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How Karl Rove Almost Saved Blagojevich’s Bacon

Hastert, Rove, Kjellander

Hastert, Rove, Kjellander

You’d think that with Patrick Fitzgerald having been busy investigating the Rezko-connected corruption alleged against Illinois Governor Ron Blagojevich, that Blago would have been doing everything he could to get Fitzy pulled from his U.S. Attorney job in a bid to kill the investigation. But according to several witnesses for the prosecution at the Rezko trial, the three persons most involved in trying to get Fitzgerald ousted from his U.S. Attorney gig were all powerful Republicans: Karl Rove, former US House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert, and prominent Illinois Republican (and 2008 Republican National Convention organizer) Bob Kjellander.

The plot was hatched in early 2005:

Maloof said he met with Rezko at Rezko’s Wilmette mansion in February of 2005 after Maloof had received a federal grand jury subpoena. Maloof testified that Rezko told him not to worry.

"The federal prosecutor will no longer be the same federal prosecutor," Maloof quoted Rezko. "Patrick Fitzgerald will be terminated and Dennis Hastert will name his replacement."

Hastert at the time was Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and the ranking Republican in the state’s elected delegation to Capitol Hill.

Maloof’s story appears to corroborate the plot described in the guilty plea of former Illinois finance authority chief Ali Ata. He was charged with Rezko in a separate federal financial fraud case. Ata claims Rezko told him that Illinois Republican power broker Robert Kjellander would lean on then-White House political chief Karl Rove to fire Fitzgerald to kill the Rezko investigation.

Hastert lost his job as speaker after the 2006 election and resigned from Congress late last year. So far, ABC7 has been unable to reach him for a comment on Maloof’s testimony.

Rove, of course, probably wasn’t interested in protecting Rezko so much as he was in fighting off Fitz over the Plame case. Kjellander and Hastert had their own motivations, as Rezko, contrary to being the heavily-partisan Democrat fundraiser of the TradMed’s imaginings, actually raised heavy amounts of cash for Republicans as well:

Republicans in Washington could presumably be persuaded to spike an investigation into Democrat Blagojevich because Rezko raised money for the GOP too and is accused of scheming with Republican heavyweight Stuart Levine, who has pleaded guilty in the case and testified against Rezko.

Kjellander, former treasurer of the Republican National Committee, received $809,000 in consulting fees for Blagojevich’s 2003 sale of state bonds, much of which prosecutors believe was funneled through a Rezko associate to Rezko "assignees." Kjellander has not been charged with wrongdoing.

Something to bear in mind when the Republicans and their GOP/Media Complex allies work to try and use Blago’s woes against Obama.

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