FBI agents on Tuesday arrested Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, and his chief of staff for what a federal prosecutor called a “staggering” level of corruption, including an attempt to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama. (Chicago Tribune)
What the commentators said
“The charges themselves are mind-boggling,” said Scott Johnson in Power Line. (click here for the criminal complaint via the Chicago Tribune) Prosecutors say Blagojevich tried to get a Cabinet position or a lucrative job with a union in exchange for the Senate seat. “Is it really possible that a guy who must have known he was under investigation kept grubbing for money and power this blatantly?”
Everyone in politics had to figure that Blagojevich’s phones and office were tapped, said Josh Marshall in Talking Points Memo. “Even setting aside the primordial level of corruption of trying to sell the senate seat of the President-elect of the United States, I never fail to be amazed at the brazenness and stupidity of some political crooks.”
Illinois legislators are likely to impeach Blagojevich as fast as possible, said Josh Kraushaar in Politico, but he can still make trouble for his party. “Illinois law allows Blagojevich to make an appointment while in jail. While the decision would be a disaster for Democrats politically, no one is ruling out that prospect.”
This must be unpleasant for Obama, said Mary Katherine Ham in The Weekly Standard online. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald stressed that he wasn’t making any allegations “whatsoever” against Obama, and Obama’s team apparently refused to “play ball” to get Obama aide Valerie Jarrett appointed. But Obama and Blagojevich are old allies, so the president-elect should be up front about any contact his team had with the governor.