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Judge Releases Tony Rezko on Bail

Bump and Update: There is joy in the Tony Rezko household tonight. The Judge ordered him released on bail, with a condition of home confinement.

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Tony Rezko's friends and family have put together $8 million for his bail. The Judge has said she will rule today on whether she will grant him bail with a condition of home confinement.

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Rezko Trial Witness Says Obama Attended Party for Auchi at Rezko's Mansion

Bump and Update: The Chicago Sun Times now has the testimony and more details, including that Michelle Obama was at the party and the date:

When Tony Rezko held a reception at his home for Iraqi-born billionaire Nadhmi Auchi on April 3, 2004, White House hopeful Barack Obama and his wife were also there, Stuart Levine testified just now at Rezko's trial.

Auchi is the man who provided Rezko a $3.5 million loan that Rezko did not disclose to the court -- resulting in his January arrest. "Mr. and Mrs. Obama were there, were they not?" Rezko lawyer Joseph Duffy asked. "Yes, sir," Levine said. Obama and his aides have said Obama has no recollection of ever meeting Auchi.

Here's the Sun-Times article about Obama meeting Auchi at the Four Seasons, which I reference below.

Original Post:

There was a surprise at the Tony Rezko trial today. The Government's star cooperating witness, Stuart Levine, said Barack Obama was at a party for Iraqi-born billionaire Nadhmi Auchi at Rezko's house. [More...]

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Rezko Lawyer Gets His Shot at Government Star Witness

Tony Rezko's lawyer Joe Duffy seems to be off to a great start in cross-examining the Government's star witness, Stuart Levine, according to the Chicago Tribune live-blog.

Read through the whole day's events. Most of it addressed Levine's copious drug use and poor memory.

Levine has been on the stand for more than a week testifying for the Government, detailing his life of crime and bringing Tony Rezko and other former Levine associates into it whenever he could.

After all, he's singing for his supper. And so long as he stays on tune, even if Rezko is acquitted, Levine gets one heck of a deal: Check out his plea agreement (pdf). It might be the longest one I've ever seen, 58 pages, particularly as to the factual recitation of the crimes Levine admits, but more significant are the numbers. Levine's guideline range before his snitch bonus is a level 43, category I, or mandatory life in prison, no parole -- there is no parole in the federal system. On a life sentence, the only way you come out is in a pine box.

The plea agreement provides for a Rule 11[c][1][c] agreed-upon sentence of 67 months. (See paragraph 22 on page 53.) Should the judge not agree and want to give him more, he gets to take his plea back.

From life in prison to 67 months, and all he has to do is tell the truth -- the Government's truth -- that Rezko was a crook too.

Levine sounds like a disgusting, pathetic, broken man. The Government, in propping him up to bring down Rezko, is stooping to his morally bankrupt level.

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Star Witness Testifies in Rezko Trial

The Government's star witness, Stuart Levine, took the stand Monday in the corruption trial of Tony Rezko. He's a defense dream for a witness.

Levine was charged with corruption along with Rezko but pleaded guilty and agreed to testify. Technically, Levine could be sentenced to life in prison, but he said he hoped prison time would be limited to about 51/2 years in return for his cooperation with the government.

Levine dressed for and sounded the part assigned to him by the Government:

He displayed the demeanor of a practiced public speaker and lawyer and hardly the picture of a strung-out drug abuser that Rezko's attorneys hope will damage his credibility.

What about that drug use? [More...]

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Obama Tells Sun Times Rezko is Still a Friend

In addition to being interviewed by the Chicago Tribune this week about Tony Rezko, Barack Obama also sat down for an interview with the Chicago Sun Times. More statements by Obama from the Sun Times interview:

Is Rezko still a friend?

"Yes,'' Obama said, "with the caveat if it turns out the allegations are true, then he's not who I thought he was, and I'd be very disappointed with that.''

And it's that friendship, Obama said, that probably kept him from realizing it was a mistake to enter into a real estate deal with Rezko.

"Probably because I'd known him for a long time, and he'd acted in an aboveboard manner with me," he said. "And I considered him a friend. ... It's further evidence that I'm not perfect.''

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kaas writes today about Obama's latest statements, "It's almost believable. As in, almost, but not quite.

The audio of the 80 minute Sun Times interview is here. The transcript is here (pdf).

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Obama Says Rezko Played a Bigger Fundraising Role Than Previously Known

In a just published interview with Sen. Barack Obama, the Chicago Tribune reports:

Indicted Chicago businessman Antoin "Tony" Rezko was a more significant fundraiser for presidential candidate Barack Obama's earlier political campaigns than previously known. Rezko raised as much as $250,000 for the first three offices Obama sought, the senator told the Tribune on Friday.

Obama also said for the first time that his private real estate transactions with Rezko involved repeated lapses of judgment. The mistake, Obama said, was not simply that Rezko was under grand jury investigation at the time of their 2005 and 2006 dealings. "The mistake was he had been a contributor and somebody involved in politics," he said.

Repeated lapses of judgment. The Tribune says that's how Obama views it.

The interview raises another question: Obama's naivite.

Obama said that when he questioned Rezko about news reports of his questionable political dealings, his friend assured him there was nothing wrong. "My instinct was to believe him," he said.

He relied on his "instinct" and didn't do anything to verify it. [More...]

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Rezko Trial Continues

The corruption trial of Tony Rezko continued Monday. At one point, Barack Obama's name surfaced in connection with recommendations for job appointments:

Obama's name surfaced briefly Monday as Rezko's lawyers introduced a series of e-mail exchanges in June 2003 involving lobbyist Matthew Pickering, Blagojevich lawyer Susan Lichtenstein and Monk, then the governor's chief of staff.

Pickering worked in the lobbying firm of David Wilhelm, who ran Blagojevich's 2002 campaign. In one e-mail, Pickering laid out a list of four people he and Wilhelm wanted Blagojevich to consider for appointment to the hospital planning board. Pickering also mentioned that the firm had worked closely with several top legislators, Obama included, in pushing legislation to overhaul the hospital board.

Lawyers for Rezko said the e-mail did not suggest a connection between Obama and the candidates pushed by Wilhelm for the hospital panel.

The New York Times reports on the e-mail:[More...]

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Rezko Trial: Recap Day One

Bump and Update: Rezko's lawyer mentioned Barack Obama while sliming the government's star cooperating witness Stuart Levine in opening argument:

Duffy mentions Levine's close political ties to the late Mayor Harold Washington, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill), former Gov. Jim Edgar and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Chicago) as examples of how connected Levine was.

Wait, we may need a transcript. Politico says Duffy mentioned Obama as one of many politicians Rezko, not Levine, was connected to. Which is it? The Chicago Sun Times version is similar to Politico's.

Day One trial testimony: The first and probably only witness today is Kelly Glynn, former finance director for Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich. She said Rezko was a top bundler. The Government queried her about Chris Kelly, Blagojevich's chief fundraiser and an alleged "co-schemer" of Rezko's. She then moved on to William Cellini.

Glynn said Republican power broker William Cellini held a fundraising event for Blagojevich, a Democrat, at a suburban hotel. She said she, Kelly and a co-worker would meet at Rezko's office to discuss fundraising strategy. Glynn testified that Rezko held the first post-election party for the governor at his Wilmette mansion.
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Rezko Jury Selected: Opening Arguments Tomorrow

The jury has been selected in Tony Rezko's federal criminal trial. Opening arguments are tomorrow. Each side is expected to take an hour to present their arguments.

The Judge is not disclosing which jurors were selected, either by number or name.

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Rezko Trial: Day Two

Jury selection continues in the Anton Rezko jury trial in Chicago.

Here is the witness list. Barack Obama's name is not on the list. This is not surprising, as I wrote yesterday. And, in fact, today Rezko's lawyers denied they intend to call Obama.

Obama does have someone in the courtroom taking notes.

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Obama Advisor Says He Answered Rezko Questions

Update: Reporters quizzed Obama about Rezko today in Texas.

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Chicago Sun Times reporter Lynne Sweet disagrees with Obama advisor David Axelrod that Obama answered the media's questions about Tony Rezko. In addition to her own experiences, she points to this April 27, 2007 news clip.

Sweet writes today:

For more than a year, that has been a pretty small group of investigative journalists—from the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. I checked with the Sun-Times reporters before I wrote my column and rechecked again. They all said they have never had a chance to discuss Rezko with Obama.

More...

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ABC News: Rezko Will Reveal "Cesspool of Obama's Allies"

ABC News reports on the implications of Tony Rezko's trial for Barack Obama.

I think one line Obama may wish he never said when defending his toughness is,

"I come from Chicago politics. We're accustomed to rough and tumble," he said.

Chicago politics is well-known for being dirty. Perhaps he should have talked about his experience staying above the fray of it rather than implying he knew how to get into the fight.

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Chicago Crime Update: No Appeal Bond for Conrad Black, Jury Will See Photos of Rezko's House

Two news items from Chicago today. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals denied an appeal bond for Conrad Black, while granting one to his two co-defendants. The British publishing magnate must report Monday to a federal prison in Coleman, Florida to start serving his 6 1/2 year sentence.

While the Court said there's a substantial issue on the fraud convictions (which, if decided in defendant's favor, likely would result in a reversal or new trial being granted) it found no such issue on Black's obstruction of justice conviction. The old coverup -- it gets you every time.

In the Anton Rezko trial which begins with jury selection Monday, the judge ruled today that photos of Rezko's mansion will come into evidence because it shows his opulent lifestyle and some of the alleged unlawful fundraising activity took place there.[More...]

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Rezko Trial Set to Begin: Implications for Barack Obama

Let me start out by saying, as I have before, that I don't think Barack Obama did anything illegal in his dealings with Anton "Tony" Rezko. Obama has labeled his involvement with Rezko and his wife in the purchase of his home "boneheaded." In other words, since Rezko was under federal investigation by a grand jury at the time Obama bought the $1.65 million house, it was bad judgment, nothing more.

Rezko's trial begins next week. It is a trial about the politics of crime and the crime in politics. As I do many such trials, including that of former Ill. Gov. George Ryan, I am going to cover it. I'm not going to walk on eggshells because Barack Obama's name will come up.

It seems the American media, aside from Obama's home town papers, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun Times, and the New York Post, are mostly lying low on it. Across the pond, as Instapundit notes, it's of interest to the TimesOnLine, which has a three page article on it today.

Also today, the Tribune reports that the Judge has allowed "Public Official A" to be unmasked as Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich. And that Obama's name will surface during the trial.

[More...]

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Tony Rezko Ordered Detained for Bond Violation

Bump and Update: The Judge revoked Rezko's bail and ordered him jailed.
In a court hearing in Chicago, prosecutors detailed a $3.5 million wire transfer from a bank in Beirut, Lebanon that they said was moved through a series of accounts until it reached Rezko or some of his relatives who had posted property for his bond. Under the terms of his agreement, prosecutors said in a filing with the court, Rezko was obligated to disclose any change in his financial status.

More....

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