Rod Blagojevich, Bill O'Reilly Spar On 'Factor' (VIDEO, TRANSCRIPT)
Bill O'Reilly hosted Rod Blagojevich on his popular cable news show Thursday night, but despite his best efforts, O'Reilly ended up in a heavy-spin zone.
The indicted former Illinois governor dodged and stumbled throughout the five-minute segment, though O'Reilly did his best to ask clear and direct questions.
A typical exchange went like this:
O'Reilly: "You're saying, yes, you had conversations with the President, and Rahm Emanuel, and some other people who purported to be in their camp. Okay, now in your opinion, in your opinion, are those conversations with the President and Rahm Emanuel, are they damaging to those individuals?"
O'Reilly: "That's an easy one, Governor. You don't have to say how. Are they damaging, in your opinion?"
Blagojevich: "Um, the question is was there anything illegal with regard to my conversation with any of 'em, the answer is no."
O'Reilly: "No, the question is, in your opinion, will they damage President Obama or Rahm Emanuel when the tapes come out as you want? Yes or no?"
Blagojevich: "I would like to answer your question yes or no, unfortunately, there's a court order that prohibits me from saying--"
O'Reilly: "No there's not. I'm just asking your opinion."
And so on.
One can only imagine that the Donald Trump won't have so much patience with Blago when he appears on "Celebrity Apprentice" this March.
Watch the interview:
Read the full transcript here:
BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Factor Follow-up" segment tonight, a "Factor" exclusive. As you may know, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been charged with a variety of felonies in connection with allegedly selling Barack Obama's Senate seat. Yesterday, the Feds re-filed some charges for legal reasons.
Joining us now from Chicago is Mr. Blagojevich, who has pleaded innocent to everything. Now Governor, I can't try this on TV. I'm not Nancy Grace. I can't do this kind of stuff. I don't know what the evidence is. We respect your plea of innocence, and you didn't plead not guilty. You plead innocent. We respect that, but I do want to ask you about President Obama, Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago guys. Do they have any involvement in the case at all?
ROD BLAGOJEVICH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ILLINOIS: Well, Bill, the most important evidence is the secretly taped conversations when the government taped my home phones for about six weeks and other telephones. And there are hundreds of hours of secretly taped conversations. And the great irony here is I've asked and my lawyers have filed a motion to petition the court to have all of those tapes heard by either side and played in court so that the jury of my peers could actually hear what the whole truth is. We've advocated and I've advocated from the very beginning that every one of those taped conversations be heard, and it will exonerate me. And it will show that what actually happened here was not the sale of a Senate seat for financial gain but, frankly, the theft of a governor twice elected by the people by government bureaucrats with fancy law degrees.
O'REILLY: All right.
BLAGOJEVICH: That's the heart of this case.
O'REILLY: All right. So there are hundreds of hours though of tape the government has on you. And, look, I think you're right. Get it out there. Let the people hear it. This, that, and the other thing. But I'll come back to the fact that there has been reporting that then-Senator Obama, Rahm Emanuel, a whole bunch of people, OK, had conversations with you about this seat. That's a fact. Is that true?
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, let me answer that, and let me also let you and your listeners know, your viewers know, I'm restricted by a court order.
O'REILLY: I know that. I'm not going to ask you what the conversations are.
BLAGOJEVICH: Right. I can't -- right.
O'REILLY: I'm going to ask you general questions that you can answer.
O'REILLY: Conversations with then-Senator Obama and his guys: yes or no?
BLAGOJEVICH: I spoke to President Obama the last time less than a week before I was arrested in Philadelphia when all the governors were with the president-elect and we talked about a variety of different issues. I can say from my recollection I write in my book how right after the election, the first weekend after the election, I had conversations with my congressman, Rahm Emanuel, about a variety of issues. He gave me advice and some recommendations on a Senate seat. I wrote in my book that emissaries purporting to be from the Obama camp had offered my chief of staff that they were going to raise a whole bunch of money for me around the country if I appointed a candidate that they were interested in. So some of these things I've talked about already in my book.
O'REILLY: All right. So you're -- you're saying yes, you had conversations with the president and Rahm Emanuel and some other people who purport to be in their camp. OK. Now, in your opinion, in your opinion, are those conversations with the president and Rahm Emanuel, are they damaging to those individuals?
O'REILLY: That's an easy one, Governor. Come on now. You don't have to say how. Are they damaging in your opinion?
BLAGOJEVICH: The question is, was there anything illegal with regard...
O'REILLY: No, the question is, in your opinion, will they damage President Obama or Rahm Emanuel when the tapes come out, as you want? Will it be damaging to them? Yes or no?
BLAGOJEVICH: I'd love to -- I would like to answer your question yes or no. Unfortunately, there's a court order that prohibits me from saying...
O'REILLY: No, there is not.
BLAGOJEVICH: ...what was on the conversations.
O'REILLY: You don't have to say. I'm asking your opinion, your humble opinion if when stuff is played, are there going to be people go, "Whoa"? Is it going to be damaging to the president or Rahm Emanuel or both? It's an opinion question. Not a legal question.
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, I'll leave that to others.
O'REILLY: Man, you're dodging, you're dancing. How you can do this? You're supposed to be a straight-up guy.
BLAGOJEVICH: I am.
O'REILLY: You're supposed to be -- come on. You're dancing. You're dodging. Yes or no, in your opinion, is it damaging or not? Come on, there's nothing wrong with that. You're not breaking anybody's confidence. You're not going to get in trouble. You're already in a lot of trouble. This isn't going to make it worse.
BLAGOJEVICH: There were no illegal conversations with me or Rahm Emanuel. No illegal conversations between President Obama and me.
O'REILLY: OK. That's good.
BLAGOJEVICH: There are, however, FBI interviews with President Obama, with Rahm Emanuel and other people in the White House. We've asked the government to turn those interviews over.
O'REILLY: But you don't know though, you don't know whether they're -- what they said. But let's get back to you, what you know.
O'REILLY: OK. So in your opinion, nothing illegal was said by Emanuel or the president, fine. Damaging in the public arena. Talk show guys grabbing it, you know, "Factor" guys grabbing it.
O'REILLY: Would that happen if these tapes were made public?
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, look, I can only tell you this. I know what you guys have done to me when snippets of conversations were taken out of context.
O'REILLY: We have been fair to you here, Governor. That's why you're on the program.
O'REILLY: We've been fair to you.
BLAGOJEVICH: When I say you, I mean you guys in the media and how you guys in the media do certain things. I can't judge whether or not...
O'REILLY: Come on. Are they going to be embarrassed or not, in your opinion? Yes or no? Are they going to be embarrassed if this stuff comes out? Yes or no?
BLAGOJEVICH: I think those are questions you should ask them. I think they have an understanding of what they said to me and the sorts of things they said. You should ask them.
O'REILLY: OK. We appreciate you taking the time. Thank you.
BLAGOJEVICH: Thank you.