Fox News "On the Record" - Transcript
FOX NEWS CHANNEL "ON THE RECORD" INTERVIEW WITH FORMER ILLINOIS GOVERNOR ROD BLAGOJEVICH (D)
INTERVIEWER: GRETA VAN SUSTEREN
SUBJECT: CONCERNS FOLLOWING IMPEACHMENT LAST WEEK
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MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Now former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich goes "On the Record." As the country watched last Thursday, former Governor Blagojevich was removed from office with the possibility of a federal indictment hanging over is head. Well, now the former governor's fight continues. A moment ago, the former governor went "On the Record."
(Begin videotaped interview.)
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, nice to see you, sir.
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: Hi, Greta. How are you?
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very well. Now, you know, because we're both lawyers, I'm very practical, so let me get with some practical questions to start with. How are you going to support your family in the short run?
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, that's a very practical question and a very immediate one because I'm no longer the governor and, therefore, I'm not working. But I'm like, unfortunately, tens of thousands of other Americans who are losing their jobs. And so like them, it's a time to take stock of where you are and begin the process of trying to rebuild. For me, especially, having focused so much on public service and working for the people of Illinois, now is a time for me to kind of regroup and figure out what I can do to earn a livelihood, a good one, to the best of my ability for my children, most importantly, and for my wife. So that's an ongoing process. I'm sorting it out.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that's sort of a no answer because, I mean, you've got sort of an emergency on your hands. Have you thought about like grabbing a book deal, for instance? You're in New York. I mean, that might be one way to sort of quick get some cash because you've got kids, I imagine you might have a mortgage like every other American, and I imagine you don't have a fat bank account that you can sort of coast on for a while.
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, Greta, thanks. I appreciate that. Well, look, the idea of writing a book would be very exciting. You know, I always kind of wanted to do that, and I think I have a lot I can say. And I've got my crayons ready, so I'm ready to get started just as soon as somebody's willing to talk to me.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Have you actually gone down that road, though? Have you contacted anybody? Have you got a book agent, anything like that?
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: No. I've been busy still trying to explain to as many people who would be willing to listen that, a, I'm an innocent and have done a lot of things that have been -- well, I'm an innocent man, and I want to show my innocence or prove my innocence and tell the American people and the people back home in my home state of Illinois that what happened last week with the legislature was a hijacking of a governor twice elected by the people, taken out of office, thwarting the will of an election by lawmakers who couldn't prove up a single act or wrongdoing and wouldn't allow me to disprove allegations where I could have shown my innocence. So I'm doing that and --
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: But the problem with that is -- that I understand, but let me get back to the practical stuff because I got that. I mean, your more practical concern, though, is food on the table and also you've got the possibility that in April or so that there's going to be an indictment coming down. That's your next sort of problem. I take it that the strategy at trial is that you want to be able to play the tapes in their entirety, which are in the possession of the prosecution, that you couldn't play in the state Senate. Is that right? And you're going to say that if you listen to all the tapes, we're going to have a completely different view than what some people might have right now.
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, I can't, as you know, Greta, you being the good lawyer that you are, really comment on the ongoing criminal case. I think that would not be appropriate. In the context of the impeachment, that was an opportunity for me to actually have all those tapes heard as well as every single witness and every single person I ever talked to about who the next U.S. senator should be. Unfortunately, that was denied to me by a legislature that, again, took out a governor without proving any wrongdoing. I'll have my day in court, and that will be the forum where I expect to be vindicated, clear my name and continue to be a voice for the people I care about.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: But the thing in the Senate, that's water over the dam. I mean, I realize the heartbreak to you and to your family, but that one's over. So sort of clearing your name about that, that's yesterday in your life, yesterday in the news. I mean, you say that you can't talk about the criminal trial. You can, it may not be the smartest thing to do strategically, but there's no legal impediment. And you've told us all the way along that it's the tapes, the tapes are going to change people's view.
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, again, I need to stick to what I think is the appropriate thing and that is to not comment on an ongoing case in a court of law that would in some way maybe be misconstrued and maybe even impede the finding of the truth. So I can't really go into the details of all of that. I can simply say again, as I've said over and over again, I've not done anything wrong. I'm not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing. I never intended in any conversation with anyone ever to violate any law. And I don't believe anybody who ever talked to me ever intended that either. So at the appropriate time, I'll have a chance in a court room to prove that.
In the meantime, I know you're -- you know, it is water over the dam, and I don't expect to get my job as governor back. But I do think it's important for the American people to realize what happened to the Constitution in Illinois and fundamental and basic civil rights.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Governor, I may be one of the few people in the country that thinks this. I mean, I have not heard the tapes, obviously. But unless on those tapes where you say, you know, I'll give you the Senate seat for 50 bucks, unless it's like that, you know, these are tough cases for the prosecution to prove because there's an awful lot of wheeling and dealing that goes on in politics. And I'm not -- I mean, you know, people think that you're going to get convicted and go to prison. I'm not so sure. I mean, I want to hear the tapes, but these are typically -- I mean, you do a lot of horse trade in your business. That's politics.
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, government and politics go hand in hand, getting things done in government, the political process is a way to get thing done. Ultimately, hopefully it's for the right reasons, for people, getting results for people. And when the whole story is told, as I've said, I think a lot of that will be seen.
And again, as I said before, I'm the anti-Nixon on this. I'm not trying to keep anybody from hearing those tapes in the impeachment trial. I wanted them to be heard. I wanted every single witness and every single person I ever talked to to be there to testify under oath and tell the truth. And that was denied to me in an impeachment trial. But that will not be denied in a court of law. And at the appropriate time, the truth will come out. And as it's written in the Bible, the truth shall set me free.
(Pause videotaped interview.)
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Coming up, more with the former governor. Does Blagojevich intend to subpoena President Obama? You'll find out from the governor himself. And then Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Senator John Edwards, has some things to say about her husband's infidelity. Uh-oh. That and more in the "Best of the Rest."
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: More with the former Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich. How did his family react when he was thrown out of office?
(Resume videotaped interview.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: When you lost the trial in the Senate last week and you walked through the door at home, your wife was there, I take it, was she not?
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: Yes, she was.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: What was that like? I mean, when you walked in the door, what did she say to you? You know, what did you say to her?
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, Greta, there's some background that maybe I didn't share with you before. But right after our world changed on December the 9th, there were offers made to me by leading state senators and through emissaries, some direct and some through emissaries, that if I stepped aside, they would agree to protect my pay for two years and give me a security detail for two years, but that part of the deal was I could not pick the United States senator. I didn't feel comfortable with doing that. I didn't want to become a ghost payroll governor, I didn't want to be bought off because I didn't do anything wrong, and I didn't feel stepping aside was the right thing to do.
And when I chose not to do that, I was then told, through intermediaries, that they were going to accelerate the impeachment process and throw me out of office. When I made --
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Who made you those deals? Who made you those offers?
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: They were purported from the Senate leadership to emissaries close to me.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Names.
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: I don't think it's appropriate for me to name that but I'd be happy to --
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Why not? Wait a second. Now, you want all the tapes out, you want all the information out. If people have done this, why not lay it all out? I mean, why do you want to, quote, "protect" these people if they tried to cut you a deal? I mean, they certainly didn't protect you.
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, I know that. And maybe there will be an opportunity for everybody to be able to say something on a sworn statement as to whether or not, you know, they did or did not send emissaries and make approaches or the direct conversation I had with a certain state senator, whether or not that happened. But that was an offer that was discussed. And it was one that some in my team thought I should consider. But I rejected it.
The consequence was that then I needed to do my job as governor and pick a United States Senator. There were all kinds of things that were being said that if I made that choice that, again, there would be an acceleration of the impeachment process. All of that has played out. I made the decision, I did my job, and the Senate --
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: So the Senate convicts you and tosses you from your job.
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: Without any proof of wrongdoing, Greta. Without a single proof of wrongdoing.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I got a lot of problems with what happened at the Senate procedurally, so you and I are on the same page on that. And you know, I think the entire tapes, if you want them heard, should be heard and considered and certainly at the trial.
But let me go back. You walk in the door after you get tossed out. I mean, what do you say at home? What happened?
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, I was home before they voted, and then the vote happened sometime, I think, around a little after 5:00. And I was with my wife. And it's a very emotional thing, especially for, you know, she was dealing with it. It was very difficult for her. She's a loving wife and caring and felt a deep sense of sadness and, I think, anger at what she, I believe, rightfully understood as being an injustice, not so much to us but to the people of Illinois.
And three minutes after the vote came down, the new governor ordered the security detail that protects me and my family to leave. And the head of our detail called and had to come in the house. And he was actually crying because he was ordered to remove some of the security telephones that were in the home, and he was ordered to remove the detail. And so within minutes of the decision by the Senate, the new governor ordered the security detail removed from me and my family. And that's a little bit unprecedented because generally it's my understanding that former governors are granted a period of adjustment for security purposes before the security detail is stripped away.
But that, too, was part of, I think, the decision I made in December when I rejected their offer to get paid for two years, not work as governor and keep a security detail. I think that was a response to the fact that I would not be bought off by them and I would stay in my job and fight for the people and keep fighting to the end.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: And your wife -- and so let me -- I mean, we've only got 30 seconds left. So I guess the -- you know, what do you say after this to your wife? What did you say to her?
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, my wife, my daughters, especially our 12- year old, look, this is a new chapter in our lives. People go through tough times. Life is filled with, you know, peaks and valleys, with hills and mountains that you have to climb. This is a mountain that we have to climb. It's time for us to regroup, rebuild and me to commit myself and use the energy that I used in public service to build a better life for my children and for my wife and for my family, to clear my name. And I still want to be a voice for the people I fought for, and I still want to protect them from a tax increase that my successor, I believe, is going to do. We both ran, he and I, on a promise not to raise taxes on people. And I'm calling on him to not break that promise. I never did; he shouldn't.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, more than anything else, I hope that when the tapes are played that they back you up because, you know, I hate to see guilty people. I much prefer to see innocent people. And I certainly hope that when the tapes are played in their entirety, you know, it's different than what, you know, at least what we have heard and what everyone, at least I think most people, has thought transpired in your office.
By the way, are you going to call Rahm Emanuel?
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: (Laughs.) I think he's busy right now, and it's probably a phone call he'd prefer not to have to have to take.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: How about as a witness? Are you going to call him as a witness?
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: Oh, I think it's possible. We'll call everybody and anybody I ever talked to about the Senate seat. Again, I'll leave that up to the lawyers. But U.S. senators, Harry Reid, Senator Durbin, former Congressman Emanuel, everybody and anybody that I ever talked to about the Senate seat I would hope my lawyers would want to call them as witnesses.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any chance that President Obama, since he's from Illinois, does he in any way even tangentially have a likelihood of being called as a witness on any issue?
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: I'll leave that to the lawyers. I wouldn't rule anything in or rule anything out. I would leave that for them to decide. I would suspect I'll do what they think is right, find the truth and get to the truth.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Is there a possibility in your mind? You're a lawyer, you're a former prosecutor.
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: I would say there's a possibility, yes.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, thank you, sir. And good luck, sir.
MR. BLAGOJEVICH: Thank you very much.
(End videotaped interview.)