Jury shown evidence that Mapes’ communications with McClain contradict previous testimony
CHICAGO – Nearly six months after former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan was forced to fire his longtime chief of staff, those in the speaker’s inner circle were once again realizing just how much they’d come to rely on Tim Mapes.
It was late November 2018, and Democrats had just won big in the general election, riding a “Blue Wave” of opposition to then-President Donald Trump. In the Illinois House, the party regained its supermajority status it had lost two years prior – and then some.
Tasked with managing a record 74 members in his caucus, Madigan had some decisions to make about how to structure his leadership team and where to place incoming members – some of whom had campaigned on being independent from the polarizing speaker.
Longtime Madigan confidant Mike McClain, who was often in on these sorts of strategic choices, turned to the only person who knew the caucus possibly better than Madigan: Mapes.
“You did day in and day out stuff,” McClain told Mapes as he broached the question of whether Mapes would be comfortable going through the list he’d drafted of member assignments to House committees.
Mapes agreed to take a look.
“Are you comfortable with me telling him I talked to you?” McClain asked, referring to Madigan in a phone conversation he did not know was being recorded by federal agents.
Mapes again said he was fine with that, as long as the speaker was too.
“That’s what it comes down to: I don’t want to get in crosshairs with him and some of his staff,” Mapes said. “I hear the view that some of his staff doesn’t like me and they’re on path to shut me out.”
The November 2018 call is one of many that have been played so far in Mapes’ obstruction of justice and perjury trial, now in its second week. Mapes is accused of lying to a grand jury that was investigating Madigan and his inner circle. Prosecutors claim Mapes said he didn’t remember or couldn’t recall whether McClain was working as an “agent” of the speaker out of loyalty to both men when he testified to the grand jury in 2021.
Mapes’ guess that some of Madigan’s staff didn’t like him was borne out in an independent review of the speaker’s office after he’d been fired. A 2019 report cited bullying as a pervasive issue and found “Mr. Mapes had a reputation for denigrating workers and threatening their jobs.”
Mapes, who’d served 25 years as the speaker’s top aide, had also spent two decades as executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois under Madigan, and in the last seven years of his Statehouse career, served as clerk of the Illinois House.
But all three of those roles came to an abrupt end in June 2018 when a staff member in the House clerk’s office publicly accused Mapes of sexual harassment and bullying. It was the third person in Madigan’s orbit who’d been accused of harassment in recent months and the height of the #MeToo movement, and the speaker was feeling pressure.
In their opening statements, prosecutors said they’d show how McClain was filling in the gaps of all the roles Mapes used to play in the speaker’s orbit. Just two weeks after Mapes’ resignation, McClain had asked Mapes for a campaign-related spreadsheet “that goes on for 20 yards,” he joked.
Mapes said he kept it on a thumb drive that, because it contained sensitive information like social security and credit card numbers, never left his side – he’d even taken it to Australia and Europe.
“That’s pretty cute,” McClain said.
In that same call, the pair expressed worry for Madigan’s stress levels, and Mapes remarked that the last time he saw the speaker, the already slight Democrat had lost a noticeable amount of weight.
The level of detail shared between the two was contradictory to the entire two-plus hours of Mapes’ grand jury testimony played at trial Tuesday and Wednesday.
Mapes was indicted for his answers to seven questions where he denied knowing or being able to recall whether McClain was working on Madigan’s behalf.
“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?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu asked Mapes during his grand jury testimony.
“No, that wouldn’t — that wouldn’t happen,” Mapes said.
In front of the grand jury, Mapes seemed to recall minor details of some episodes, including the minutiae of two occasions when he recommended former speaker’s office employees for jobs at electric utility Commonwealth Edison.
But Mapes’ was fuzzy around the specifics of McClain’s informal role as Madigan’s trusted advisor.
One of the questions Mapes wasn’t indicted for also seemed to contradict what jurors heard on the wiretaps.
Asked if McClain ever talked to Mapes about “things (McClain) was doing for Madigan,” Mapes demurred.
“I would’ve had friendly conversations with Mr. McClain after he retired, but not related to a dialogue about Mike Madigan,” Mapes said.
Bhachu warned Mapes three separate times during his grand jury testimony that the immunity order he was under meant that he could be charged with perjury if he wasn’t truthful.
“When you say you fail to recall something or you say you don’t remember something – if (the grand jury) conclude(s) that you’re lying, you understand you’ll be prosecuted?” Bhachu asked the third time. “You get that, right?”
“Yes, sir,” Mapes replied.
In a bizarre contradiction, Mapes was asked about a casual coffee meeting he had with an FBI agent and intelligence analyst in Springfield in January 2019. The analyst testified earlier in the trial that it was purely an informational meeting, and that she’d gotten Mapes’ number from a mutual family friend.
But Mapes told the grand jury that the two “were reaching out to be wired up against members of the General Assembly.”
Mapes prepared a memo after that coffee meeting, which he’d produced after he was subpoenaed in July 2020. Asked why he’d written it, Mapes responded, “I was instructed many years ago by outside counsel that if you have a meeting like this you should prepare a memo.”
Mapes then asked Bhachu if he could review the memo during the grand jury’s lunch break.
The memo, read in its entirety on Wednesday, contained no such line about the agent asking Mapes to wear a wire.
After the break, Bhachu asked Mapes if there was anything he’d like to change from his testimony that morning, but Mapes declined.
The memo concluded with Mapes’ answer to the FBI’s question about why he picked that particular café on Springfield’s west side.
“My response, convenient, easy parking,” Mapes wrote. “It is just a coffee place, but I don’t drink coffee.”
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