From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
Rod Blagojevich's former chief of staff struck a deal with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and implicated his former boss.
"He agreed to cooperate in the federal probe against his former boss in return for a recommended prison term of just under 3 years," Chicago news outlets report, adding, "The guilty plea had long been expected. His attorney has made clear for quite some time that Harris was cooperating with the government's investigation of Blagojevich
and would testify against him."
The plea agreement charges that John Harris, the former chief of staff "participated in a scheme to deprive the people of the State of Illinois of their intangible right to the honest services", that he and Blagojevich "sought to obtain financial benefits for Blagojevich and his wife" in exchange for Barack Obama's Senate seat, that at Blagojevich's direction, he plotted out how to accomplish that, and he advised Blagojevich on the best way to carry it out.
The agreement hangs Blagojevich out on his own, in parts, saying that sometimes Harris expressed opposition to Blagojevich's desire to get something out of the seat and sometimes "did not follow instructions from Blagojevich to assist in those efforts."
Throughout 2008, Blagojevich shopped the seat, according to the agreement. He wanted either money or a job in exchange for appointing a Senate Candidate B (who appears to be Valerie Jarrett) to the seat, according to the document. Specifically, Blagojevich was interested in being Health and Human Services Secretary, getting a job in a private foundation that gets federal funds, an ambassadorship or a post at a union, the agreement alleges.
It also notes that Blagojevich wanted his wife to get a job with an organization that did business with the state and that "When Blagojevich concluded that officials at these institutions had been unhelpful in finding his wife a job, Blagojevich told Defendant that he did not want the institutions to receive further business from the State of Illinois."
In October 2008, the agreement states, that Blagojevich asked what he "could get in exchange for the" seat, but when told he couldn't get money for it, "Blagojevich ignored" that.
It also alleges that Blagojevich told Harris that he asked an SEIU official if could be appointed HHS Secretary in exchange for appointing a Senate Candidate B. Blagojevich also had Harris look into potential ambassadorships or, in particular, a job at a private foundation to "give President-elect Obama a buffer, meaning that it would not be obvious that Blagojevich was getting a position in exchange for making Senate Candidate B the Senator." ...
"Defendant suggested that the foundation would need to be a group that was dependent on federal funding, so that President-elect Obama would have enough influence to get Blagojevich a position. Blagojevich was very interested in this idea and told Defendant to look into options right away. Deputy Governor A asked whether Blagojevich was thinking about a position with a private foundation for 2010 (when his term as Governor ended) or now. Blagojevich said that he wanted the position now and wanted to know how much the position paid. Deputy Governor A responded that the salary was likely $200,000 to $300,000. Blagojevich seemed disappointed in that salary and asked something like, "Oh is that all?" At that point, Defendant said that he thought the salary was more like $300,000 to $500,000. Blagojevich had a more positive reaction to that salary."
Harris suggested he could become national director of Change to Win, a coalition of unions. And the agreement alleges that two SEIU union officials "would act as a buffer between President-elect Obama and Blagojevich."
And: "Defendant explained to Blagojevich that part of the advantage to the Change to Win idea was that this was something that SEIU Officials A and B could promise to Blagojevich now and Blagojevich could believe that they would follow through on later, while part of the disadvantage to the Change to Win idea was that it was not politically acceptable for Blagojevich to step down as Governor to take that position. In response, Blagojevich suggested the possibility of having his wife take a position now and then Blagojevich could take the national position later."
And it indicates that Blagojevich believed that Senate Candidate A, identified previously as Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., would raise $1.5 million "in campaign funds for Blagojevich in exchange for the U.S. Senate appointment."