Rezko Trial: Day Two

Jury selection continues in the Anton Rezko jury trial in Chicago.

Here is the witness list. Barack Obama's name is not on the list. This is not surprising, as I wrote yesterday. And, in fact, today Rezko's lawyers denied they intend to call Obama.

Obama does have someone in the courtroom taking notes.

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    I wonder if Obama campaign (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 11:19:10 AM EST
    is ordering the daily reporter transcripts.

    Fascinating (none / 0) (#2)
    by Stellaaa on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 11:25:37 AM EST
    Obama's centerpiece legislation was an ethics law for Illinois.  I guess the law did not catch on.

     What I wanted to clarify and looking for info, this is a corruption case specifically from the Feds.  I am sure there are other cases with the defaults and bankruptcies.  I am curious if the Feds through IRS will pursue the Tax Credit defaults and if Chicago will also pursue for losing millions in housing loans.  

    Even if Rezko is cleared on this, there is loads of other stuff in the wings.  

    Speculation (none / 0) (#3)
    by 1jane on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 11:39:48 AM EST
    The trial is just getting underway. The "political" aspect of the trial is unknown.
    Pre-judgement precludes American law that the person is presumed innocent unless proven other wise.

    This is a criminal defense site (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 11:42:07 AM EST
    that views legal proceedings through the lens of the accused. Please don't lecture here or insinuate this trial will be covered differently. Take it elsewhere.

    So you're saying (5.00 / 0) (#23)
    by flyerhawk on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:29:32 PM EST
    that any posts in this thread that take political shots at Obama will be deemed OT?

    So far it seems that virtually every post here deals with Obama which isn't exactly in line with the spirit of viewing legal proceedings through the lens of the accused since Obama isn't being accused of anything.


    nice try (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:34:52 PM EST
    This is a Rezko trial thread and whether warranted or not, Obama's name is linked to it in the media coverage of it.

    This is a thread for all matters Rezko related today.


    It's fine (5.00 / 0) (#29)
    by flyerhawk on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:39:59 PM EST
    if people want to mention Obama.  

    But if this is just an open thread to talk about Obama's political problems because of Rezko then say so.


    Last answer (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:44:33 PM EST
    It's a thread about Rezko's trial and Obama is connected to it. No one is saying Obama did anything wrong. He has criticized his own judgment in his relations with Rezko and the media is discussing it.  There's a reference to Obama in the Indictment, as receiving political contributions allegedly tainted through an illegal finders' fee scheme.

    End of discussion. Sorry you don't get it.


    No lecture or insinuation -- just a question (none / 0) (#8)
    by po on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 11:53:06 AM EST
    Who do you view as the accused:  Rezko, Obama or both?

    obama? (none / 0) (#10)
    by mindfulmission on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 11:56:58 AM EST
    How is Obama being accused of anything?

    The only people accusing Obama of anything are the hard core Clinton supporters.

    There is NO evidence against Obama.

    This case is clearly about Rezco, and he clearly is the one being accused of wrong doing, not Obama.


    Obama claims to have "good judgment" (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by Josey on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:18:02 PM EST
    simply because he wasn't in a position to cast a vote on Iraq authorization.
    Apparently, that "good judgment" was BEFORE he was elected to the Senate - because AFTER he was elected, he involved Rezko in a house deal, KNOWING he was a target of a federal investigation.
    And then 6 months later, Obama came back for more - in another transaction involving the Rezkos.

    Rezko is clearly the accused (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 11:57:46 AM EST
    Unfortunately the press seems to think (none / 0) (#17)
    by Florida Resident on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:15:16 PM EST
    otherwise, or so it would seem from the headlines.

    This happens (none / 0) (#22)
    by Edgar08 on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:28:39 PM EST
    It's not Obama's fault, but it's there.

    Newbie on site (none / 0) (#7)
    by sidgoldman on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 11:51:41 AM EST
    Thanks 4 the info

    ok, welcome but please read the comment rules (none / 0) (#16)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:13:01 PM EST
    How long does it take to pick a jury? (none / 0) (#13)
    by DaleA on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:02:22 PM EST
    Does the trial start immediately once a jury is seated?

    jury selection will be finished (none / 0) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:10:05 PM EST
    late today or tomorrow, then opening arguments.

    Jeralyn, do you have any (none / 0) (#15)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:12:25 PM EST
    information as to whether the judge is permitting lap tops in the courtoom while the court is in session?  If so, do you have any information anyone is "live blogging" the proceedings?  

    the court order says no laptops (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:19:48 PM EST
    in the courtroom. The overflow courtroom may have them though. From the Judge's order:
    • No electronic devices will be allowed in the courtroom, including cell phones, pagers, and

    • Law enforcement agents and attorneys on the case are permitted to bring cell phones and
      pagers into the courtroom, but they must turn them off before entering the courtroom.

    • Photographing and video or audio recording or transmission of court proceedings is prohibited.

    • No beverages or food (other than water at counsel table or the witness stand) are allowed
      in the courtroom.

    • No conversations or disruptive gestures are permitted in the courtroom.

    • No interviews are permitted in the courtroom.
    • The jury trial begins at 9:30 a.m. sharp Monday through Thursday. All spectators must be seated before trial begins.

    • During the trial, the first bench behind the government's table is reserved for the government. The first bench behind the defendant's table is reserved for the defendant's legal team.

    Thanks. Another question. Any (none / 0) (#25)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:37:49 PM EST
    information on the composition of the jury panel (male, female, age, apparent ethnic background, etc.).

    thank god the judge has the sense (none / 0) (#48)
    by Kathy on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:07:38 PM EST
    not to turn this into a media circus.  As slow as the news cycles have been lately, I could see them jumping into this with both feet and figuring out the facts of the matter later.

    prosecution witnesses (none / 0) (#20)
    by p lukasiak on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:20:11 PM EST
    That reads like a list of potential prosecution witnesses, but I'm assuming that the defense witnesses were also read in court yesterday as well...

    And would I be wrong in saying that the defense can add names to their witness list, based on the information that the prosecution presents?  And that there is a separate 'penalty phase' if Rezko is convicted, in which 'character witnesses' can appear?

    Finally, given the nature of this case, what do you think the odds are of Obama's name (either Obama himself, or 'a representative of State Senator Barack Obama) coming up when the 'and who else attended this meeting' questions get asked?

    Wolfson replies (none / 0) (#21)
    by waldenpond on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:25:04 PM EST
    Check out Politico.  It has Wolfson's response to the fact that someone from the Obama camp is taking notes.  (he thinks the Clinton camp could send someone too, they could sit next to each other and compare notes.)

    Good job Wolfson, and good (none / 0) (#27)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:38:39 PM EST
    job HRC campaign for Wolfson addressing this, not Mark Penn.

    How long... (none / 0) (#26)
    by mike in dc on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:37:58 PM EST
    ...is the trial scheduled to last?

    It seems likely to me that this thing will be resolved at some point during the Pennsylvania interval.

    it is expected to last (none / 0) (#34)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:45:06 PM EST
    3 to 4 months.

    That is too long. (none / 0) (#37)
    by Florida Resident on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:46:37 PM EST
    Or not long enough (none / 0) (#43)
    by po on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:50:10 PM EST
    depending on who you're pulling for . . .

    McCain has also a Rezko (none / 0) (#28)
    by timber on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:38:59 PM EST
    Rezco hasnt been explained by Obama or the bloggers.

    Perhaps Obama has changed as he has put forth safeguards into lobbyist ethics into laws but still the Rezco affair is very significant.

    Obama and Rezko met before Obama bought the house--and wanted to help Obama.  So Rezkos wife bought the lot adjacent to Obama and Obama bought a slice of Rezko land for a fence but the lot being too small now for Rezko to  build a house is essentially like a sured empty lot/yard  of Obama worth $500,000.00

    It is very dubious at best.

    I also dont know the timeline but would Rezco get further contracts from Chicago govt to build new housing projects when the previous ones were unhabitable.  Why would Obama have a friend like that?

    More on http://www.hillaryis44.org/

    Wrong. (none / 0) (#46)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:55:08 PM EST
    The Rezkos sold to a business associate the portion of the lot that they did not sell to the Obamas and earned about $50k profit.

    Ms. Rezko was the seller, not (none / 0) (#49)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:08:29 PM EST
    "the Rezkos."  Mr. Rezko is destitute, remember?

    Jus tryin' not to complicate the issue. (none / 0) (#53)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:19:58 PM EST
    Yes, technically, it was Rita Rezko who bought and sold the land, though it doesn't make any real difference w/regard to the Obamas.

    It may matter to the Obamas if the (none / 0) (#54)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:27:08 PM EST
    source of the money Ms. Reko used to purchase the vacant lot was from Auchi, the Iraqi businessman living in London.  I've read that may be the case, as he apparently wired lots of money about that time.  Ms. Rezko doesn't earn a huge amount of money at her job

    From what I read Rita borrowed the money, (none / 0) (#55)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:32:17 PM EST
    from a bank.

    I must admit I'm not up on Auchi. What difference would it make to the Obamas if Rita used Auchi money instead of BofA (for example) money to buy the lot?


    There was both a cash downpayment and a loan (none / 0) (#56)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:45:15 PM EST
    The loan was $500k from Mutual Harvey (a bank) and $125k or so in cash. The question for some is where did she get the cash portion? There reportedly (TimeonLine I think has the details) were large wires from Auchi to Rezko around that time which Rezko said (I believe) were loans. Again, no connection to Obama here.

    I'm with you J, (none / 0) (#57)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:01:13 PM EST
    It makes no real difference to the Obamas whether it was Rita or "the Rezkos" who bought and sold the lot, and it makes no real difference to the Obamas where the money Rita/the Rezkos used to buy the lot came from.

    Unless there's something I'm missing.


    Auchi is another shady character (none / 0) (#59)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:06:32 PM EST
    who I believe was charged with criminal fraud in France but has never been tried on the charges.  Auchi's wiring money to Rezko's lawyer's trust account resulted in Rezko's bail being revoked.

    Are you saying the source of the money (none / 0) (#62)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:18:37 PM EST
    is bad for Obama? If so, how?

    Unless one is convinced Ms. Resko's (none / 0) (#64)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:23:24 PM EST
    purchase of the adjoining lot was entirely a coincidence, where she got the funds to make the purchase may reflect on Obama.  Or maybe not.  

    OK, I guess, maybe to some... (none / 0) (#65)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:38:28 PM EST
    I think they tried to help the Obamas, I think getting involved with the Rezkos makes Obama look bad. But to me, anyway, since apparently the Rezkos' money came from a number of questionable as well as legit sources, from a practical perspective all their money is tainted.

    has anyone found out (none / 0) (#60)
    by Kathy on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:06:39 PM EST
    how she could sell a strip of land on a property that had a lien on it (via the bank mortgage?) or whether or not the Obamas were deeded the strip?

    Is that a serious question? (5.00 / 0) (#63)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:21:43 PM EST
    How many homes, cars, boats, etc., are sold every year that the seller owes the bank money on?

    a boat and a car are a bit different (none / 0) (#66)
    by tree on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:52:57 PM EST
    from a piece of property. No one cuts their car in fifth's and then sells a portion of it. And a home sale is not finalized until the lender has been paid off, or the new owner has assumed the liability for the loan. If the parcel was divided and then a portion sold, that would make the lender's investment worth less, and no lender I know would allow anyone to do that without the loan first being paid off. If that happened here then it is quite odd. Doesn't necessarily reflect on Obama, but its still way odd.

    land and sell pieces of the subdivision every day, untold millions of Americans own homes in subdivisions. It ain't rocket science.

    please do me a favor (none / 0) (#71)
    by Kathy on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 04:28:47 PM EST
    if you have a mortgage on your home: try to sell part of your land without paying off the mortgage and see what happens.  See if you can get a deed.  See if you can get a clear title.

    When you sell your home to someone, during the closing, the first check goes to the bank that holds the mortgage.  Same with your car.  You know those title loan commercials you see on TV?  Give them the title to your paid off car and they give you a loan.  You cannot get the loan unless the car is paid off and you own it free and clear.

    If you are going to subdivide a property on which there is a mortgage, then there should be a paper trail at the bank.

    Why would a bank agree to subdivide a piece of property on which it has a 500K mortgage in a way that makes the property less valuable?


    Are you suggesting Ms. Rezko did something illegal?

    I think the question is... (none / 0) (#67)
    by Maria Garcia on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 03:00:28 PM EST
    ...how did she sell a piece of the land and did the money go to the bank and was the rest refinanced. Not that I really care, but I think it is a different question. She sold a piece of something that had a lien on it so it's different from a car or a boat. But just for the record, my assumption is that it was legally done because otherwise chicago reporters would have probably uncovered an illegality.

    and afaik no one with any credibility is suggestion otherwise.

    It would be some trick to pull the wool over the bank/lienholder's eyes when you subdivide a piece of land the bank/lienholder-holder holds the title to.


    GOP will hit tie all this up (none / 0) (#75)
    by timber on Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 02:32:04 AM EST
    Obama the muslim,  Rezco the Syrian, Auchi the Iraqi businessman--Obama/Osama, Hussein

    Even Perot believed in it.  

    Better rehash this now than later when there will be no time to erase this crap.

    Obama should start explicitly showing flags, and pledging allegiance---just to stop the crap and swiftboating.


    Don't know if this was answered (none / 0) (#30)
    by Saul on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:41:13 PM EST
    but I will ask the following: Why couldn't the prosecution subpoena Obama to appear to make their case against Rezko.

    he has no information to help them (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:49:54 PM EST
    Obama is not implicated in the charges against Rezko.  All he could do is verify that he received donations. They can do that through business and public records and the appropriate campaign personnel.

    This case does not involve Obama's house. It involves corruption charges related to illegal hiring and political donations and money laundering.

    There's no reason for anyone to call Obama as a witness.

    The house issue is not relevant to the trial. It may be relevant to Obama's judgment -- he himself called it "boneheaded" but the house will not come up at trial.

    Rezko's paying for an Obama fundraiser and his alleged direction to others to contribute to Obama's 2004 Senate campaign since he had maxed himself out in donations may come up.


    I have only seen this stated in a couple of places (none / 0) (#50)
    by Kathy on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:09:51 PM EST
    that Rezko was an official part of one of Obama's campaigns--any truth to that?  I couldn't find any mention yesterday, but I didn't look very long.

    Rezko was on Obama's Senatorial (none / 0) (#70)
    by LatinoVoter on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 04:15:16 PM EST
    Finance Committee.



    Rezko (none / 0) (#74)
    by auntmo on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 08:02:23 PM EST
    also  hosted  a number  of  high-finance  fundraisers   at his  mansion  for  Obama's  Senate  campaign.  

    Probably could, although (none / 0) (#33)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:44:35 PM EST
    he would probably move to quash as a sitting U.S. Senator.

    But, Rezko is charged here with soliticing money while he was on a couple of Chicago city government boards.  He asked for money to push city contracts and/or investments toward those donors.  No information Obama had any connection with this activity or could provide any admissible evidence via testimony.  Except that some of the baksheesh may have ended up as campaign contributions to Obama campaign.  


    Which would be a separate matter (none / 0) (#38)
    by flyerhawk on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:47:09 PM EST
    Except that some of the baksheesh may have ended up as campaign contributions to Obama campaign.  

    Assuming that this violated the law, which is highly suspect, it would need to be covered in a different proceeding.


    I have no information that (none / 0) (#44)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:51:14 PM EST
    .any such campaign contributions were illegal as to Rezko making the contributions or Obama campaign accepting them.  My thought is, as Rezko is probably denying he got such kickbacks (since he is going to trial), Fitzpatrick puts on evidence tracing money received by Rezko through its various permutations to Obama campaign

    Probably because there is nothing to ask (none / 0) (#35)
    by Florida Resident on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:45:27 PM EST
    Obama about that has to do with this case.

    Because they need a reason (none / 0) (#36)
    by flyerhawk on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:45:59 PM EST
    If Obama claims he has no involvement in any of the illegal dealings of Rezko and the prosecution agrees he has no involvement, why would he subpoena Obama?

    To follow the money. (none / 0) (#39)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:47:14 PM EST
    FItzgerald (none / 0) (#45)
    by p lukasiak on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:53:41 PM EST
    This is a trial out of Patrick Fitzgerald's office -- and as with the Libby trial, don't expect any attempt by the prosecution to showboat in this case.  The prosecution will stick to the relevant facts, and assiduously avoid any appearance of attempting to politicize the case.

    Because maybe (none / 0) (#40)
    by po on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:49:04 PM EST
    besides being a state and US senator and current presidential candidate, there's not much there to tie him to anything Rezko is accused of doing.  Sort of like Whitewater back in the day or something equally ridiculous.  Nice distraction and a simple way to get Obama's name attached to something less than savory so as to tarnish some of the luster from his cloud of silvery lining.

    but then again you gotta what your neighbors.


    To the best of my. . . (none / 0) (#41)
    by LarryInNYC on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 12:49:13 PM EST
    admittedly limited knowledge, nothing in the indictment even hints at any knowledge on Obama's part of any illegal activities.

    Are there not state agencies (none / 0) (#47)
    by DaleA on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:00:55 PM EST
    involved in this matter? Saw a reference to teachers retirement fund and health care facilities planning agency. Both of these look to be run by the state not city of Chicago.

    In investing the funds they control, state agencies are open to endorsements and suggestions from sitting state senators.


    Pure speculation, at present; although (none / 0) (#51)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:10:42 PM EST
    Obama has apparently not released records of communications he has made on behalf of Rezko or people conncected with Rezko.  

    that's a very thin connection (none / 0) (#52)
    by Kathy on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:14:21 PM EST
    Look at what happened in Alabama--the government had to "find" a witness who actually claimed to have seen/heard the governor holding a check and saying that he was going to give a political favor for it in return.  I also liken this to the atty firings courtesy of Bush & Co.  Politicians do all kinds of favors for folks--Clinton did it, Bush I did it, all of them do it.  It's when it gets brazen that folks cry foul.  You really, really have to step over that line with a lot of people watching before you get nailed on it.

    There are two issues at play here (none / 0) (#58)
    by ChrisO on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:02:12 PM EST
    the actual Rezko case, which Jeralyn is rightly addressing as a criminal trial that has now become of national interest, and Obama's relationship to Rezko. I have to say, as a dedicated Hillary supporter, that I'm uncomfortable with the tone of some of Wolfson's statements. I think it's fair to inmsist that Obama has to address this all now, and that if he's the nominee his supporters won't be able to make this all go away by blaming McCain the way they blame Clinton. But Wolfson's questions, like "did you ever do any favors for Rezko" will be asked plenty by others. I don't like the Clinton camp hinting that there's a question of Obama somehow being corrupt. We don't need that kind of piling on the potential Dem nominee.

    I don't think it matters much who asks the (none / 0) (#61)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 02:08:40 PM EST
    questions now.  If Obama keeps stonewalling, the press will keep asking and, later, if Obama is the Dem. nominee, so will the Republicans.