Some Advice for Gov. Blagojevich

Former Time Magazine Washington Bureau Chief Matt Cooper remembers his adventures with Patrick Fitzgerald in the Scooter Libby-Valerie Plame-Judith Miller case and has some advice for Gov. Blagojevich.

Shorter version: Suck it up, take a deal for under 7 years and go to a camp. Even though federal prison camps are no longer Club Feds, they beat the socks off being behind the walls at a real federal prison, which is what could happen if you go to trial and lose.

Cooper also has some (but not overdone) praise for Fitzgerald and a fairly good take on how it works. His funniest line:

And even if it was inclined to show any mercy, do you think Rahm would sit idly by? He took your seat in the House and you know him well. I don't have to tell you that you're better off dealing with the Crips and Bloods than with a pissed off Rahm.

My only nitpick: Matt takes a slam at drug dealers: [More...]

Even minimum-security facilities like the one I wanted to go to in Cumberland, Maryland, aren't fun. They're crowded, filled with check kiters and drug dealers and other folks you don't want to share a bunk with.

I'd rather have a druggie or a fraudster as my bunkmate than an inmate who worked his way down to a federal prison camp from an FCI (prison) because there's only 6 months left on his armed bank robbery or carjacking conviction. But, maybe that's just me. Other than that, Matt, as always, is a good and funny read.

< Monday Evening Open Thread | Valerie Plame Responds to Karl Rove's Latest Statement >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    I think I might prefer the bank robber, (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by oculus on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 12:37:28 AM EST
    given the widespread violence perpetrated by drug cartels in Mexico of late.

    OK, bank robber or Rahm Emanuel? (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by ruffian on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:44:32 AM EST
    Think I'd have to stick with the bank robber there too.

    I was thinking the same thing (none / 0) (#3)
    by nycstray on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 12:46:31 AM EST
    Do I get to pick my drug dealer?! Even excluding the Mexican cartel, some are pretty brutal.

    I'll take Martha as my cell mate anyday {grin}


    OTOH.... (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:17:18 AM EST
    I've known dealers who would bend over backwards for you...fine salt of the earth human beings.

    Good and bad in every line of work.

    On average, I'd rather bunk with a drug dealer than a banker....at least we'd have something in common to talk about:)


    The real problem is, of course, (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by scribe on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 02:04:08 AM EST
    that as a rule people tend to value and obey advice in direct proportion to the amount they paid for it.

    Free, unsolicited advice - no matter how good - usually gets the back of the hand from the recipient.  After all, if the advice was any good, the guy would be making serious coin from giving it.  He's giving it away.

    To a guy who's alleged to have tried to monetize his power to appoint a Senator, Matt's inclination to give free advice to plead guilty of all things marks him as both unserious and a patsy.  This is particularly where the lawyer you're paying serious money is saying you did nothing wrong.

    So, really, I'd be more inclined to believe Matt's article is not some genuine gift of wisdom freely bestowed, but rather a self-interested exercise in reverse psychology to push Blago to try to gut it out.  Time and Matt need to sell copies and eyeballs looking at ad space and, at a minimum, try to recoup all they spent on defending Matt.  Pushing Blago into digging in his heels gives Time and Matt the biggest gift of all - an almost-certain fountain of future stories to which they can apply their well-learned Clinton Rules of Journalism, which have lain mouldering since the 90s.  All those skills honed chasing Whitewater, blue dresses and all the rest have gone crying for a new target.  The Clinton Global Initiative was a boring, unsexy target.  Corruption Zimbabwe-style involving the new President's acquaintances is far more interesting.

    And this is a particularly valuable gift Blago's given, where Blago is likely (given his voluble, loose-cannon nature) to start making up stories about Obama to give himself something to trade off with prosecutors.  Remember, Linda Tripp didn't have anything to trade until someone trusted her with the knowledge of the blue dress and she traded that to the folks hunting the Clintons, in and out of government.

    I would be surprised (none / 0) (#8)
    by Steve M on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:20:35 AM EST
    if Matt Cooper seriously expects his little piece to have any impact whatsoever on Blagojevich's decisionmaking.  It's not as if one of his aides will be like, "Hey Rod, some columnist has advice for you, you'd better read this."

    I'd also be surprised if Blagojevich's expensive lawyer is telling him privately that he did nothing wrong, although it's certainly part of his job description to say that publicly.  Maybe I don't know much about the practice of criminal law, but it seems to me that you wouldn't want to unduly embolden your client when you may be counseling them to accept a plea deal in the not too distant future.


    Something about how grandiose (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:31:44 AM EST
    Blagojevich is reminds me of the family friend recently diagnosed bipolar.

    borderline personality disorder (none / 0) (#12)
    by Fabian on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 10:11:27 AM EST
    Manic episodes are real.  

    But when you look at people like Blagojevich and Simpson, you see talented people who never doubt themselves, never consider that they might be wrong and that the ills that befall them might be their own fault.  Combine a lot of talent with with loads of (over)confidence and apparent optimism and you end up with people have a certain magnetism to lowly folk who wrestle with doubt and uncertainty constantly.  Since they think they are always right, always have been right and will always continue to be right - they never take risks seriously.  (It doesn't help that they love anyone who strokes their ego and ignore those who raise the red flags.)

    They can be successful for quite a while but usually their habit of assuming that rules and laws only apply to other people tends to catch up eventually.

    The ones who are successful longest are the ones who learn how to spin the right line of BS at the right time.  


    Yeah, that seems right (none / 0) (#17)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 10:40:23 AM EST
    Not that I think that playing armchair shrink is a worthy past time but there is something about the confidence he exudes that is frightening to witness.  I understand the need for and even the usefulness of confidence when addressing challenges, but he continues to smile as he falls sans any integrity from a cliff and that is terrifying to watch because his "confidence" has obviously been mistaken for charisma and leadership by voters and I'm a voter :)

    That "Hey, I'm great!" attitude (none / 0) (#19)
    by Fabian on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 11:06:10 AM EST
    is superficial but catchy.  There are people with charisma who really are People Persons, and then there are the slick BS artists who can get you to believe in them just long enough.

    As THE Hacker says on CyberChase "Believe in myself?  Believe in myself?  That's the ONLY thing I believe in!".


    I just sat down (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by eric on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 10:36:04 AM EST
    and finally read the Complaint in this case.  While the Affidavit has lots of stuff about the Senate appointment issue, it does not appear to form the basis of the actual criminal charges.  There are two counts and they seem to relate to 1)general corruption going way back, and 2)firing the Chicago Tribune editorial board.

    There was a lot of "talk" about getting something of value for the Senate seat, but nothing was really done.  I wonder if the prosecutors pulled the plug before he could do anything with the Senate seat.  They clearly had enough on him before.

    Hm (none / 0) (#18)
    by Steve M on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 10:48:31 AM EST
    in other words, no overt act with respect to the Senate seat?

    It's interesting that the timing of the indictment seems to have been driven by political concerns, which is to say, they decided to drop the hammer because Blagojevich was just about to engage in corrupt political acts that ought to be stopped.  While I don't disagree with their judgment, it's certainly not the typical situation.

    That said, I understand the need of the prosecution to explain to the public why they acted at this particular time, but if there's really nothing about the Senate seat in the charges then they've definitely gone a little overboard in selling that aspect of the story.  I mean, everyone in America now believes the guy was arrested for trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat.

    Now, given the time-sensitivity of the arrest, is it possible the charges could be amended at a later date to make the Senate seat an issue, or is it already clear that that's not going to be part of the case?  My ignorance regarding criminal procedure is showing.


    Well, as conspiracy (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by eric on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 11:22:27 AM EST
    charges go, all Blago needed to do was talk to Harris about getting a bribe for the seat, and there is your overt act.  That does seem to have happened.  Conspiracies are pretty easy to get into.

    With that being said, it just doesn't seem like the Senate stuff was nearly as solid as the other stuff.  I think that you are correct that there was a sense of political timing here.


    Yes, the case (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by KeysDan on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 12:38:24 PM EST
    did not seem to be quite ripe with respect to the senate vacancy. The complaint, however, does describe the devastating plotting and planning between Blagojevich and Harris, along with the various feelers, bidding and leveraging for political and/or personal gain for Blagojevich or his wife, Patti. The rush does seem to be intended to thwart the appointment of a senate replacement in the face of the corruptive process seemingly underway.  The court order for the wiretap for the first thirty days of the political office/conference room came prior to the November 8 election, and on the heels of the Tribune shakedown attempt; the second thirty day wiretap was expanded to his home phones. It seems that the senate vacancy conversations were picked up in the sweep. While certainly more of a fan of Jesse Jackson, Sr (a progressive who toiled in the vinyards when that was not an easy task)  than Jr. (who left scars with his over-zealous advocacy during the campaign and needlessly maligned the Cllintons personally) it is not clear from the wiretaps that "candidate 5" really planned to do what Blago thought. In fact, Blogo, distrusted the pledge and wanted to see something up front.

    I think Fitzgerald rightly (none / 0) (#22)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 12:03:33 PM EST
    wanted to preempt Blago actually appointing someone to the Senate seat because whoever it was would ultimately be badly tainted when all this came out, whether they were directly and explicitly implicated in it or not.

    It really does sound like Fitz acted immediately after Blago and JJJr. had their meeting to discuss the Senate appointment Monday afternoon, and my guess would sure be that either he had that meeting taped or subsequent phone calls/meetings between Blago and aides saying he was going to appoint JJJr. and needed to grab Blago before he did that.


    my advice: (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 12:45:49 AM EST
    don't bend over in the shower.

    My advice, on the other hand (5.00 / 5) (#13)
    by Peter G on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 10:14:34 AM EST
    ... is: Don't treat sexual assault as a joke.  Ever. Under any circumstances.  To actually learn something, you could read about and get involved with Just Detention International (formerly known as Stop Prisoner Rape.

    Blogajevich might want to talk (none / 0) (#5)
    by Fabian on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:30:49 AM EST
    to a current white collar inmate, Tom Noe(R).  Tom took a plea deal specifically to save his wife.  So how was Club Fed treating him?

    Here's one report.

    But instead of getting settled into the kind of low-security Club Fed the Noe family expected, Bernadette now reports that Tom is "in the hole," locked up in solitary confinement in a South Carolina prison.

    This is the guy who helped to win Ohio for Bush.  (Along with Blackwell [spits] who is now competing for the RNC chairmanship.)

    Advice and Dan Webb of Winston & Strawn (none / 0) (#7)
    by barryluda on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:19:10 AM EST
    I tend to agree with scribe that people discount, or even reject, unsolicited free advice.  But I do think Blagojevich will listen to his lawyer.

    Any idea who he's retained? Maybe Dan Webb at Winston & Strawn?

    Webb, of course, represented disgraced former Illinois Governor George Ryan.  He also already represented  Illinois power broker, William Cellini in a case accusing Mr. Cellini of pressuring a firm seeking to do business with the state for a $1.5 million campaign contribution to Governor Rod Blagojevich.

    Of course, while most people would take the advice of their lawyer -- and I think, in this case, it'll likely be similar to Matt Cooper's advice -- Blagojevich isn't most people.  Here's a guy who knew he was under investigation yet still tried to sell the appointment of a senate seat vacated by the most watched person in the world.  What an idiot!

    ethics question (none / 0) (#15)
    by txpublicdefender on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 10:33:49 AM EST
    I'm not sure of all the overlap, but if Webb represented Cellini, it might end up being a conflict to represent Blagojevich.  I can't imagine Blago doesn't have a good criminal defense lawyer already hired.

    asdf (none / 0) (#24)
    by wystler on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 02:23:53 PM EST
    Shel Sorosky. Chicago CrimDef guy with pretty decent chops.

    (Webb might be seen as conflicted, given his retainer from Cellini.)


    re blaggojevich (none / 0) (#9)
    by coolpolitealex on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:29:37 AM EST
    He is not in jail yet ,not being American i'm surprised that America is so shocked,"what corruption in the state of ILLINOIS as if there is shock horror gasp" naw" don't believe it. Well my American friends that the problem with our system,Democracy,it's a spent force in our modern world ,the minority are never in the majority. So on it will go untill we find a better system

    LOL: (none / 0) (#20)
    by ChiTownDenny on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 11:14:38 AM EST
    "My only nitpick: Matt takes a slam at drug dealers"...HA!