Jurors hear secret FBI recordings of ex-top aide to Madigan, then hear him allegedly lying to a grand jury

Tim Mapes is on trial for perjury and attempted obstruction of justice for allegedly trying to block the feds’ investigation of Michael Madigan and Michael McClain, who face criminal charges of their own.

SHARE Jurors hear secret FBI recordings of ex-top aide to Madigan, then hear him allegedly lying to a grand jury
Tim Mapes, former chief of staff to Michael Madigan, is charged with perjury and attempted obstruction of justice for allegedly trying to block an investigation of his boss.

Tim Mapes, former chief of staff to Michael Madigan, is charged with perjury and attempted obstruction of justice for allegedly trying to block an investigation of his boss.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Two weeks after Tim Mapes was forced to resign as the longtime chief of staff to then-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, Mapes had a long chat by phone with fellow Madigan confidant Michael McClain.

McClain filled Mapes in on a discussion he’d had with Madigan. And later, Mapes explained that he would “always try to protect” the powerful Southwest Side Democrat they’d both served.

“We’ll protect the boss,” Mapes said he’d told a valuable member of the Madigan organization. “… That’s what you gotta remember.”

McClain kept Mapes in the loop on that call in 2018. But three years later, Mapes would deny gleaning any insight from McClain about his interactions with Madigan.

Mapes made his denial under oath, before a federal grand jury, during a March 2021 visit in which a prosecutor made “crystal clear” Mapes could be prosecuted for perjury.

Now, that’s exactly what’s happening. Mapes is on trial not just for perjury, but attempted obstruction of justice for an alleged bid to block the feds’ investigation of Madigan and McClain, who today face criminal charges of their own.

On Wednesday, after hearing the June 2018 call between Mapes and McClain, a trial jury heard Mapes make the same denials he’d made in 2021.

“Did Mr. McClain, after he retired, kind of give you any insight into what his interactions with Mr. Madigan were that you weren’t privy to personally?” a prosecutor asked Mapes at the time.

“No, that wouldn’t — that wouldn’t happen,” Mapes told the grand jury.

The feds on Wednesday said they expected to finish calling witnesses in their case against Mapes by the end of this week. U.S. District Judge John Kness has said the trial must end by Aug. 25 due to scheduling conflicts.

Before pausing testimony for the day, prosecutors called former state Rep. Lou Lang to the witness stand. He is expected to testify about a call with McClain in November 2018, in which McClain claimed to be an agent of Madigan’s and told Lang it was time to resign from the General Assembly.

But jurors spent the bulk of their day Wednesday listening to recorded phone calls between Mapes and McClain, as well as Mapes’ grand jury testimony. The two didn’t quite seem to line up.

Mapes’ attorneys have insisted he either didn’t have specific personal knowledge of the questions he was asked, or he couldn’t remember the answers. Mapes’ May 2021 indictment identified seven occasions in which Mapes allegedly lied before the grand jury, as he handled questions that dealt with work done by McClain for Madigan.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane MacArthur highlighted Mapes’ quote about protecting “the boss” during her opening statement last week. In the June 21, 2018, call in which Mapes made the comment, McClain told Mapes he’d discussed with Madigan a spreadsheet “twice as long” as a conference room. It was part of a program McClain had with Mapes to get fundraising dollars.

The men also discussed Madigan’s health.

“He looks, he looks, uh, exhausted Tim,” McClain said.

A later Nov. 28, 2018, phone conversation was more extensive. During that call, Mapes asked McClain whether Madigan had started to think about leadership in the new upcoming General Assembly. McClain told him, “He’s just on the fringe, Tim.”

Then, McClain said, “how about if I get my file?” And McClain seemed to then tick through a list of several topics for Mapes that McClain had discussed with Madigan.

Jurors also heard much of Mapes’ grand jury testimony Wednesday. Beyond Mapes’ seven alleged lies, there was discussion before the grand jury about former Chicago Ald. Danny Solis, who worked undercover for the feds until he was outed in January 2019 by the Chicago Sun-Times, which also reported Madigan had earlier been recorded along with Solis.

“Did you ever discuss Mr. Solis’ cooperation with Mr. Madigan?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu asked Mapes before the grand jury.

When Mapes answered “no,” Bhachu asked, “Not once?”

After a long pause, Mapes said, “[Madigan] may have at one time referenced it,” but he said the men didn’t discuss it.

Mapes claimed during that testimony not to remember the name of political consultant Alaina Hampton, who made bombshell sexual harassment allegations against a top Madigan political aide in 2018. Mapes also said he couldn’t remember whether Hampton had been paid.

Asked by Bhachu whether Mapes saw any problem with recommending someone for a job with the state’s beer distributor association when the group had business pending before the Illinois General Assembly, Mapes said, “No sir.”

Mapes made the claim that McClain was “trying to be retired” after his formal retirement as a lobbyist in 2016 — though trial testimony has shown McClain continued to do work for Madigan well after that retirement.

And finally, Mapes responded to many questions by telling the grand jury he couldn’t recall the answers. That prompted Bhachu to remind Mapes on multiple occasions the danger he faced if he wasn’t truthful.

Bhachu told Mapes he wanted there to be “no doubt in your mind that you can be prosecuted for perjury. … You get that, right?”

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