“Have you ever arrested a governor before?” he asked.
December 19, 2018 6:44 PM   Subscribe

The Day They Came for Rod Blagojevich: "Our alarms went off at 2 a.m. We put on suits, as did all the other members of the operation who would have contact with the public. We were tired, but it didn’t matter: Our adrenaline was flowing. At 3:25 a.m., the two of us met in the parking lot of the FBI office in west suburban Lisle and headed into the city. We didn’t talk much in the car. We were both quietly contemplating the significance of what was about to happen and thinking about the scenarios that could unfold during the operation. We were arresting Blagojevich at his home. What if a family member got emotional and the scene turned volatile? What if word had gotten out and reporters were camped outside? What if Blagojevich refused to let us in? Would we have to break down the door of the governor?" -- Chicago Magazine with a fascinating narrative from the two FBI agents tasked with arresting Blagojevich.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (35 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow, the FBI were really, really nice to this powerful white man they were arresting.
posted by valkane at 7:02 PM on December 19, 2018 [42 favorites]


My takeaway was, Man, Rod Blagojevich is a literal lunatic. Which I already knew, having followed Illinois politics for many years, but OMG DUDE you're being arrested by the FBI, get a grip, and stop hanging up on them!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:07 PM on December 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


Very interesting reading. I know from my last three years in the Navy (spent at a dot-mil intelligence agency) that for FBI agents with this level of clearance and seniority you need to have the government's official, written permission to publish anything about your work history and investigations. And that the article is checked very carefully, and usually government attorneys and the authors' attorneys have multiple meetings to hammer out all the details before clearance is given.
posted by seasparrow at 7:08 PM on December 19, 2018 [14 favorites]


Wow, the FBI were really, really nice to this powerful white man they were arresting.

I mean, I get where you're coming from, but he does have an armed guard and family present, not to mention they were trying to get him to cooperate. I'd not expect flashbang grenades.
posted by axiom at 7:17 PM on December 19, 2018 [13 favorites]


I figure when you get that important, you think you can hang up on everyone. My fave line was his whole “How’s my hair?” That says so much about the man. I wonder if the hallway jogging and bathroom time was some coke stuff?
posted by valkane at 7:19 PM on December 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


Being that his house was down the street in Ravenswood Manor, Blago was a regular attendee at the Lincoln Square German festivals. It used to be I was the only person booing him from the crowd, but there were many more as his term went on.

Fun fact, also at German-American Fest, Bruce Rauner gave me the stink eye as I booed him during his candidacy appearance. Shitty politics aside, he brought an actual fancy beer stein from home instead of using the glorious plastic ones.
posted by hwyengr at 7:38 PM on December 19, 2018 [14 favorites]


What if a family member got emotional and the scene turned volatile?

What if Blago and his family were black, you mean, Feebee.
posted by mwhybark at 7:53 PM on December 19, 2018 [7 favorites]


Granted, that fucker Blago is a shitheel. But I have xray mind and can tell truths.
posted by mwhybark at 7:55 PM on December 19, 2018


The FBI are also notoriously uh...active about their own PR

The legacy of Hoover is a many tentacled thing
posted by schadenfrau at 7:59 PM on December 19, 2018 [10 favorites]


Very interesting reading. I know from my last three years in the Navy (spent at a dot-mil intelligence agency) that for FBI agents with this level of clearance and seniority you need to have the government's official, written permission to publish anything about your work history and investigations. And that the article is checked very carefully, and usually government attorneys and the authors' attorneys have multiple meetings to hammer out all the details before clearance is given.

And yet somebody within that investigation still leaked the audio recordings of J.B. Pritzker and Blago talking on the phone to Illinois Republicans for them to use in the most recent election.
posted by srboisvert at 8:01 PM on December 19, 2018 [9 favorites]


I did object a little to this bit:
“Have you ever arrested a governor before?” he asked. We found the question so odd that we did not respond.
C'mon, agents! You're in Illinois! Arresting governors is our brand.

Although usually after they're out of office.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:04 PM on December 19, 2018 [30 favorites]


Another fun fact about seeking government clearance to publish about your own participation in high-level events when you were acting in an official capactiy is that one of the guys who shot Osama Bin Laden did not seek the appropriate permission, and now has 6.8 million reasons to regret that decision.
posted by seasparrow at 8:31 PM on December 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


That was interesting, although it definitely did read like a PR piece with the "heroic" FBI (they actually managed to slip that in) leading a highly complex precisely executed multi-agency effort. Still, I place some trust in the little details and the bits about the govenor’s Behavior were interesting?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:46 PM on December 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Wow, the FBI were really, really nice to this powerful white man they were arresting.

Since you’ve decided to go this direction I’m very curious how you think the arrest would have gone differently if it had been a non-white Governor?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:48 PM on December 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


Prepublication review is a thing, but what they are looking for is classified information, specifically. It's not editorial review.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:50 PM on December 19, 2018


A preview of what is to come with the Rezident, I mean President.
posted by metasunday at 9:06 PM on December 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


his secret service agents probably have a pool going
posted by ryanrs at 9:33 PM on December 19, 2018




Prepublication review is a thing, but what they are looking for is classified information, specifically. It's not editorial review.

Yes, that's why I used the more correct terms "clearance" and "permission" in both my comments, and never once wrote the word "review". I will freely admit that I didn't think any reader could imagine this meant editorial oversight, but you have proved me wrong today.
posted by seasparrow at 10:04 PM on December 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


It was pretty embellished and dramatic but I really liked the story of the logistics of arresting a governor.
posted by bendy at 10:38 PM on December 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


It's a dicey situation when one government agency (FBI) wants to arrest a person that another agency (state police) is charged with protecting. It sounds like they planned it well and completed the arrest without unnecessary drama. Well done.
posted by Triplanetary at 12:50 AM on December 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Well, at least they didn't show up at the wrong house, break down the door, and kill his neighbor. It's like they were actually trying, or something.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:55 AM on December 20, 2018 [13 favorites]


I wonder if the hallway jogging and bathroom time was some coke stuff?

I was wondering that as well. It clearly struck the agents as unusual behavior.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:36 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Honestly, that article mostly makes me miss the Golden Nugget.
posted by sldownard at 6:53 AM on December 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


Same, sldownard. I could just literally see myself having a late-night chicken and waffles and all of a sudden all these serious-looking people in navy blue suits come trooping in and are sketching on napkins.

As far as whether Blago was on coke, well, who knows, but it's not as if he didn't have a rep for generally being impulsive and not thinking things through; in fact, IIRC, it was a defense during his trial--his attorney said (in not exactly the same words) that Rod was just generally full of shit and didn't really mean to try and collect bribes and what not.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:12 AM on December 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


"As far as whether Blago was on coke, well, who knows, but it's not as if he didn't have a rep for generally being impulsive and not thinking things through"

I have vivid memories of some of his press conferences where he got a bunch of supporters up on stage with him and then was just absolutely frenetic and making claims relatively divorced from reality about what he was going to do, who was trying to stop him, etc., and not just in a normal politician "puffing up my team, dragging the other guys" way but in a "... does he actually know how making laws works?" way. (Good practice for watching Rauner, I guess.) The more time went by, the more it was like, "This guy is, uh ... not normal." I don't know if he was hopped up on something illegal (or legal), or if that was just a personality issue, but he was only intermittently in touch with consensus reality, and definitely not at all in touch with what normal human interactions looks like.

Side note for your amusement: Blago remains absolutely furious that Obama "stole" Blago's presidency -- he was the rising Illinois star with an "ethnic" background and a funny name who was going to make a democratic run for president, and he spent the years of Obama's ascent trying to kick him down because he could see Obama stealing his spotlight. (Which is part of why Blago went full racist about Obama.) Which may, ironically, have been to Obama's benefit, in that a lot of the semi-shady Chicago machine guys wouldn't deal with Obama, because Blago wouldn't allow it, so Obama is one of the very few politicians to come out of Chicago in recent years without some serious ethical stink on him.

I will never get over how Blago used his very young daughters as physical shields from the press, bringing them to all kinds of inappropriate events relating to his indictment specifically so he could exit carrying one and when the press asked questions about it he'd go, "Hey, not in front of my daughters, guys" and the girls would be crying with fear because of the huge crowds and all the cameras.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:41 AM on December 20, 2018 [11 favorites]


I feel like I've mentioned this before, but I used to occasionally see Blago jogging up Lincoln Ave. with his long-suffering security detail biking along behind him. The man had the goofiest stride--bouncing all over the place, hands flopping everywhere like a Muppet. Occasionally he'd give a jaunty wave to the astonished citizenry.
posted by merriment at 7:46 AM on December 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


It's really a wonder that Blago didn't end up somewhere in the Trump Administration. He seems like the perfect fit.
posted by briank at 8:00 AM on December 20, 2018


He's a Democrat though.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:30 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Grifters stick together. Party labels are just for convenience.
posted by briank at 10:47 AM on December 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


Rob used a napkin to sketch the final staging for the arrest I would have expected there to be hard copy maps with house diagrams for this. A napkin just seems imprecise given the enormity of the task.
posted by Tentacle of Trust at 12:09 PM on December 20, 2018




It’s really a wonder that Blago didn’t end up somewhere in the Trump Administration.

Blagojevich and Trump did cross paths.

From Wikipedia:

Blagojevich appeared on season 9 of The Celebrity Apprentice in Spring 2010, asserting that he has the "skill and know-how to get things accomplished" on the series. Series star and producer Donald Trump praised Blagojevich's "tremendous courage and guts", and predicted that he would become one of the show's breakout stars.[123] Trump subsequently fired Blagojevich in the fourth episode of the season, which aired April 4, 2010
posted by Eikonaut at 1:53 PM on December 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Grifters stick together. Party labels are just for convenience.

Indeed.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:00 PM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Honestly, that article mostly makes me miss the Golden Nugget.

Offtopic, I perv menus, so reviewing their menu, I see that they make their "Patty Melt" with a 1/3 lb burger. With that said, their 1-2-3 Biscuit ( and gravy ) special or their ham steak can easily redeem them.
posted by mikelieman at 2:25 PM on December 20, 2018


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