*In a 2008 conversation secretly recorded by the FBI, former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was heard suggesting that Oprah Winfrey should be on a list of people under consideration to fill Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat.
“She’s a king-maker. She made Obama,” Blagojevich told his then-chief of staff John Harris in the tapes played for a jury Monday.
Blagojevich concedes that the queen of talk would most likely never take the job, but he tells Harris the idea is “not far fetched.”
“She’s up there so high that no one can assail this pick. This would be huge. There’s nothing affirmative action about her.”
“That’s crazy,” Harris replies.
“That’s where you’re wrong,” Blago shoots back.
The former Illinois governor, accused of trying to sell the seat to the highest bidder, is facing 24 charges of corruption, racketeering, bribery and fraud in what prosecutors have called a “political corruption crime spree” which allegedly began before he took office in 2003.
During the weeks-long trial, prosecutors have played scores of tapes from the secret recordings which began in late October 2008 and continued until his December 9, 2008 arrest. Blagojevich was booted from office by an outraged legislature the following month, but not before he appointed Roland Burris — the first African-American to be elected to a statewide office in Illinois — to the empty seat.
Jurors have heard Blagojevich discuss a host of perks he hoped to received — like an ambassadorship or a lucrative job working for a charity — due to the fact that he was tasked with the job of picking Obama’s replacement.
Blagojevich has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence and defense lawyers told jurors at the beginning of trial that the former governor didn’t “take a dime.”