Blago Tapes: Winfrey a 'kingmaker'

July 21, 2010 8:07:12 AM PDT
On Monday morning, jurors heard secretly recorded conversations in which former governor Rod Blagojevich ponders naming Oprah Winfrey to the U.S. Senate.

Blagojevich is talking to John Harris, his chief of staff, on the FBI tapes about filling the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama. Harris, who is currently testifying in the former governor's corruption trial, is heard telling Blagojevich appointing Winfrey isn't a good idea.

"Yeah thinking about the Oprah thing, I think that's crazy," said Harris.

"Yeah, that's where you're wrong," said Blagojevich.

"No I'm not. Your political instincts are your political instincts. I just think geez, that would be way out there. I don't know what she stands for... except that she is a celebrity," said Harris.

"That's right. She's the kingmaker. She made Obama we know she's a democrat," said Blagojevich.

Blagojevich was also heard talking about Jesse Jackson Junior as a potential candidate because of a possible $1.5 million campaign contribution from Jackson's supporters. Jackson did not endorse Blagojevich in his first run for governor, but the two "buried the hatchet," at a meeting in 2008 in which Jackson handed Blagojevich a binder explaining why Jackson would be a good candidate for senator.

The tape conversations reveal Blagojevich considered Cheryle Jackson "incompetent and a liar" in large part due to a bounced check written for a campaign contribution.

Blagojevich has pleaded not guilty to charges including that he schemed to sell or trade Obama's former seat.

Prosecutors rested just after 11 a.m. Lawyers for the former governor's brother and codefendant, Robert Blagojevich then cross examined Harris. His defense attorney established that Robert was not present for most of the seat discussions and closed by getting Harris to say he thinks Robert was honest and truthful with him. He also said Robert was professional.


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