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Inherit The Windbag: "Prince Of Darkness" Calls Out Obama

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jun 24, 2010 2:20PM

Wednesday was yet another day on the stand for Rod Blagojevich's former Chief-of-Staff John Harris, who referred to himself as Blago's "Prince of Darkness," and while Tuesday's talk centered around then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat, yesterday's chat continued that but took aim at Obama himself, including accusations that Obama knew Blago was trying to leverage the seat for a cabinet post. The day started off with more of the Blago Tapes, including one from the day after the election in which Blago was hoping to be appointed to the head of a charitable agency a la Elizabeth Dole (though Rod himself seemed to know little about the varying agencies). There was also more talk of Blago's pressure on the Tribune's editorial board as well as prep for a meeting with union leader Tom Balanoff; Blago believed Balanoff was a messenger that would relay Obama's preference for his replacement (Valerie Jarrett) and vice-versa.

The jurors then got to hear a bit of marital strife between Rod and Patti, specifically a profanity-laced phone call in which the two argue over potential future jobs. Natasha Korecki summarizes on her blog at the Sun-Times:

Patti Blagojevich is Googling salary information and tells him she can't find any salaries on their Web site. Rod Blagojevich tells her not to worry about salaries "we'll negotiate that." He goes on to say that he'll ask for a four-year contract for $1 million a year "or whatever...$750...something good."

She keeps looking and that's when he snaps.

"You're just wasting f------ time. We're making it up. We're saying this is what I want...this is the deal."

The then-Illinois governor gets really ticked at his wife and tells her she's "talking weird."

By the call's end he admits: "I gotta stop swearing."

Another tape played Blago cracking wise about marital situations, comparing his to Obama's as he and Harris considered going to Michelle with a potential deal: “He’s a lot more hen-pecked than me. He listens to Michelle.”

The day continued with more talk of Blago trying to position himself for a role in Obama's Dept. of Health and Human Services, including Harris testifying that he believed Obama knew that was what Blago wanted: "(Blagojevich) feels very confident that the president understands that the governor would be willing to make the appointment of Valerie Jarrett as long as he gets what he's asked for. The governor gets the cabinet appointment he's asked for." Money was also high on Blago's list as he says in one call, "I want to make money ... you know. I might as well go out and find a way to make money." Blago also lamented Obama's success, pondering that it would block his own path to a higher position.

Before the end of the day, Harris also touched on how he got the "Prince of Darkness" nickname from Blago as he always played Devil's Advocate for Blago's ideas and schemes.

Harris said he gradually came to realize that Blagojevich needed him as a sounding board because so many of his top advisers were no longer around. Fundraisers Christopher Kelly and Anton “Tony” Rezko were under a legal cloud and out of the picture, Harris explained. Meanwhile, two other longtime advisers to Blagojevich, former chief of staff Alonzo “Lon” Monk and lobbyist John Wyma, were “avoiding the governor,” Harris explained.

At some point, Harris said, he reached this compromise with himself: He would try to stop Blagojevich from doing something silly only if he thought the governor would end up doing “immediate harm” to his reputation, political fortune or relations with people.

“If I could see no immediate harm, I would let it go,” explained Harris. “There were only so many arrows I could absorb.”

All of the talk of Obama and what he may or may not have known led the defense to file a request to look at Obama's discussion with FBI agents in December 2008 regarding the Blago allegations. For his part, Obama has flatly denied ever having contact with Blago in regards to the Senate seat.

The day ended with Blago in a great mood because Judge Zagel refused to issue a gag order.

Blagojevich Leaves Courthouse, June 23, 2010 from Chicago News Cooperative on Vimeo.