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FBI Tapes Depict A Crude, Shrewd Governor

As the head of the FBI's Chicago office tells it, when he informed Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Tuesday morning, informing him that two agents were at his door to serve an arrest warrant, the lawmaker's response was, "Is this a joke?"

The same could be said of the governor's alleged comments caught on federal wiretaps during a three-year investigation.

Chicago's FBI chief Robert Grant told reporters that long-time investigators were shocked at what Blagojevich was recorded saying, given the scandal-dogged governor knew he was under federal watch and had to have known agents were listening to his conversations.

In the FBI's assessment of the recordings, the investigators determined that Blagojevich grappled with the idea of inserting himself into the open Senate seat created when Barack Obama won the presidential election.

Among the reasons the governor considered this action were, the investigators concluded: frustration over being "stuck" as governor, his belief that as a sitting Senator he'd have greater resources to fight an indictment, and, most notably, to increase his national status for a possible run for president in 2016.

Below are some of the more brazen - and often profane - comments the FBI recorded:

  • On Nov. 3, a day before the presidential election, Blagojevich was recorded telling someone labeled Deputy Governor A: "if . . . they're not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it."
  • Later on Nov. 3, in a call to someone labeled Advisor A, the governor reiterates his desire to take the open seat: "unless I get something real good for [Senate Candidate 1], [expletive], I'll just send myself, you know what I'm saying."

    He continued: "… if I don't get what I want and I'm not satisfied with it, then I'll just take the Senate seat myself." The Senate seat "is a [expletive] valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."

  • On Nov. 4, Election Day, he was recorded telling his chief of staff, John Harris, who was also arrested in the alleged "pay for play" scheme, of the potential Senate seat negotiation: "…it is not coming for free…It's got to be good stuff for the people of Illinois and good for me."
  • Nov. 5, with the election of Barack Obama, Blagojevich told Advisor A of his situation: "I've got this thing and it's [expletive] golden, and, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I'm not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there."

    Read The Criminal Complaint Against Blagojevich
    Statement From The Department Of Justice
  • After almost a week of taped conversations showing Blagojevich to be concerned about his family's financial well-being, on Nov. 11, he lashed out at the President-elect in a recorded talk with Harris: "They're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [expletive] them."
  • As talks heated up throughout November, on Dec. 4, Blagojevich allegedly spoke to someone labeled Advisor B about a person named Senate Candidate 5: "We were approached 'pay to play.' That, you know, he'd raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (Senate Candidate 5) a Senator."

    Later that day, Blagojevich was recorded saying he had "elevated" Senate Candidate 5 on the list for the open seat. In a conversation with someone labeled Fundraiser A, the governor said of the negotiations with Senate Candidate 5 that "you gotta be careful how you express that and assume everybody's listening, the whole world is listening. You hear me?"