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In Re: The Matter of Rod Blagojevich (Continued)

Justice Marcus misses the point. (Not so widely as when she tried to justify the unjustifiable by approving the disgraceful commercial exploitation of the Obama daughters by a dollmaking firm. But I digress.)

I stipulate that in my opinion, I should not have qualified Gov. Blagojevich's status as a buffoon and a jerk. He is, indeed, a full-fledged buffoon and an insufferable jerk. Buffoonery and jerkishness, sadly, are not attributes that disqualify the bearer from public office. I further stipulate, as I did in my opinion, that Blagojevich is a lousy governor and that the citizens of Illinois deserve better. Further, I stipulate that the state senate is well within its rights to toss him out on his ear (although both ears are amply protected by that helmet of hair).

Finally, I stipulate that Justice Marcus went to law school.

I find, however, that her search for the overt act that justifies a charge of conspiracy has not yet borne unambiguous fruit. Blagojevich wanted an ambassadorship or a salary of $350,000, and told someone of these desires? I share them, as does Justice Marcus, but nobody is going to lock us up (I hope). He instructed an underling to draw up a list of demands? That could be an overt act, but it depends where the line is drawn across the slippery slope upon which any governor, contemplating such an appointment, would find himself. That slope begins with said governor contemplating the appointment of Candidate A and wondering who would be happy with the appointment and who would not -- in other words, where the political advantage might be maximized. At the bottom of the slippery slope, envelopes of cash are exchanged under cover of night. In between are gradations of quid and quo, and, at some point, there's a line where reciprocal back-scratching becomes criminal conspiracy.

It might be that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has evidence that places the hirsute governor clearly on the criminal side of that line. I find that he has not yet put such evidence on display.

By Eugene Robinson  | January 27, 2009; 1:54 PM ET
Categories:  Robinson  | Tags:  Eugene Robinson  
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Comments

Are there not two phases within the Impeachment process? The first being the impeachment within itself and the second being the conviction process, which determines if the public official shall be removed from office?

Is the Illinois State Legislature currently holding hearings to determine if Gov.'t Blagojevich's has committed any crimes, which will either support or not support a conviction charge for his removal?

Robinson, this man has not been convicted of anything, yet. How come you will not allow the Impeachment process to run its course, before the man has actually been convicted of such charges; regardless, of whether the man is a buffoon or jerk?

Just in case you do not know what the article states, I copied the section for you for reading.

According to the Illinois Constitution - Article V, Section 14

The House of Representatives has the sole power to conduct legislative investigations to determine the existence
of cause for impeachment and, by the vote of a majority of the members elected, to impeach Executive and Judicial
officers. Impeachments shall be tried by the Senate. When sitting for that purpose, Senators shall be upon oath, or
affirmation, to do justice according to law.

It goes on to say,

*** If the GOVERNOR is tried, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall
preside. No person shall be convicted without the concurrence
of two-thirds of the Senators elected. ***

Posted by: lcarter0311 | January 27, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Should not this be seen more as a political process or maneuver, rather than a criminal matter in which justice or fairness are required?

It strikes me as very similar to the removal of Governor Evan Meacham from office by the Republican leadership of the Arizona state senate back in the 1990's.

Meacham's election was an historical accident - sort of like Allende in Chile - and he proved an embarrassment and danger to the Republican party's electoral prospects.

For that reason, the Arizona Senate Republican leaders cast around for the best available issue (which otherwise would have been ignored) as an excuse to remove him from office.

It is the same with Blago - politics not criminality or justice. It is a shame this could not have been done with Allende rather than the coup.

Of course there are journalists who look for and exaggerate the reasons to support Blago's removal because he is an embarrassment, especially so to Democrats and liberals - which includes most journalists.

Posted by: estebanwt2 | January 27, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Ain't no Justice in Marcus. In her mind, she's already pardoned without prejudice the entire Bush administration. (See Richard Cohen today, the stupid is spreading)
As for Robinson, I hope he and Marcus are having fun on the playground while the rest of us search for jobs.

Posted by: kmblue | January 27, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse


You're still missing the larger picture here, Gene. The impeachment (and the criminal case) are about a lot more than just peddling the senate appointment.

Perhaps all you are saying is that Fitz hasn't shown you all of his evidence. Well, DUH. He's a successful prosecutor, who has been busily turning one conspirator against the next.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | January 27, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Under federal law the overt act must be an independent act that comes after the agreement or conspiracy and is performed to effect the objective of the conspiracy. The overt act itself need not be a criminal act, because its sole function is to demonstrate that the conspiracy is operative. If, for example, two persons conspire to rob a bank and rent a getaway car, the rental is an overt act that in itself is perfectly legal. Drawing up a list in furtherance of the conspiracy would certainly be an overt act sufficient to complete the crime.
"Let's rob a bank" "Good" says the underling. "Make a list of the things we need" Okay says the underling who writes the words "rent a car" on a piece of paper. This could be enough.

Posted by: mharwick | January 27, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

I hope the American people are not getting so used to people taking money under the table and for people asking for money to do their job that we think this is OK. If you find someone asking, he has done it before!! This man is a bad apple and deserves all he gets. Maybe he will take a few down with him. This corruption has got to stop!!!

Posted by: annnort | January 27, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Party A. "I need your help to buy a mansion I can't afford. The seller insists that the empty lot next door be sold simultaneously. Would you please buy the lot next door for full price so I can negotiate a reduced price that I can afford on this mansion?" Then if you would please sell me 10 feet from the back of your lot to enhance the size of my back yard. BUYER B. "Sure, but let my wife put it in her name."
Mansion is purchased, lot is purchased and 10 feet sold, and made unbuildable thereby and sold for less than the purchase price to a connected third party. The mansion buyer PARTY A. had received hundreds of thousands of dollars of contributions from the lot buyer PARTY B who in turn was awarded contracts which brought him hundreds of thousands of dollars at the behest of the mansion buyer. The mansion buyer was a State Senator and then A U.S. Senator and did not report the iron fence built at the expense of the lot buyer between the parties. PARTY A said " Dealing with PARTY B who was under publicly known FBI investigation for corruption at the time was "boneheaded." Professor Robinson can you find a crime here? Hint. Sen.Ted Stevens was gifted with work on his home and failed to report it and was convicted of the felony related only to that failure to report.

Posted by: mharwick | January 27, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

That is why I love Judge Judy so much. The individuals on her show, although probably much lower on the economic, social, and educational ladder that...say Blagojevich...are held to a higher standard than corporate and political evil doers.

If Blagojevich is not guilty of conspiracy, then neither are those individuals planning to blow up the Sears Tower.

Posted by: jimmyminder | January 27, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Eugene, I couldn't agree with you more. If he's so guilty, why is it taking so long to charge him with a crime? Methinks that Ole' Fitzie got excited about nailing Obama by proxy, and he just plum shot his wad too soon, before the Gov even had the chance to commit a crime. Based on the evidence I've seen, I don't think there's enough to get a jury to convict. I mean, even a written list on a piece of paper would be pretty flimsy, and I don't think they even have that.

This doesn't mean I approve of Gov. Blagojevich's actions. I just believe that we live in a land ruled by law, not by rogue prosecutors with an axe to grind. The standard of evidence for indicting a sitting Governor had better be beyond reproach, and what we've seen so far is nowhere near enough to justify the witch hunt we are seeing today.

Posted by: jerkhoff | January 28, 2009 2:28 AM | Report abuse

Justice Robinson,
In the matter of the Obama Dolls, I submit that the Dolls in Question do not resemble the Obama Daughters In The Least. I cite as precedent the age-old recipe hitherto referred to as What-Little-Girls are Made of v Children in the White House(2009). To wit: Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice, to which black hair, tan skin, and the name Sasha or Malia are added do not necessarily a President's Daughter make. These qualities, however, along with the artistic addition of extraordinarily large beautiful, soft brown eyes and a rosebud mouth, do make a lovely doll who will share these same names with many, many other equally lovely girls-yet-to-be-born in the years to come. I submit that far from avoiding the manufacture of said brown girl dolls with names Sasha and Malia, more of this type of thing should be done, and it is recommended that the manufacturers also create for these dolls equally attractive girl friends in all subtle shades of the human rainbow, i.e., red and yellow, black, and white, and every conceivable(sorry) shade between.

I further recommend that Justice Robinson
stick to his areas of male expertise and leave the Doll Decisions to Justice Marcus, who Seems to Known What She is Talking About.

Posted by: martymar123 | January 28, 2009 7:11 AM | Report abuse

The Democrat bill to "revive the economy"is in reality a gigantic Boondogle. It is only a vehicle to hide hundreds, maybe thousands of "Set Asides" which have not been evaluated for relevancy, or simply, are they only for the benefit of the Senator or Congressman who secretly inserted them.

This a supposedly legal way not to be prosecuted as the Illinois governor is for doing the same thing. This is common practice in the Senate and the House. Where is the open government that Obama promised?

Posted by: chod1560equines | January 28, 2009 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Just wanted to say thank you to both Robinson and Marcus for continuing this debate in such an entertaining manner. Please keep it up!

Posted by: mebutle | January 28, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Gene:

You got to remember that when every person has made up their mind, then no proof is needed. Anyone who disagrees is told that they are delusional.

Facts? We don't need no stinking facts.

We have Keith to tell us what to think.

Posted by: gary4books | January 28, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Conviction in this impeachment trial would bear no legal consequence other than removal from office. The legislators need no evidence - only suspicions. Essentially, it is a vote of no-confidence, nothing more. But the Legislature can't convict Blagojevich, per se, nor can they incarcerate him, nor sentence him to anything other than removal from office.

There are two trials on the radar. One trial is to satisfy the Federal charges - the only charges that have been brought. But the impeachment is to satisfy the State. The Illinois Department of Justice hasn't charged Blagojevich, so the Legislature is flexing what muscle they can on the state level, to try and "clean up their own mess."

Justice Marcus' buffet of conspiracy charges is certainly valid. But there is also a long-winded charge that would certainly suffice, which is often brought up in circumstances such as these: "Depriving the people of honest services."

Springfield can get by with saying "The SOB is guilty of SOMETHING! Toss 'em!" Mr. Fitzgerald, on the other hand, will have to be specific.

Posted by: bbtoll | January 28, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

What's truly annoying is that some of the articles of impeachment implicate the legislators themselves. They want to impeach the guy for a program (importing drugs from Canada) that THEY FUNDED! These are the same legislators whom you can find in the legislative debates pronouncing that they are going to vote for bills that they KNOW are unconstitutional, because they're scared their constituents will vote them out if they vote "no". Wimps.

Posted by: jpantsios | January 28, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Fitzgerald should be reprimanded for grandstanding, prejudicing potential jurors and holding the trial in the Media rather than in the courtroom.

I think his case is doubtful. I think his behaviour is abominable and that he should be brought before the bar association.

Society is obliged to wait for the trial which should be held in a courtroom in front of a judge. There should be a charge and evidence.

A conviction by the Media or proclamation is an appalling travesty of justice.

Fitzgerald, politicians and the MEdia are saying that society does not need a trial in this situation and that Blagojevich is not entitled to a trial. This is little more than a lynch mob which wants to hang their victim before the trial.

Fitzgerald must explain why he considers that he was entitled to make his emotive claims. One silly statement was that the most sangune officers in his department were appalled by the Blagojevich tapes. Well, I say so what?

Let's wait for the trial. I would expect Blagojevich to say that his statements were cynical but did not amount to seeking a bribe. Now I may be wrong so let's wait for Blagojevich to deliver his defence.

Posted by: robertjames1 | January 28, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Illinois, YOU have a problem ! Being from Texas, i am enjoying your govenor make an A_ _ out of every illinoian.

Posted by: knox2619 | January 28, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

AGREED 100%.

BUT NONE OF THAT MATTERS NOW. The Governorship appears within a day or so of being lost.

Perhaps his best move now, unfortunately, is to resign, so he can live to fight another day, which he will obviously have to do.

Posted by: brucerealtor@gmail.com | January 29, 2009 4:07 AM | Report abuse

First let me said that the Illinois Governor has made common sense mistakes, and that if found guilty in the federal courts he should resign, but is that a reason for the newspapers (media) to harass him so that he resign or improperly intimidate the Illinois Senators to deny him due process of the law? The local press keeps bringing up improper details, like not living in the executive mansion in Springfield, to push their communitarian movement pressures. It also was improper that the newspapers did not cover the stories of the children abused by priests until decades later. And in my Henry County IL case No. 06-CM-700, the Court denied, as shown on page C802, lines 7-13, my attempt to put the arrest statute [720 ILCS 5/21-3] in as my first Exhibit because the statute said, in subsection a, that the law does not apply in a building open to the public, and I was arrested in a building open to the public. It was improper of the Moline Dispatch newspaper to refuse my request to cover the motion hearing and then that it never covered that denial of the arrest statute. Nor has any newspaper covered my appeal No. 3-08-0775 in Ottawa IL. Newspapers should pursue the importance of the due process of law. Shame on the newspapers for slanting stories in favor of their friends, distorting the due process of laws, and improperly using the communitarian movement pressures. VoteNoParty

Posted by: VoteNoParty | January 29, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse


Illegal personal enrichment --actual or planned-- is by no means the exclusive province of ousted Blagojevich.

There's news in the past few days that both Tim Geithner and Tom Daschle had provided --at least in the past few years-- governmental "financial aids" to themselves by not paying all taxes due to the US treasury.

While Geithner has thus directly proved his suitability for the US treasury secretary's job, by demonstrating that he takes personal interest in providing "services" in forms like government's financial aid to individual human beings like himself, Daschle also has proved that he is eminently suitable for the job of Secretary of the Department of Health and HUMAN SERVICES.

===================================================

Posted by: AMemberofHumanSociety | January 31, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

In the unearthing of the financial crisis, what’s being exposed is the abuse of power. We’re all familiar with the quote about absolute power corrupting absolutely. It’s easy to point fingers and forget that we all must be mindful of our authority. It takes courage to be self-responsible and work toward a life of empowered humility. This means we live our life to our fullest potential, knowing that we are not all that exists. We are not God. We are co-creators with that which exists beyond us. However, as humans, we do have much power and must be respectful of that fact. As far as Ted Haggard, Bernie Madoff, Governor Blagojevich, and all the others who have come to the light of day at this time, it is their personal work to determine what caused these enactments. If they are simply talking without insight and deep reflection, it is more of the same abuse. Excusing, explaining, and distorting the truth will not lead them to live from integrity, nor will it lead them to making the changes that are currently necessary to live as part of today’s society. If you listen to Obama’s inauguration speech you will hear the language and attitude of maturity, self-responsibility, and collective kindness that is currently rising in our group consciousness. Finally, let’s all be mindful to look into our own hearts at the way we perhaps use power.
http://www.DrJenniferHoward.com

Posted by: drhoward | February 1, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

The impeachment process is flawed.

It is apparent that many of Illinois's outraged politicians had decided that Blagojevich was guilty before they held their so-called 'trial'.

Blagojevich should not have addressed them because their minds were so closed that they ran a kangaroo court.

They listened to prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's prejudicial comments and the tapes which are ambiguous.

Fitzgerald's behaviour is abhorrent. Although Blagojevich was due to go on trial in the Illinois courts, Fitzgerald made statements of doubtful value at his press conferences which were designed to ask listeners to assume Blagojevich's guilt before the trial.

One must wonder why the trial system exists if Fitzgerald is allowed to use his standing to convict Blagojevich in the Media. That process is unfair and irrational. As usual, the Media is full of airheads that seek drama no matter what price an unliked individual must pay.

Fitzgerald reminds me of the indecency that characterised vigilantes. Those people preferred to lynch the 'accused' before the trial. It did not matter what case the accused had the vigilantes were so intent on a lynching that they closed their ears.

America has had much unfairness under Bush. He assaulted the judicial system and proclaimed that unfairness was the order of the day. Many willingly followed him.

Unfortunately, there are too many people who, without Blagojevich's evidence and without hearing Blagojevich, are prepared to assume that he is guilty. So much for justice and fairness. I guess if they ever go on trial they will then distinguish between processes which are fair and unfair and they will insist on due process.

Posted by: robertjames1 | February 2, 2009 1:28 AM | Report abuse

Blago's biggest crime, or what we have tangible evidence for so far, is revealing how and for whom the system really works: it is all about patronage, trading in public employment, cronyism, networking, schmoozing, etc in both parties.

As for what Blago has been proved, with full due process to have done, is nothing. In no court of law is one allowed to introduce parts of snippets of tapes; the whole tape and chain of custody has to be introduced and vetted. A person cannot be charged or convicted of conspiracy on the basis of ruminations, speculation, problematic comments, expressing wishes or whatever without being part of a common plan involving two or more persons and without taking at least one affirmative step in furtherance of that common plan (so someone else has to go down with Blago). Further, the release of the materials to be possibly used in a pending indictment, to be used in an impeachment process that does not have all the due process that a criminal trial has, is to violate Blago's 14th Amendment rights which he has as a public employee as well as to constitute a bad and problematic precedent. And to insulate Obama, a former Professor of Constitutional Law, who should know about presumption of innocence of those not yet found guilty in a competent legal process, even when incoinvenient, by not allowing calling of witnessness like Rahmbo Emanuel and others that Blago claims endorsed or gave him the idea for some of the schemes he was charged with, is but further denial of due process.

Here we see the Dems, just like the Republicans, appear only to care about the U.S. Constitution and due process when it is convenient; they appear just as ready to surrender basic due process and other aspects of the U.S. Constitution as the Republicsns appear eager and ready to destroy.

Posted by: omahkohkiaayo | February 2, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

They should keep Blago in the news merely for the entertainment value. With his haircut and cabbage patch doll face he would have made a great comedian.

Posted by: dcn1 | February 2, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

It amazes me how you can impeach the Governor but you can hire someone who is guilty of tax evasion...you can call it what you want but thats what it is..tax evasion. Also how come the people who bidded on the seat that the Governor was supposedly trying to sell are not held up for the same punishment you are placing on the Governor?? Does that mean you can be guilty for selling drugs but not guilty for buying them....is this not a double standard way of doing things....the people want to hear those tapes in full capacity...and we should be able to decide for ourselves....Jesse Jackson Jr and the others should be held accountable for trying to buy the senate seat when they knew it was illegal to do so....lets see them tried and found guilty also. If not then the Governor is just a scapegoat for the rest of the corrupt Illinois government including Obama!!

Posted by: b_tamargo | February 2, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

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