Blago: Emanuel a 'co-conspirator'

In an impassioned speech before the Illinois Senate Thursday, Democrat Governor Rod Blagojevich placed responsibility for one key impeachment charge just a door away from the Oval Office. Blagojevich said before the Senate vote that, if he's impeached, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel should be a "co-conspirator." 

"If you're impeaching me," Blagojevich told lawmakers," ... let's demand that President Obama fire Rahm Emanuel, because Rahm Emanuel is the one who gave me this idea."

Blagojevich was referring to a charge based upon the I-SaveRx Program, an effort to import prescription drugs from Canada. He reminded lawmakers of concerns that senior citizens have about being able to afford both food and medicine.

"How many of us talked about those things in speeches? How many of us who were familiar with how Congress operates actually had talking points from the Democratic National Campaign Committee and they had that line: Food or medicine, food or medicine? How many of us said all that? And how many of us kept railing against the FDA because they wouldn't allow ... American seniors to go to Canada and get the same prescription drugs, the same medicines made by the exact same companies... for forty to fifty per cent less?"

Blagojevich insisted that the controversial program for which he was being impeached was the brainchild of Emanuel, who inherited Blagojevich's congressional seat before being named Obama's Chief of Staff.

"So we found a way, and I was the first governor to do it. The idea came to me, not from me, but from then-Congressman, Rahm Emanuel. ... 

(He) said why don't you lead the charge, lead the way on this and be the first state to go to Canada and test whether the FDA will allow you to do it or not."

A contention corroborated by some in the media, including Lynn Sweet in the Chicago Sun Times:

"Five years ago Gov. Blagojevich wanted to put himself on a presidential track and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) handed him a hot issue that gave him national press exposure, importation of prescription drugs. Now the Blagojevich-Emanuel relationship is in the spotlight in the wake of the governor's arrest last week on corruption charges."

It's not the first time that Emanuel's name has been connected to allegations of wrongdoing by Blagojevich, who himself inherited both Emanuel's former congressional seat (Dan Rostenkowski) and the gubernatorial office (George Ryan)  after his predecessors in both were thrown into jail on corruption charges.

"The (state) House impeachment committee says it will respect (federal prosecutor Patrick) Fitzgerald's insistence that the hearings not compromise the criminal probe, and therefore will not issue subpoenas for Emanuel and another Obama adviser, Valerie Jarrett."
"Emanuel, Jarrett and (Jesse) Jackson(, Jr.) have all been tied to discussions of Blagojevich's alleged attempts to auction off Obama's Senate seat."
"The Chicago Tribune reported that Mr. Emanuel relayed to Mr. Blagojevich's team a list of candidates who would be acceptable to the Obama camp, and that these conversations were captured on a tape possessed by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald." 
Don't expect to hear or see much of Blagojevich's potentially explosive assertions in the legacy media, though. At Thursday afternoon's White House briefing, reporters took note of Blagojevich's live, nationally-televised speech by asking Press Secretary Robert Gibbs exactly zero--zip, nada, nothing--questions about the role the Chief of Staff, potentially the second most powerful person in the White House, may or may not have played in Blago's shenanigans.

Of course, a thorough examination of Emanuel might also shed light on the political cesspool that also produced his new boss.

... Oh, there was one question about controversy back in Obama's hometown. Would, a reporter wanted to know, Obama throw out the first pitch of the season for the White Sox?

Wlliam Tate is an award-winning journalist and author.