is appreciation. Expletive delete them."

HUME: F them.

LIASSON: Yes, f them, we assume.

Look, I think this is pretty stunning. I agree with Mort, it could be an opportunity for Republicans, which would be the ultimate of political ironies, to have his own seat, Obama's seat filled by a Republican if it comes to.

Dick Durbin is calling for a special election. The lieutenant governor is asking for Blagojevich to step aside, which means either he, Pat Quinn, would name someone, or call for a special election.

I think it's really extraordinary-he's a Democrat, yes.

HUME: Fred?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": What a great case. It is just breathtaking, and so much fun! You got the guy saying you can tape anything you want of me. It reminds you of Gary Hart saying "I don't care if you tail me, I'm not doing anything wrong!"


BARNES: Who was that?

HUME: Donna Rice.

BARNES: I know her name, but there was a boat they were on. What was the name of that?

LIASSON: Monkey business!

BARNES: Monkey Business, there you go.

Anyway, I don't know about Republicans. They have had a pretty good week-Saxby Chambliss win, then they win this over Bill Jefferson in New Orleans' House seat, and not this.

And it's not quite -- there is a corruption issue with Charlie Rangel, the Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means committee in a lot of trouble as well. It's not quite a critical mass yet the way Republicans created for themselves a critical mass in 2006, in particular by so many of the House members getting in trouble.

But, you know, this is such a juicy case. It is so interesting that people will be talking about this for a long time.

It reminded me--I don't know if you like football analogies, but remember the one--Brit you've heard this, and, Mort, you probably have too- and that is when there is offensive holding and somebody is called for it and there is a penalty, and it is supposed to be the assumption on the next play that everybody can hold because the ref won't call two in a role.

And so Blagojevich must have figured the former governor is in jail, so and I can do whatever I want. They're not going to go after me.

But he was caught in so many-he has been implicated.

HUME: --over the sale of Wrigley Field, which the company owns.

BARNES: He tried to get fired the chief editorial writer for "The Tribune" who was criticizing him.

I mean, what an amazing guy. "Sociopath" is the right word, Mort.

LIASSON: There should be a governor's wing in the state penitentiary. It reminds me of that joke where the two guys are in line in the prison chow line, and one turns to the other and says "The food was better in here when you were governor." It's really extraordinary.

KONDRACKE: I'm from Illinois, and I covered Springfield, and the first governor that I covered was Otto Kerner. And, guess what, Otto Kerner went to jail!

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