Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich erupted in profanity when he learned in 2008 that President Barack Obama was not willing to offer a plum job such as a cabinet post in return for an appointment to Obama's Senate seat, according to trial testimony on Wednesday.
Soon after Obama was elected President, he sent a message through his soon-to-be chief of staff Rahm Emanuel that he would be "thankful and appreciative" if Blagojevich appointed Obama friend Valerie Jarrett to the Senate, according to testimony and FBI recordings of conversations. Jarrett now is an aide to Obama at the White House.
Blagojevich, who was serving his second term as governor of Illinois before he was arrested and impeached, erupted angrily when his chief of staff, John Harris, delivered the message in a phone call on November 11 2008.
"They're not willing to give me anything but appreciation? F*** em," Blagojevich says in a telephone call recorded by the FBI and played at his second corruption trial on Wednesday.
Before that call, Blagojevich had sent his own message to the Obama camp. He wanted a cabinet post in exchange for the Jarrett appointment, according to testimony.
Blagojevich also floated other ideas with top aides, including that he be appointed an ambassador or that he be appointed to head a political action committee, "Change to Win," which was associated with the Services Employees International Union, according to the recordings and the testimony of Harris. Blagojevich's former top aide was on the witness stand for the second day in a row Wednesday.
Harris testified that Blagojevich took the message from Obama as a sign that he would not be getting a cabinet post. So he changed gears, Harris testified.
He wanted Obama's wealthy friends, including legendary investor Warren Buffet and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, to cough up millions of dollars to set up a not-for-profit foundation which he could head. Blagojevich wanted a large salary, according to Harris and the recordings of his conversations with the Blagojevich during the first two weeks of November 2008.
Blagojevich is on trial for the second time on 20 counts, including bribery, extortion, conspiracy and wire fraud. Prosecutors allege that he tried to trade the Senate seat for a Cabinet post or campaign donations, and tried to leverage donations or favors for other official acts.
His first trial ended in August with the jury convicting him of a single count of lying to federal investigators. The jury deadlocked on the more serious counts.