02/11/2014 03:59 pm ET Updated Apr 13, 2014

Governor Rod Blagojevich's Defense Attorney Compares Chris Christie's Situation to Blago's... and It's Not Pretty

I interviewed top 100 defense attorneys in America-ranked Chicago attorney Sam Adam Jr., who defended former governor Rod Blagojevich, on my radio show, asking him to compare the Blagojevich case with Chris Christie's situation, from a defense and prosecution perspective.

He started off commenting, "I see Chris Christie having a lot of problems now under mail and wire fraud, maybe a RICO statute, as well, coming down the line," and he later added, "The reason I think Christie may have a serious problem here... is it's even more explicit than what Blagojevich was charged with doing. "

"RICO, how is that?" I inquired.

He replied:

"The Hoboken mayor said that the Christie administration, through a lieutenant governor, as well as other aides of Christie, withheld Sandy funds because the mayor of Hoboken would not approve a development in Hoboken... Now that's a very important thing. That's exactly what happened with Blagojevich.

"For years here in Illinois, there were accusations being thrown about down in Springfield, in the capital, about Blagojevich doing certain things in a corrupt pattern -- that he was connecting campaign funds with contracts. And it didn't really go anywhere for the first... (or)... second term, until there were accusations made about the senate seat and that's what brought the Feds in..."

Adam described how the Feds will:

"... use the grand jury to get at other areas where there might be a pay-to-play politics, where... you might have a quid pro quo and, if ...the lieutenant governor connected campaign funds with another project and the Christie administration is involved in that, that is certainly something that the Feds are going to be interested in."

I asked, "What about the criminality of Bridgegate?"

He referred to a Port Authority individual also

"involved with a law firm that was being used to lobby on behalf of the Rockefeller Group... (which is) trying to develop in Hoboken... what's going to be very interesting here is how the Feds use Bridgegate... and then slowly move them in to the withholding of the Sandy Hurricane funds. "

" ...If I were representing Christie... I would... go through his campaign contributions list for the last six to seven years. Anybody who gave a contribution or anybody who is related that gave a contribution to somebody who got a contract, the Feds are going to be looking at every single one of those contributions. ...Christie's going to have to... sit down with a defense lawyer and figure out, 'were there contributions given here that look like pay to play politics?' Because now that this has come to light, he's going to have to answer every single question he can on whether or not this was pay to play."

"How do Federal prosecutions work in a case like Blagojevich or Christie?" I asked.

Adam replied:

"They're going to go back and get emails... and talk to people and investigate their way forward, and... if there is a single pay-to-play or what even looks like a pay-to-play instance that he was aware of and if this mayor [of Hoboken] is telling the truth, he's got some real legal problems."

"There's also the case of the Hurricane Sandy ad campaign that was not competitively sourced and it looked more like an ad for him and his family," I interjected.

Adam replied:

"...that is important, [because] when you're talking about wire fraud and mail fraud, that the government has to prove,... that honest services were not given. And one of the ways in which you prove that these were not honest services is, 'was there a gain to the individual who did the fraud?' ...Was the use of these ad campaigns, was the use of these pictures of him a benefit to Christie that resulted from the fraud? If so, then you can prove not honest services."

"In Blagojevich one of the ways they did this was they said his wife received payments from one of the other alleged co-conspirators and that was the personal benefit that the family received. Here they also said, in Blagojevich, that him trying to get this senate seat was a personal benefit to him because it paid a thousand dollars more than the governor's salary. If you recall, they said Blagojevich wanted to -- if the president would appoint him to be Health and Human Services director he would give the president anybody that the president wanted-- in this case it was Valerie Jarrett -- the spot of appointed senator. Well the government said and the judge allowed that that was a personal benefit to Blagojevich... even though it wasn't money in his pocket like a traditional bribe, that benefit helped him.

"Well here it very well may look like one of the benefits to Christie was that he is trying to run for president. ... the ad campaign shows he and his family in a very positive light, and that was the benefit to cause him to commit these frauds and that's one of the things they're going to have to prove and that's one of the things that you can be certain the government is going to look at."

I asked Adam, "How will the Feds use the people who surrounded him, like David Wildman, who has already plead the fifth, to get to Christie?" First, Adam qualified that we don't know if Christie has done anything, then he added,

"...if I was the US Attorney in this matter I would start offering out immunity like candy to a baby.

"... when you're offered immunity, you're not allowed to stand on the Fifth Amendment The only thing an individual can do is go to court and refuse to answer and then be held in contempt and go to jail. Once you have been offered immunity, you cannot not answer the questions without being in violation of the law and there are very few times that people... just refuse to answer."

Mr. Adam's explanation may explain why some of Christie's top aides have not been subpoenaed yet:

" start offering immunity down below, so that you can start working your way up the chain. ... to see what they know and build the case up. ...There is nobody better than the Feds at doing that -- going below and building up. And if that's the case, of those guys is going to get immunity and once that happens, ...the dominoes are going to start falling and getting in line with a serious criminal investigation."

Attorney Adam explained the way the Feds nailed Blagojevich:

"...the one count I did lose (defending Blagojevich) was lying to an FBI agent. ...If a federal agent comes to you and you tell them something that is not true, knowingly, that in and of itself is a crime.

"...If I were the US Attorney and knowing how politicians just have to talk, I would offer the chance for Christie to come in and answer all questions... He's not going to turn down, especially to be made public, the opportunity to talk about this. Once you get him in your office... you ask him question after question after question. Now he is on the hook for whatever he has answered... if he has told you a lie you... have an opportunity to do perjury."

I asked, "If the Feds make the decision to go all out against Christie, how will that affect his life?" Sam Adam Jr. answered, "It will forever change his life, his family's life, if they [the Feds] decide to go full fledged."

There's a lot more in the interview and transcript. Listen to the full audio podcast of the interview here.

Or read the full transcript here, at