If there’s one thing the Obama administration doesn’t need today, it’s for the Rod Blagojevich trial to get underway. And yet the White House Communications Office doesn’t have any say in scheduling federal trials, so a judge began questioning potential jurors this afternoon, kicking off a selection process that will likely last several days.
Unable to resist the oh-so-juicy “What will this mean for Obama?” angle, reporters covering the Blago trial have speculated that the proceedings might unearth unsavory details about members of the president’s administration. For example, Reuters reports:
"Another possible wild card in Blagojevich's long-awaited trial that begins on Thursday is whether it will entangle Obama and his aides in Illinois' hurly-burly political theater.
"The trial, which is expected to last up to four months, may expose discrepancies in how members of Obama's future administration characterized its contacts with Blagojevich after the November 2008 election."
Of course, it remains to be seen whether such discrepancies will actually surface, or even if they exist at all. If they do, the president could find himself sorting through a serious scandal. But even if the administration emerges from the proceedings spick-and-span, Blago’s trial is still bad news for Obama.
With Joe Sestak and now Andrew Romanoff both claiming that Obama offered them jobs in exchange for dropping out of Democratic Senate primaries, the president is increasingly being accused of shady, dare we say, “Chicago style” politics. The Daily Beast led this morning with the headline “Obama's Backdoor Deals?” and Republican Rep. Darrell Issa has called the job offers criminal and “impeachable.” In reality, it would be a long shot to prove that anything illegal occurred, but generally speaking, people don’t like the idea of secret political deals interfering with the election process.
Enter Rod Blagojevich.
Of course, Blago has been charged with far more serious crimes and abuses of power, but now that he’s back in the spotlight, his relationship with Obama (the ex-governor is charged with trying to sell the president’s vacant Senate seat), as well as their shared background in Illinois’s infamous political world, will not be overlooked by the GOP or the media.