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Court Overturns Rod Blagojevich Convictions

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Court Overturns Rod Blagojevich Convictions

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich will have another day in court, but his hopes of being freed from prison anytime soon remain dim at best.

In a long-awaited ruling, a federal appeals court in Chicago threw out five of 18 counts against Blagojevich, vacated his 14-year sentence and ordered him retried on the five counts.

But it remained uncertain how Blagojevich’s fate would ultimately be resolved — prosecutors could opt against a third trial, throw out the disputed counts and proceed to a resentencing on the remaining convictions.

While finding the five counts invalid on technical grounds, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called the evidence against Blagojevich “overwhelming” and made clear that the former governor wouldn’t be released from prison in the meantime.

“It is not possible to call the 168 months unlawfully high for Blagojevich’s crimes, but the district judge should consider on remand whether it is the most appropriate sentence,” Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote in the unanimous opinion by a three-judge panel.

If prosecutors elect to drop the counts that were thrown out on appeal, then U.S. District Judge James Zagel should “proceed directly to resentencing,” the opinion stated.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago had no immediate comment Tuesday. Both U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon and his top assistant, Joel Levin, likely won’t be involved in deciding how the office responds to the court’s ruling because of their representation of Blagojevich co-defendants while in private practice.

Blagojevich’s wife, Patti, is scheduled to hold a 5 p.m. news conference with her husband’s attorneys outside the family’s home in Chicago’s Ravenswood Manor neighborhood.

Lauren Kaeseberg, one of Blagojevich’s attorneys, told the Tribune on Tuesday that the defense team was pleased the court acknowledged in reversing the five counts that there was a certain amount of political horse-trading taking place.

“We’ve always maintained that Blagojevich’s actions were done in the political context,” Kaeseberg said. “To the extent of the five counts that were reversed today, the court has shown this was a political case.”

Kaeseberg said Blagojevich was looking forward to a new sentencing hearing regardless.

“Hopefully because of these reversals, Rod’s sentence will be shortened at least and he’ll be able to have some time with his family, who he misses dearly,” she said. “His girls are growing up and he wants to be home as soon as possible.”

Jeff Cramer, a former federal prosecutor, said the ruling did not represent “a victory for Blagojevich,” noting that the court did not find that he was wrongfully convicted.

“This is a technicality on jury instructions,” he said of the decision.

Blagojevich, now 58, was convicted of misusing his powers as governor in an array of shakedown schemes, most famously for his alleged attempts to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after Obama’s  2008 election as president. Blagojevich has been locked up in a federal prison in suburban Denver since March 15, 2012, and is not scheduled to be released until May 2024, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.

The appellate court had mulled the ruling since holding oral arguments more than 17 months ago, a delay that led to speculation over a split among the three judges — Easterbrook, Ilana Diamond Rovner and Michael Kanne — on the panel making the decision.

Blagojevich has long claimed he was no different from other elected officials who leveraged their political power, and much of the 23-page appellate opinion focused on that sometimes gray line between traditional political horse-trading and flat-out bribery.

The court ruled that the instructions given to the jury in the second trial should have differentiated between Blagojevich’s various schemes to sell the Senate seat, in particular his proposal to use his power of appointment to ask for a position in Obama’s Cabinet. The opinion called that a “common exercise of logrolling.”

Another aspect of the scheme — to give the seat to longtime Obama friend Valerie Jarrett in exchange for money — represented a much brighter line of criminal activity, the court held.

“The (jury) instructions treated all proposals alike,” the opinion stated. “We conclude, however, that they are legally different: a proposal to trade one public act for another, a form of logrolling, is fundamentally unlike the swap of an official act for a private payment.”

Patti Blagojevich, left, attends a news conference outside her home following the announcement that a federal appeals court in Chicago threw out five of 18 counts against Blagojevich. (Terrence Antonio James, Chicago Tribune)

Patti Blagojevich, left, attends a news conference outside her home following the announcement that a federal appeals court in Chicago threw out five of 18 counts against Blagojevich.
(Terrence Antonio James, Chicago Tribune)

The opinion also invoked a key exchange from the December 2013 arguments when Easterbrook pressed a federal prosecutor on how Blagojevich’s conduct differed from a famous political deal supposedly struck more than 60 years ago: President Dwight Eisenhower’s nomination of Earl Warren to the U.S. Supreme Court in exchange for the California governor’s support in the 1952 election.

“If the prosecutor is right, and a swap of political favors involving a job for one of the politicians is a felony, then if the standard account is true both the President of the United States and the Chief Justice of the United States should have gone to prison,” the opinion stated.

But the opinion was also clear that the evidence against Blagojevich was overwhelming, “much of it from Blagojevich’s own mouth” as a result of wiretaps on his phone and his rambling testimony in his second trial.

The court wrote that while it was forced to reverse convictions on the five counts, prosecutors were “free to try again without reliance on Blagojevich’s quest for a position in the Cabinet” and focus instead on the evidence involving Jarrett, calling it “sufficient to convict.”

Since many other convictions remain and the sentences Zagel imposed were concurrent, prosecutors “may think retrial unnecessary,” the court said.

Cramer said the government will almost certainly throw out the five counts reversed by the court and attempt to defend the 14-year prison sentence Zagel already handed down.

“The appeals court even said the remaining counts still gets you to 168 months,” he said.

In fact, the court noted that Zagel had already found that the original sentence called for under federal guidelines was too harsh.

“He had already given (Blagojevich) more than half off,” Cramer said.

Entrepreneur, contributor, writer, and editor of Sostre News. With a powerful new bi-lingual speaking generation by his side, Sostre News is becoming the preferred site for the latest in Politics, Entertainment, Sports, Culture, Tech, Breaking and World News.

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Developments in Presidential Race, Trump does Terribly at Forum as Clinton shines

November is lurking around the corner and will be here before you know it, so my question to you is, have you decided who you will vote for? I have, and I proudly say my choice is Hillary Rodham Clinton. I am informing you all that there are ample development in the race for the presidency of the United States…

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November is lurking around the corner and will be here before you know it, so my question to you is, have you decided who you will vote for? I have, and I proudly say my choice is Hillary Rodham Clinton. I am informing you all that there are ample development in the race for the presidency of the United States.

First of all, Donald Trump, according to Kristina Vong’s article at Thehill.com, wrongly corrected a veteran Marine during a forum. The veteran, a woman named Rachel Fredericks, asked Mr. Trump how he plans to stop 20 veterans from committing suicide, daily. Trump tried to correct the woman, who needed no correction. He said it is actually 22, trying to emerge correct, when he was essentially incorrect.

Mr. Trump also does not have a real plan to defeat ISIS, as “his plan is to have a plan” according to Igor Bobic at the Huffington Post. He also insulted military leaders calling them embarrassments to the country when they were under President Obama. He wants to give the generals 30 days to come up with a plan to defeat ISIS.  Of course, this even makes it more obvious that Mr. Trump does not have a plan to defeat ISIS. Why, then did he call our current president the founder of ISIS? How can you give your vote to someone so unprepared and unfit for the presidency that constitutes a whole country? Sorry to say, but Donald Trump is not someone to vote for, at least not as US President!

According to Sean Colarossi at PoliticusUSA.com, a presidential forum highlighted how prepared Trump and Clinton are compared to each other, with Clinton appearing as the more prepared one, very easily. Clinton was engaged with questions, expressed gratitude, and was very prolific and intelligible in her responses. To reiterate, Trump has not a plan to defeat ISIS, where Hillary has a well thought-out plan. She outlined her plan, entailing it could take any form and she iterated and supports the idea that terror suspects should not be able to purchase firearms. Clinton also covered issues like mental health, illuminating the fact that it is overlooked, and mental health should no longer be stigmatized and victims of mental disorders should have access to resources. On the other hand, Trump gave generic answers like that he knows what is going on in the world. Also according to Colarossi’s article, Trump showed as an “empty suit” and “showed he is not prepared to be commander-in-chief” and that the contrast between him and Clinton could not be clearer”; this essentially means Clinton showed to be immensely more prepared to lead and did not focus on attacking others, like Trump’s approach does.

Lastly, Donald Trump has insulted women, children, ethnic groups, religious groups, his opponent, our current president, the military, and the list goes on. He is patronizing and unprepared to preside over our country as well. He constantly attacks others, with no action in mind. Consider if you want to have him as president, seriously!

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Senator Elizabeth Warren Highlights that Trump is a “Racist Bully” and that a Vote for Jill Stein Would Only Help Trump

Senator Elizabeth Warren recently, and I must say, very appropriately, called Donald Trump a “racist bully.” She said also that a vote for the Green Party’s presidential nominee, Jill Stein, is essentially a vote for Donald Trump…

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Senator Elizabeth Warren Highlights that Trump is a "Racist Bully" and that a Vote for Jill Stein Would Only Help Trump

Senator Elizabeth Warren recently, and I must say, very appropriately, called Donald Trump a “racist bully.” She said also that a vote for the Green Party’s presidential nominee, Jill Stein, is essentially a vote for Donald Trump.

Adding to her speech at Roxbury Community College, the senator said,  Trump has constantly proven to be a “thin-skinned, racist bully.” She then said his approach is hateful, with parts of his campaign being based on hate and that it is not characteristic of our country: that our country “is better than that.”

Warren then took the stance that, no, voters should not vote for Dr. Jill Stein over Secretary and Democratic Presidential Nominee, Hillary Clinton. Her reasons are simple. Anything can be precocious in getting Trump even inches closer to the White House, as she said in essence. Warren then suggested directly that a vote for Stein is a vote that brings Mr. Trump closer to the White House.

Also today, Dr. Stein even voiced more apprehensions and warning about Donald Trump. She did so by calling him a neo-fascist, basically. She generally suggested in her interview with Democracy Now, that Trump resonates fascist qualities of leaders of the past. This makes it clear that a vote for Trump is a vote for misfortune and peril in the United States.

Recently, on “Hannity” on Fox News, Trump generalized minorities once again, fabricating a vibe that illegal immigrants have been acutely responsible for deaths and fatalities in the country. One woman came forward, saying this is not an isolated issue. Trump, once again, has me disappointed in him and terrified if he gets elected.

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The Hillary 2016 App To Support The Current First Democratic Nominee To Win The Election

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The Hillary 2016 app created by Hillary for America is designed to help recently nominated official democratic nominee Hillary Clinton win the 2016 Presidential nomination.

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The app is designed with special features to help all Clinton supporters do small everyday tasks to help her win the election.The app allows users to compete with friends by completing daily challenges online ,users can also earn rewards,design their own campaign,share news and information ,test their knowledge to become an expert on current issues and more.

The app has a rating of 4.5 stars on the app store and ratings of users include good reviews like “Finally, a mobile experience to compete with Pokemon Go (to the polls!). I’m a millennial, so trust me. I know a lot about phone games” ,from user rater Catmandu, Toucan Too .

 

rawImageWith current news of Hillary Clinton’s nomination as the first woman democratic nominee to make national history on Tuesday night during the Democratic National Convention she’s closer to becoming the next president of the United States.

On Tuesday night during the DNC in Philadelphia,  Clinton supporters helped her win her way to victory with help from Senator Bernie Sanders by announcing his endorsement in support.Despite the  division of Bernie and Hillary supporters at the convention her ruling support numbers and support from Bernie granted her victory.

During his delegation in which his state of Vermont had decided to go last on the roll call ,Senator Bernie Sanders decided to go in and called  on his supporters to name her the party’s official nominee.

 

US Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton (L) and Bernie Sanders shake hands before the CNN Democratic Presidential Debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yar on April 14, 2016, in New York. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders take their increasingly acrimonious battle for the Democratic White House nomination to a debate stage in Brooklyn ahead of the key New York primary. / AFP / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Sanders urged supporters by saying”,…I have that Hillary Clinton be selected as the nominee of the Democratic Party for president of the United States.”

Many of Sanders supporters cheered in agreement to his endorsement of Clinton while many reacted in retaliation by walking out on the convention and others marched in protest while chanting “walk out” and “this is what democracy looks like”.Others staged a sit in the convention center.

 

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