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Renato Mariotti @renato_mariotti
, 9 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
1/ The case outlined by federal prosecutors in the charges against Alderman Ed Burke is strong. The calls between Burke and the alleged victims, and other calls intercepted by the FBI via wiretap, really make the case. #twill…
2/ It is hard for prosecutors to prove corruption cases without wiretaps or recorded conversations because the conversations are often not explicit and there can later be a dispute about exactly what was said.
3/ The recordings also undercut potential defenses Burke might have had otherwise. Without recordings, Burke might have a strong argument that adverse actions taken against the alleged victims were legitimate. He still has the argument, but the tapes make them look retaliatory.
4/ Instead of a "he said/he said" between Burke and alleged victims, the victims' testimony is backed up by the recordings. The challenge is for prosecutors to find out about corruption as it is ongoing and obtain sufficient evidence to obtain a wiretap. They're not easy to get.
5/ The Burke charges, like the case against Blagojevich, relate to alleged criminal conduct that did not succeed. The success of the criminal activity doesn't matter, but it can be harder to prove as a practical matter, because no one was "harmed" by the unlawful activity.
6/ Here, there is a clear harm to the people of Chicago, who rely on our public servants to be honest. (Accordingly, the risk that jurors would not convict on that basis is very low.)
7/ It is worth noting that federal prosecutors did not charge Burke with "theft of honest services," which Blagojevich was charged with. There are changes in the law that have given defendants various defenses to those crimes. The charge here is attempted extortion.
8/ Some of you asked if this has anything to do with Trump, given that Burke represented the Trump Organization for years. The charges are unrelated to Trump and the only way this could impact him legally is if Burke flipped and offered information on Trump's businesses.
9/ (That would be complicated by privilege issues given that Burke was the Trump Organization's attorney.)

A more important lesson is that without recordings, it can be hard to prove crimes requiring proof of intent or agreement. Keep that in mind as you follow other cases. /end
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