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Blagojevich: “Thousands” of Phone Calls, Numerous Witnesses; Burris: Senate Opposition Fierce, Reid Conflict of Interest

From, we may now know why US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald asked for a 90-day extension (via Chicago Sun-Times):

Prosecutors revealed Wednesday that they captured “thousands of phone calls” on secret wiretaps in their investigation into Gov. Blagojevich.

The disclosure came in a government filing in which prosecutors asked for a 90-day extension to indict Blagojevich and his former chief of staff, John Harris.

The filing also revealed that the government has additional targets in its ongoing probe and that the governor’s Dec. 9 arrest spurred more witnesses to talk to prosecutors. “Multiple witnesses have come forward in recent weeks to discuss their knowledge of criminal activity,” the filing states.

Thousands of phone calls were captured between October and December, but just four of them will be the subject of a hearing Monday in federal court. …

Prosecutors have 30 days to indict in order for the case to move forward to trial, but requests for extensions are common. The defense did not oppose the extension request.

Another Sun-Times article relates the fierce opposition to Roland Burris’ Senate appointment

WASHINGTON — Roland Burris does not want to be in the face of the senators whose ranks he hopes to join, I am told. Yet Burris, appointed by the scandalized Gov. Blagojevich to replace President-elect Barack Obama, is expected here Monday. Burris’ mere presence to try to claim the seat will, of course, be a spectacle.

He won’t get into the chamber because the Senate Democratic leadership doesn’t want anyone sent by Blagojevich, accused of trying to sell Obama’s seat for a plum job or campaign cash.

Here’s what I’ve learned New Years Day:

I think Burris is underestimating how hard the Senate Democratic leaders are resisting his appointment. No one doubts that Burris is eligible to serve. No one is going to challenge Blagojevich’s power to make the appointment. But they won’t make it easy.

The new Congress will be sworn in Tuesday. Burris will arrive with no floor privileges because Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White will not certify his appointment. The Senate will likely refer the matter to the Rules Committee, where it will be handled as s-l-o-w-l-y as possible. For example, the rules panel will require a very, very, very complete investigation to make sure the appointment is stain-free.

While the Senate Democrats are slow-walking, they want the Illinois House to fast-walk the Blagojevich impeachment proceedings, and then have a swift state Senate trial, conviction, and installation of Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn as governor. Quinn then can make the pick, preferably a Democrat with an excellent chance of winning either a special election or the 2010 contest.

Given Burris’ string of statewide defeats for senator and governor, he does not fit that profile.

Burris has unrealistic hopes of getting assistance from Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate leader. If he thinks Durbin is going to escort him into the chamber — he will not. Durbin called Burris twice to discuss the situation, but Burris never got the messages because he hasn’t got his cell phone thing down. …

The WashingtonPost talks about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) apparent conflict of interest in all of this:

CHICAGO, Jan. 3 — Illinois’s embattled governor said through his spokesman Saturday that  Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has a conflict of interest regarding the Senate seat being vacated by President-elect  Barack Obama.

Reid telephoned Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) in early December to discuss the seat, said Lucio Guerrero, a gubernatorial spokesman. Guerrero said he did not know firsthand which candidates Reid supported during the call, but added that he knows Reid’s candidates did not include Roland W. Burris, the man Blagojevich picked. …

“I think the governor believes there is a conflict of interest — that Reid showed he has a horse in the race and Roland Burris wasn’t one of them,” Guerrero said. …

[Reid spokesman] Manley declined to name the candidates whom the men discussed Dec. 3, saying there was “no need to embarrass the people that were subject of the conversation.”



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