Thomas Barton, Investigative Reporter
Chicago Tribune reporters John Chase and Jeff Coen are on-record claiming to have had access to all the Blagojevich wiretap tape recordings that were never made public.
The U.S Attorneys Office has gone on-record claiming that they did not give Chase or Coen access to the Blagojevich wiretap tapes and transcripts.
So, here's what we know for sure:
(1.) The Blagojevich wiretap tapes and transcripts are sealed by a federal protective order signed by Judge James Zagel. The only way to legally obtain them is from the feds.
(2.) Chase and Coen claim to have had accessed the recordings and have offered up a sample of taped conversations that were never made public as proof of possession.
(3.) The U.S. Attorney's Office insists that no one there provided the tapes or transcripts to anyone, including Chase and Coen.
Doesn't that mean Chase and Coen have confessed to being involved in the act of breaking a federal protective order signed by Judge Zagel?
Keep in mind that this isn't the first time Chase has received information as a result of someone acting above federal law. The existence of the federal wiretap made its way to Chase after someone in the Department of Justice broke the law and leaked it to him.
Why did U.S Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald enforce federal law when it involved New York Times reporter Judith Miller, but chose not to enforce federal law when it involved Chicago Tribune reporter John Chase?
Do the Chicago Tribune editors and reporters act with impunity outside of federal law?
And, hey, why are the Chicago and national media ignoring this story?
Does Judith Miller have any thoughts on the subject? We'll ask her.
Ernie Souchak, Editor-in-Cheif, Illinois PayToPlay & Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter
Why are Blago’s attorneys silent in the face of the Tribune’s claim that there’s absolutely nothing, nada, zilch, on the Blago tapes to support their assertion of Blago’s innocence?
How come Blago’s attorneys are not standing outside the U.S. Attorney's Ofiice screaming about how access to the tapes and transcripts was given exclusively to the two Trib reporters?
The two reporters-authors of Golden claim there is nothing on the fed’s wiretaps of Blago’s phone conversations to suggest that Blago is innocent.
Recall that Sam Adam, Jr. was the lead attorney for Blago back in 2009 when Blago’s legal defense team agreed to the protective order dealing with the government’s evidence.
Throughout that episode, we were led to believe that Judge James Zagel restricted Blago and his attorneys from discussing the content of Blago’s phone calls recorded by the feds.
But now we know that wasn’t true and that there was, and still is, absolutely nothing, nada, zilch, preventing Blago and/or his brother, Robert Blagojevich, from talking about the recorded conversations.
On Dec 8, 2011, Sam Adam, Jr. went on the record saying,“I’ve said this from day one, having listened to them – not just talking, having listened to them – I honestly believe in my gut, there is no doubt that this trial would have been different. I honestly believe there is no doubt that this case would have been different, and if I’m wrong, why can’t we hear them now?”
Well, that’s a crystal clear statement. But wait…
The Trib reporters-authors, John chase and Jeff Coen, who’ve now listened to the tapes, have stated, for the record, that there is nothing on them supporting claims of Blago’s innocence.
So, how come Adam isn’t standing outside the Federal Building, wearing a sandwich board reading “Free Blago,” and screaming, "Why the hell can't we hear the tapes - Now?"
And, what’s more, why didn’t Adam call John Chase to testify in Blago’s trial? What’s up with that?
Oh, and by the way, Sam Adam, Jr. has been named as a possible candidate to replace Jesse Jackson, Jr. as part of a pending Jackson plea agreement. But, of course, that would have nothing to do with all this Blago stuff, would it?
Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.
Ernie Souchak, Editor-in-Chief, Illinois PayToPlay
Chicago Tribune reporters John Chase and Jeff Coen, in their recently released book Golden, claim that former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald lied when he said he did not know who was leaking information to the Trib about the Rod Blagojevich investigation being conducted by his office.
Chase and Coen state in their book that, "The newspaper also had information about a planned arrest date and that the investigation had spread to whether Blagojevich had corrupted the process of choosing a new senator to replace Barack Obama."
According to Chase and Coen, the decision to arrest Rod Blagojevich on the morning of December 9th 2008 was made one week earlier by Patrick Fitzgerald.
Coincidentally, his decision was made at the same time Rod Blagojevich was attending the Governor's Conference in Philadelphia with President-elect Obama.
At the very least the media should ask these two questions:
1) Why would Fitzgerald decide to make an arrest a week before making it?
2) Why would Patrick Fitzgerald leak this information to the Chicago Tribune?
"Something rotten in Denmark"
There is another question that the media won’t ask. It concerns a matter that is troublesome to those of us interested in hearing the truth from our government and from the members of the Fourth Estate whose mission is to keep government honest.
Why would Patrick Fitzgerald's office pretend, along with Rod Blagojevich and his lawyers, that the protective order, entered into Court Records on 4-19-2009, prevented Rod Blagojevich from disclosing what was said in the phone conversations recorded by the feds?
Everyone involved in the case U.S.A v. Blagojevich knows that is false. So why spread that false perception? And, why has the media played along with this deception?
A) The protective order was an agreed order, meaning the prosecutor and the defense attorneys agreed to the terms. Judge Zagel did not impose it on Blago, it was self-imposed. Here’s the language:
"Upon the agreement of counsel for the government and counsel of record for the defendant, it is hereby ordered as follows:…"
B) The order did not restrict Rod Blagojevich from discussing his conversations.
Blagojevich was free to recount his conversations from memory, and he was free to speak openly of them.
That the protective order did not restrict him from doing so is clearly evident from entries #9 and #10 of said order. Not only was Blago not restricted, his attorneys agreed to the terms that enable the feds to disseminate whatever information, to whomever, they wish.
9. “The restrictions set forth in the Order do not apply to the United States andnothing in this Order limits the government's use and/or dissemination of these materials.”
10. “The restrictions set forth in this Order do not apply to documents that are in the public record or public domain. In addition, this Order does not apply to any material that defendant obtains from any sources other than the government.”
Why are we being lied to? And why are Rod Blagojevich's lawyers so quiet?
The answers to these questions, and more, are coming soon!