Patterico's Pontifications


WSJ: Chicago Tribune May Have Blown Fitz’s Chance to Capture the Sale of Obama’s Seat on Tape

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:39 am

Why did Fitz seemingly rush forward with the Blago criminal complaint? The Wall Street Journal‘s Washington Wire says that the Chicago Tribune may have blown Fitz’s chance to catch Obama’s seat being sold on tape:

Members of Fitzgerald’s team are livid the scheme didn’t advance, at least for a little longer, according to some people close to Fitzgerald’s office. Why? Because had the plot unfolded, they might have had an opportunity most feds can only dream of: A chance to catch the sale of a Senate seat on tape, including the sellers and the buyers.

The precise timing of Tuesday’s dramatic, pre-dawn arrest was not dictated by Fitzgerald, nor was it dictated by the pace of Blagojevich’s alleged “crime spree.” It was dictated by the Chicago Tribune, according to people close to the investigation and a careful reading of the FBI’s affidavit in the case.

. . . .

At Fitzgerald’s request, the paper had been holding back a story since October detailing how a confidante of Blagojevich was cooperating with his office. . . . But editors decided to publish the story on Friday, Dec. 5, ending the Tribune’s own cooperation deal with the prosecutor.

As a result, the piece explains, Blago cancelled an in-person meeting that he had set up to get “something tangible” in return for delivering the seat to Candidate No. 5.

Once again, the press stomps all over the government’s efforts to effectively rein in the bad guys.

Enjoy bankruptcy, gents.

36 Responses to “WSJ: Chicago Tribune May Have Blown Fitz’s Chance to Capture the Sale of Obama’s Seat on Tape”

  1. Enjoy bankruptcy, gents.

    Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of elitists.

    Old Coot (a8acc7)

  2. Remember, this is the same media outlet who employed former associates of Axelrod, and then promptly sued (on Axelrod’s urging) to unseal the divorce records of Obama’s Senatorial GOP rival, Jack Ryan. Result? Ryan drops out, and serial nutbag Keyes comes in from out of state. Obama wins in a cakewalk, while Ryan’s family is forced to undergo an incredible amount of pain all over again – because it’s in the public interest, of course.

    Dmac (e30284)

  3. #1 Old Coot – +1,000,000,000

    Kinda reminds ya of the New York Slimes don’t it? yuck, yuck, yuck, duh, but we’re “journalists” we’re “entitled.” Going Bankrupt = Priceless.

    J. Raymond Wright (d83ab3)

  4. Huh. This sounds a lot like what I suggested happened when everyone was claiming that Fitz was sandbagging to protect Obama…

    Scott Jacobs (a1c284)

  5. Can Zell be indicted for this?

    At the very least, the Tribune ought to face the Kleig lights themselves for this.

    PCD (7fe637)

  6. Dmac, thanks for the reminder. And remember, the Trib is the “conservative” Chicago daily newspaper!!!

    carlitos (ff484a)

  7. FWIW, Robert Grant the head of the FBI office here in Chicago was on the radio this morning and denied the WSJ story. He could just be saying that to maintain the fiction of a good case prompting witnesses to cooperate, but he’s a pretty straight shooter.

    ThreeSheets (158551)

  8. I get the feelings they pulled this plug to stop even the REMOTEST of chances the Messiah was involved.

    Da'Shiznit (089453)

  9. That may be true, but the Trib’s fecklessness in other matters has been well – established, so the burden’s on them to come clean and exonerate themselves.

    Dmac (e30284)

  10. The Tribune’s front page screamed: “Feds taped Blagojevich; TRIBUNE EXCLUSIVE: Adviser cooperated with corruption probe, sources say.”

    Blagojevich read the same headline. “Undo” that “thing,” the governor allegedly told his brother, according to the FBI. And just like that, the meeting was off, only one day after it had been put back into play.

    Then there’s no crime. No attempt, no conspiracy, no solicitation, if the defendant voluntarily abandons the scheme and renders his prior actions a nullity before the crime is completed.

    nk (094d4d)

  11. FWIW, Robert Grant the head of the FBI office here in Chicago was on the radio this morning and denied the WSJ story. He could just be saying that to maintain the fiction of a good case prompting witnesses to cooperate, but he’s a pretty straight shooter.

    I wonder if the tape with “Undo that thing” will ever be given to the defense or will it be found to have been erased or lost? Not that an FBI agent-in-charge would ever conceal exculpatory evidence — especially after having gone on national television and attested to “Lincoln turning over in his grave” and “If Illinois is not the most corruspt state, it is certainly a strong competitor”.

    nk (094d4d)

  12. As Andy McCarthy notes:

    The main charge in the case is not bribery but the scheme to defraud the people of Illinois of the honest services of their governor; there need be no consummated bribe in order to prove that crime, just as there need be no consummated bribe in order to prove a conspiracy to commit bribery, another charge in the case.

    So it would have been better had the Trib sat on the story longer, but nk is wide of the mark in suggesting there was no crime to charge here.

    Karl (f07e38)

  13. Sure, the Trib which had cooperated for months with Fitzgerald’s investigation, suddenly decides to reveal the wire taps on Blogo’s phone and thereby tip off the bad guys the Feds were listening to Blogo talk about Rahm Emanuel and Jessie Jackson Jr in conjunction with selling a Senate seat.

    Recall, this is the same Trib that’s being extorted by the same Blogo to fire specific editors, the same Trib which would have exclusive insight and information about the auction of the President-Elect’s Senate seat. Stop the Presses! Now, that’s a heck of a story, the sort of thing that wins Pulitzers.

    By holding off publication for a few days, the Trib would have been uniquely positioned to break the biggest story of the year and may have generated sufficient interest, attention, and perhaps even some increase in revenue to help head off bankruptcy, or at the very least to demonstrate enough relevance to punch up the sales price.

    And what was the story so compelling the Trib just couldn’t wait a few more days to expose?

    Why, that one of Blogo’s long-time friends, John Wyma, who was also Blogo’s former Congressional Chief-of-Staff was cooperating with Fitzgerald. That’s it, that was the story the Trib used to tip off Blogo et al that Fitzgerald was listening.

    So, the Trib let the cat out of the bag for a comparatively pipsqueak of a story about yet another one of Blogo’s fundraisers getting nabbed by the Feds and agreeing to roll on a guy who was already well on his was South. The Trib has been running similar stories for years, there was nothing special or particularly time sensitive about Wyma except that printing his story provided an opportunity to reveal the phone taps.

    Sorry guys, but it just doesn’t pass the smell test.

    Ropelight (5b609a)

  14. The Dinosaur Media is dying! See:

    The liberal hacks at the Tribune are taking their last breaths, thank God. Someone should just put them out of their mysery.

    J. Raymond Wright (d83ab3)

  15. Well, I guess this spares us the indignity of having Jesse Jackson, Jr. arrested and charged with offering $1 million for the Senate seat. You know that Jesse Sr. would be on the case complaining about racism, leading hunger strikes, marches, and sit-ins, and generally basking in the limelight that has fallen away from him since the emergence of Dear Leader. Hopefully enough will emerge about the maneuverings of Jesse Jr. in this matter to ensure that he never be elected to any state-wide office.

    JVW (bff0a4)

  16. They and the NY Times and the rest sinking into red ink will simply get in line for a bailout. And Obama will give it to them. Quid pro quo.

    rrpjr (e98cdc)

  17. You don’t think it was intentional to avoid further…embarassment.

    Oh come, oh come Emanuel,
    And buy up a captive Senate Seat,
    Because thanks alone won’t buy any meat,
    And Goingtojailovich still has to eat,

    Joe (dcebbd)

  18. Karl #12,

    In inchoate crimes — attempt, conspiracy, solicitation — it is a defense that the defendant voluntarily changed his mind, stopped what he was doing, and made his prior actions “never-happened”. And when that evidence is in the hands of the prosecutor before charging, he should not charge.

    And I think that “I stopped because I read a Chicago Tribune story” is as good as “I stopped because my priest told me I would go to Hell if I kept on”. The fact is that the defendant stopped himself so society would not have to. And isn’t that the purpose of every criminal law? (And not to provide a means for the government to put people in prison?)

    nk (094d4d)

  19. While the press certainly deserves its share of blame, we are overlooking blaming the people most responsible… those who had access to this confidential information and blabbed it to begin with. If it was a cooperating witness who was the source of the leaks, well, I think that should detract more than a bit from his “cooperation” credits under the sentencing guidelines. If it was a grand juror, that’s a violation of the oath of office. If it was a federal employee, well, time for a firing.

    The press wouldn’t be able to publish these stories if the people who know such things would just keep their mouths shut in the first place.

    PatHMV (653160)

  20. And I think that “I stopped because I read a Chicago Tribune story” is as good as “I stopped because my priest told me I would go to Hell if I kept on”

    But is “I called it off because I found out the cops were recording my phone calls” really a defense?

    Scott Jacobs (a1c284)

  21. Yes, if it was a complete and permanent end, with nullification of all previous actions. And not just waiting for a better opportunity.

    nk (094d4d)

  22. I’d like to know if “call it off” had a “for now” anywhere near it…

    Scott Jacobs (a1c284)

  23. Dog-Trainer Central strikes again!

    Icy Texan (b7d162)

  24. nk

    I disagree. Conspiracy just requires two or more people conspire to commit an offense and one or more of the people do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy.

    My bet is the AUSA will argue that Harris and Blago conspired and any phone calls made prior to the “nullification” was completion of the “act” requirement.

    I also don’t think a jury will think that it isn’t a conspiracy to sell drugs because the dealer goes back and “undoes” the deal returning the money. If Blago wants to take that as his defense “gee, I stopped when I got busted by the” you should plan on visiting him in jail.

    And last, you and I may have different experiences with the FBI and DOJ up here, but I have yet to have them disappear any evidence. If anything, they have been particularly above board (as opposed to the county prosecutors).

    ThreeSheets (ae4592)

  25. No, the narrative has begun to shift. The talking points memo was sent out apparently over the weekend, and Blago has gone from being “crazy” to “railroaded by the corrupt BOOOOOSH DoJ”.

    It’s fascinating.

    Techie (07c8ee)

  26. This reminds me in a rather sick way, of a Seinfeld episode in which he makes a reservation to rent a car. When he finally arrives at the airport and goes to get his rental car, they don’t have it. But the clerk behind the desk says they DO have the reservation.

    Seinfeld tells her that the key component of a “RESERVATION” is to actually have the car. The concept of “having” a reservation and not having a car is a bit useless, the concept itself fails if there is no car, but only the “reservation”.

    In this instance, the Trib held off on the story until the very moment in time when the holding off on the story would be valuable. The whole concept of holding off on a story, or holding a “reservation” of the story…is to have something of value to “reserve”.

    It is clear that the Trib either does not understand the concept of holding a story in “reserve” or…it intentionally interfered with an ongoing investigation for the purposes of “tipping off” someone in the process.

    That “someone” turns out to potentially be Jesse Jackson, Jr., who it appears may be “Candidate #5”

    Since it is clear that the Trib has and had very little interest in helping Blago, then one must assume that there interest, if any, was in protecting one or more of the candidates.

    The question remains, if proven, would that constitute intentional obstruction of justice?

    (it would never be prosecuted, but as a thought exercise)

    If there was a whistleblower or a memo showing that the Trib wished and intended to cave in the “offer” to “pay to play”…because they didn’t want to hurt the other Democrats, would there be a legitimate inquiry into their criminal behavior?

    I have my reservations.

    cfbleachers (282c3c)

  27. […] (Jesse Jackson, Jr.), the publicly acknowledged son of the “Reverend” Jesse Jackson (link, h/t Patterico’s Pontifications).  Sounds like the Chicago Tribune broke the story before […]

    Target Rich Environment » Blog Archive » The Self-Policing Obama Administration (ccab3e)

  28. If I were paranoid, I would say there is a reason the Trib wanted to kill it just now.

    Are they journalists or apostles?

    Patricia (ee5c9d)

  29. Yeah, I think I’m on the wrong track, too. I finally got around to reading the complaint. The defenses I’m thinking of are not available under the wire fraud statutes or the Theft or Bribery statute. On the other hand, it’s a stretch to put what Blagojevich and Harris did under those statutes.

    nk (094d4d)

  30. Corrupt Bush DOJ? I thought that Fitzy was the lefties’ hero. They were all in a pre-orgasmic state waiting for a Merry Fitzmas and an indictment of Dick Cheney; I mean the Daily Kos promised that such a Fitzmas would occur not once but several times. Is Fitzy only a good boy when he’s chasing Rethuglicans as the Kos crowd might say?

    Mike Myers (31af82)

  31. I thought that Fitzy was the lefties’ hero

    Only for as long as he was going after people in the Bush Administration… and even then the honeymoon ended when he failed to indict Rove or Cheney…

    Scott Jacobs (a1c284)

  32. On the other hand, it’s a stretch to put what Blagojevich and Harris did under those statutes.

    I’m not qualified to comment on any matters pertaining to the law, but could this not be a play to get Blago to start talking, in advance of a plea deal to stay out of jail?

    Dmac (e30284)

  33. Well, a hitman who admitted to six murders for hire received immunity in the case against John Gotti. So … it depends, I guess, on whom the prosecutor is *really* after.

    nk (094d4d)

  34. […] WSJ: Chicago Trib blew Fitz’s Chance to Capture the Sale of Obama’s Seat on tape WSJ: Chicago Tribune May Have Blown Fitz’s Chance to Capture the Sale of Obama’s Seat on Tape […]

    RSS agregator » Blog Archive » WSJ: Chicago Trib blew Fitz’s Chance to Capture the Sale of Obama’s Seat on tape (6b25aa)

  35. Is Fitzpatrick a moron, letting the press in on the investigation before there is an indictment and arrest in hand? Maybe he got lulled in by the Washington Press Corp when he was wielding the billy club against those nasty Bush Rethuglicans, that he thought the dem press would allow him to build a case against favored dems? Maybe Fitzie didn’t attend contract classes where in law school where they teach that you can enter into a contract with newsmedia to restrict their publication dates of sensitive data, and get the newsmedia to agree to an injunction against publication (not prior restraint since the newsie agrees to the condition as consideration for its being privy to the background info on the investigation). I mean, Fitzpatrick had to see during the election how sacrosanct publications view their contracts with sources (the Khalidi Obama tape has still not seen the light of day due to SanFranChronicle’s ‘agreement’ never to air the video), so why didn’t Fitzpatrick do the same with the left leaning (actually left toppling) Chicago media? Seems to me maybe Fitzie really would not like to be the prosecutor who might have to haul top Obama people to Fed Court on obstruction of justice and bribery charges. It’s ok to do it to repubs cause you get invited to dinner parties, but certainly not against the second Black President.

    eaglewingz08 (98291e)

  36. The WSJ has retracted its claim that a Chicago Tribune article dictated the timing of the Blago arrest.

    Bradley J. Fikes (0ea407)

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