‘Protect the Boss, Protect the Boss’: Closing Arguments Underway in Perjury Trial of Ex-Madigan Chief of Staff Tim Mapes

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When Tim Mapes appeared before a federal grand jury in 2021, he could have been a “star witness” in an investigation into his boss Michael Madigan and his longtime confidant Michael McClain. Instead, prosecutors alleged Mapes lied repeatedly and “corrupted the truth-seeking mission” of that grand jury.

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Closing arguments in Mapes’ perjury trial began Wednesday, as prosecutors told jurors that Madigan’s former chief of staff lied multiple times in order to protect “the boss.”

“Our system of justice depends on the integrity of this process,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Schwartz said Wednesday morning, describing how witnesses take an oath to speak honestly when they testify. “What (Mapes) didn’t do, ladies and gentlemen, was tell the truth.”

Mapes faces a pair of charges: making false declarations before a grand jury and attempted obstruction of justice. He’s accused of giving false answers seven times when he appeared before a grand jury investigating Madigan and McClain in March 2021.

The prosecution called more than a dozen witnesses to testify, but its case was also largely built on numerous wiretapped phone conversations presented to jurors, which showed Mapes and McClain were in contact repeatedly throughout 2017, 2018 and 2019 — the timeframe Mapes was questioned about before the grand jury.

The calls ranged in time from just a few seconds to several minutes and included discussions that ran the gamut of topics: from Mapes’ resignation and McClain’s “assignment” to tell ex-state Rep. Lou Lang that he should leave office, to more benign items like lunch meetings and doctor’s appointments.

But all of those tapes, prosecutors have argued, show that Mapes was fully aware of the work going on between McClain and Madigan and lied about it to the grand jury.

Schwartz described the trio as “extremely tight,” and said Mapes — who worked with Madigan for more than 25 years — acted as a sort of “gatekeeper” to the speaker for others on the outside.

“No one got in to see the wizard without seeing that man: Tim Mapes,” Schwartz said. “His mantra was, ‘Protect the boss, protect the boss.’”

Due to his years of work alongside Madigan and his “tight inner circle,” Mapes could have been one of the best possible witnesses in the government’s investigation, Schwartz said. Instead, she claimed Mapes lied over and over and shared “virtually nothing,” opting instead to withhold “any information that could hurt” his friends.

Schwartz described Mapes as a meticulous, detail-oriented person, and someone who remained loyal to Madigan even after Mapes was ousted from his roles as chief of staff and executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois in 2018 amid sexual harassment allegations.

“He will stay in the foxhole with them through thick and thin,” Schwartz said.

When Mapes appeared before the grand jury in 2021, he was asked if McClain had given him “any insight into what his interactions” with Madigan were “that you weren’t privy to personally?” He allegedly replied: “No, that wouldn’t — that wouldn’t happen.”

He also claimed McClain hadn’t told him “what he was discussing with (Madigan) or anything that he was doing on behalf of (Madigan)” and said he didn’t recall “any sort of tasks or assignments” McClain would have performed for Madigan from 2017 to 2019.

Recorded phone calls between Mapes and McClain showed that they had discussed these issues.

Transcripts of Mapes’ grand jury testimony show he was asked specifically about the Lang situation.

“But after Mr. McClain retired, say, 2017, 2018 and 2019, did you know him to have any contact with Mr. Lang for any purpose?” Mapes responded: “I don’t know of any.”

However, jurors heard a handful of phone conversations from October 2018 in which McClain said he’d been given an “assignment” to “tell Lou Lang that he has no life in the House anymore.” On another call days later, Mapes asked if McClain had “delivered the bad news” to Lang yet.

Mapes’ defense attorneys called four witnesses — including his wife, Bronwyn Rains, and an Illinois State University professor who testified about how human memory works — and presented their case in a single day Tuesday.

They contend that Mapes never lied under oath, but answered as best he could in responding to vague and imprecise questions.

During his own closing arguments, Mapes’ defense attorney, Andrew Porter, said his client had no knowledge of any crimes Madigan and McClain may have committed related to the grand jury’s investigation and answered truthfully when asked about this.

“He can’t remember what he doesn’t know,” Porter said.

According to Porter, when Mapes said he didn’t recall information during his grand jury questioning, that was because those questions centered on topics that were “insignificant” to Mapes.

Porter portrayed Mapes as being outside the speaker’s innermost circle after his 2018 resignation. He said that while Mapes and Madigan had a close professional relationship, that didn’t extend to their personal lives.

Madigan was a very private person, and while he and McClain would regularly meet and discuss business alone, according to Porter, Mapes wasn’t privy to those discussions.

“If they were talking about criminality,” Porter said, “that was between them.”

For Mapes to be the government's “star witness” as Schwartz suggested, he would have had to have known about crimes Madigan committed, according to Porter, but instead, no such evidence was ever presented.

Mapes opted not to testify in his own defense.

It took attorneys on both sides 11 days to select a jury, present evidence and rest their respective cases.

In order to convict Mapes, jurors must determine that not only did he give false answers to the grand jury in 2021, but that he intended to do so and didn’t simply misremember or misstate things when providing his answers.

McClain was previously convicted this year — along with three other former Commonwealth Edison officials — of scheming to bribe Madigan in order to get his support on ComEd’s legislative agenda in Springfield. He is expected to be sentenced early next year before he goes to trial again, this time alongside Madigan, in a racketeering case next April.

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson[email protected] | (773) 509-5431

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