In the latest recording played at Rod Blagojevich’s trial, a breathless former governor can be heard pumping iron as he discusses his newest idea for Illinois’ next U.S. Senator: Oprah Winfrey.
“I think that’s, that’s crazy,” says then-chief of staff John Harris in the Nov. 21, 2008, secretly-recorded call.
“That’s where you’re wrong,” the then-governor says. “She’s the kingmaker. She made Obama. We know she’s a Democrat. We know she’s for Obama. … This one, she’s so up there, so high, that nobody can assail this pick. This would be huge.”
In reasoning for Winfrey, Blagojevich says he wants to make history by naming the first African American female U.S. senator — apparently forgetting that distinction went to Carol Moseley Braun, an African American from Illinois who was elected in 1992.
“The odds of her actually taking it are f—— slim to none. Who’s going to complain about it?” Blagojevich said. “It’s going to be huge.”
“It would certainly be way out there,” Harris answers.
Blagojevich at one point suggests Harris find various African American candidates.
“Maybe a black Albert Einstein,” Blagojevich said.
At that, one African American juror gently shook her head.
Jesse Jackson Jr. resurfaced in the discussion with Blagojevich referring to the U.S. congressman as an “uber-African American.”
The same juror laughed quietly and placed a hand over her mouth to suppress laughter. The female juror beside her flashed a knowing smile.
Another female juror smiled at her transcript when Blagojevich suggested a Mother Teresa-type should be appointed.
Blagojevich on the call is insistent they “bolster the list” of potential candidates — even if it means looking outside of Illinois.
“I mean Arnold Schwarzenegger, you know what I’m saying?” Blagojevich tells Harris. “Tammy Duckworth is not from Illinois. Obama is not from Illinois”
Harris explains that Obama was an actual Illinois citizen before running for office.
“Picking somebody outside of Illinois has a whole host of problems,” Harris tells him. “[They’ll say], ‘There are 13 million residents [in Illinois], Rod hates them all.’”