Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald may be right about a lot of things when it comes to former Illinois Gov. George Ryan’s future cellmate—current Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich—but he got one thing very wrong at today’s press conference.
In a nutshell, Governor Blagojevich is being charged with trying to squeeze the Chicago Tribune into firing editorialists who don’t like him and trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder. After a few weeks of tapped phones and wired pals, Blago managed to give Fitzgerald lots and lots of incriminating comments, many of them laced with f-bombs, including one mother-f-bomb dropped on the name of one President-elect Barack Obama. Uh-oh.
The real dinger came during today’s press conference, in which Mr. Fitzgerald offered a few examples from the 76-page indictment. Obama’s Senate seat, Blago was recorded as saying, is “a bleeping valuable thing. You just don’t give it away. … I’ve got this thing and it’s bleeping golden.” Of course, after each quotation, Fitzgerald reminded everyone that Gov. Rod did not say “bleeping”—”that’s a redaction.”
At one point, Fitzgerald added, “The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave.”
“If [Illinois] isn’t the most corrupt state in the United States, it’s certainly one hell of a competitor,” said FBI Special Agent Robert Grant afterward. “Even the most cynical agents in our office were shocked.”
It ain’t called the Land of Lincoln for nothin’.