We mention Blago because the federal prosecutor who handled his trial, Patrick Fitzgerald, just landed a spiffy partnership at a white-shoe Chicago law firm counting among its senior partners our president’s first White House Counsel…
It’s business as usual in Chicago. After protecting President Barack Obama from criminal liability for hiscorrupt relationship with convicted political fixer Tony Rezko, former Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has been rewarded with a partnership in the Chicago office of New York-based law firm giant Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. The firm counts among its partners, Greg Craig, Obama’s first White House Counsel, who had to help navigate Obama through Fitzgerald’s investigation of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s attempt to sell Obama’s Senate seat, from which he resigned shortly after being elected President but before he was sworn into office.
This has all the hallmarks of a political payoff, including the convenient timing of the partnership – less than a week before the election, which is enough distance from the Blago trial and under the radar enough that it won’t blast out onto the scene in such a way that it would affect the vote, but not AFTER the election whereby it would smack of a Marc Rich-pardon style remuneration for keeping the Blago affair away from Obama’s doorstep.
Fitzgerald, it might be remembered, isn’t just famous for the Blago trial. Fitzgerald was the special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame case, in which no underlying crime was committed but Scooter Libby, an assistant to then-Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted for essentially having a different recollection of what he told a reporter than the reporter had. A more egregious case of prosecutorial abuse we’ve seldom had. But in the Blago case, Fitzgerald’s curiosity was remarkably constrained – he had no apparent interest in finding out whether the senator whose seat was being sold was involved in the selling of it from one of that senator’s friends to another.
But there is more dirt behind this story…
Interestingly, Skadden Arps represented The Tribune Company, the parent company of the Chicago Tribune, in a transaction that took the company private in 2007. Gov. Blagojevich was caught on wire-tapped phone conversations discussing an attempt to shake down The Tribune Company’s CEO Sam Zell for campaign contributions in exchange for his help in providing public financing for Wrigley Field, to aid the company in the sale of the Chicago Cubs baseball franchise to the Ricketts family. Fitzgerald has recently come under criticism after two reporters for the Chicago Tribune, who broke the story about Fitzgerald’s office wiretapping Blagojevich’s phone conversations, revealed in a new book that Fitzgerald is the one who tipped off the Tribune’s reporters of the wiretaps before Blagojevich could complete a deal on the sale of the Senate seat. Fitzgerald’s office closely protected potentially damaging phone conversations Blagojevich had with Obama and Rahm Emanuel discussing Obama’s replacement in the Senate.
Skadden Arps’ Greg Craig was the Obama White House transition attorney who conducted the investigation of the Obama campaign’s discussion of the Senate seat with Blagojevich and prepared a whitewashed report that cleared Obama, Emanual, Valerie Jarrett and others close to Obama. Fitzgerald’s investigators dismissed Blagojevich’s claim that Rezko had given at least $25,000 cash to Obama when he ran for the Senate just like it ignored Rezko’s financial role in helping the Obama’s purchase their southside mansion.
The sleaze of Chicago stretches to Washington and back, doesn’t it?