Prosecution Begins Cross-Examination, Blagojevich Cannot Give De - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Prosecution Begins Cross-Examination, Blagojevich Cannot Give Definitive Answers

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Prosecutor Reid Schar began cross-examination in the retrial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich by having Blagojevich admit that he's a convicted liar. Later, the prosecutor asked, "is it fair to say, that as a politician, not infrequently, you lie to the public?” The prosecution got its first crack at Blagojevich with about an hour left in court on Thursday, right before court adjourned for a three-day weekend.

Complete Rod Blagojevich Trial Coverage >>

Key Points:

  • Under defense questioning, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich continued testifying that he was undecided on who to appoint to the Senate and was just brainstorming ideas when he talked to his advisers about potential deals he could make, including suggesting he would go to Afghanistan to hunt Osama bin Laden.
  • The defense ran through a series of calls with Blagojevich Thursday as the former governor explained how he was bouncing ideas of people in them.  He compared wanting the Health and Human Services secretary position as dreaming of playing the the outfield for the Chicago Cubs and said, hearing the tapes, “I see how idiotic I sometimes am. What was I even thinking about there? Wasting time,” Blagojevich said.
  • Blagojevich testified he had a wishlist of things he wanted from Mike Madigan in exchange for appointing Lisa Madigan to the Senate, including the capital bill, healthcare expansion, no new taxes and homeowner relief.  The Madigan deal was his priority, Blagojevich testified, and he wanted D.C. politicians to think he was "crazy enough" to appoint himself, Jesse Jackson Jr. or Emil Jones so they would help him get the Madigan deal done.
  • Blagojevich's team filed three motions Thursday, including one motion asking to admit his conviction of lying to federal agents as evidence.
  • Judge James Zagel accused Blagojevich of "stalling" on the witness stand Wednesday , and said he may allow prosecutors to start their cross-examination before the defense is finished.
  • Zagel also scolded the defense for "smuggling" in testimony that he already told them they could not use, including implying that the government had removed parts of recorded conversations that could prove Blagojevich’s innocence.
  • Blagojevich’s testimony Wednesday focused on allegations he tried to sell the senate seat of President Barack Obama, which Blagojevich denied on the stand. Blagojevich testified he was merely brainstorming different ideas and bouncing them off his advisers. After questioning Blagojevich on each day of calls, the defense would ask Blagojevich if he had made up his mind at that point, part of why the judge said Blagojevich was stalling.
  • Blagojevich has been testifying for three and a half days, entering his fourth full day of testimony, and legal reporter Larry Yellen said jurors seemed to be taking less notes at the end of the day Wednesday and Blagojevich seemed more tired than in his previous days of testimony.

 

UPDATE:  5:18 p.m. 
Schar went on to ask Blagojevich about Dec. 8, 2008. Blagojevich said again, as of Dec. 8, he had not made a decision about the senate seat.

The prosecution asked Blagojevich about a call he had with Harris on that day.

The defense asked for the tab or session number, so they could find the transcript. This is the call Blagojevich just testified about at the end of his direct examination. It was played in court.

The prosecution asked if Blagojevich told Harris not to reach out to anyone, and to think about the tactics of appointing the senate seat.

Blagojevich asked to see transcript. Blagojevich confirmed he did ask Harris to think about the tactics, and said he told Harris he should not have reached out to Emanuel.

Blagojevich testified that he wrote in his book about how he wanted Harris to reach out to Emanuel on this matter.

Blagojevich said he wrote a book about his experiences, before he could hear all the conversations on the FBI tapes. He said he stands by the book – it is as accurate as possible.

The pros said Blagojevich wrote in his book, on Dec. 8, 2008, he told Harris he had selected his senate seat choice and directed him to reach out to the parties to see if they could work out the deal.

Blagojevich was asked to show the call transcript, where he directed Harris to reach out to the parties in the Madigan deal. (Note: Blagojevich just testified he told Harris he should not have reached out to Emanuel.)

The prosecution asked Blagojevich if he went to bed on Dec. 8 thinking they were going to make the Madigan deal. Blagojevich said he was not going to wait until Jan. 6, 2009 to make the appointment if he could get it done sooner. He also said he went to bed thinking they were close to possibly making the deal.

The prosecution asked Blagojevich if he knew Rezko had been arrested, as of Dec. 8. Blagojevich said he did know, and that Rezko was going to be sentenced on Jan 6. Blagojevich said that was why he picked Jan. 6 as the deadline to make the senate seat appointment. 

Schar asked Blagojevich if he was concerned that he was cooperating against him. Blagojevich asked what that meant.

The prosecution clarified, asking if Blagojevich was concerned Rezko was talking to FBI agents about him. Blagojevich rambled, and finally confirmed.

They asked Blagojevich about the call behind tab 5, which the defense just played during his direct examination. The prosecution asked what Blagojevich and Greenlee discussed next.  

Blagojevich said he wanted to wait until Jan. 6, 2009, or make the senate seat appointment sooner if the Madigan deal went through.

The prosecution read the call transcript back, where Blagojevich said he would wait to make the senate seat appointment until Rezko was sentenced, in case he needs to appoint himself to senate seat. Blagojevich said yes, he said that. 

The prosecution asked to play the next portion of that call, to find out what Blagojevich said next.

Judge Zagel said court was done for the day. The prosecution will play the tape on Monday.

The jury left the room, and Zagel met with the attorneys.

The defense said they asked to play the same call the prosecution wants to play next. The prosecution said the defense had the portion they wanted in their binder and read the transcript in court, but did not play the tape. 

Zagel said this cross-examination is going to be a mess if Blagojevich does not change how he responds to the prosecution’s questions, especially if he responds before his attorneys can object.

The judge said this method of answering makes it harder for anyone to remember the question. Zagel said he is going to consider Blagojevich having waived his right to objection, except in certain circumstances.

When Zagel asked the prosecution how long their cross-examination will take, the prosecution said it may last until the "leaves start turning" if it keeps going like questioning did today. Otherwise, they expect their examination to go through Tuesday, June 7. 

Sorosky argued that the prosecution may not be asking its cross-examination questions the right way, and suggested that was the reason they did not cover much ground Thursday.

The judge said that only applies to two questions the prosecution asked.

The prosecution asked if the defense has any more witnesses to call, because they will probably have a rebuttal case.

The defense said yes, they will have few more witnesses, with short testimony.

Court has finished for the day. 

 

UPDATE:  4:39 p.m. 
Blagojevich said he wanted to see the transcript of the rest of the press conference, but the prosecution said he can look at it over the weekend, and they should focus on the lie he just told.

Blagojevich said he could not say if he lied without seeing the rest of the transcript, so he can answer the rest of the question honestly.

The prosecution said Blagojevich's mantra about the senate seat was, "Whatever is good for the people of Illinois and good for me." Blagojevich said this in a Nov. 4, 2008 phone call with Harris. Blagojevich repeated the mantra and said yes.

The prosecution asked if it was all about Blagojevich – he confirmed. The prosecution said his oath said nothing about doing good things for himself. Blagojevich said good things for the people of Illinois are also good for him, and that was why the Madigan deal looked good to him.

Blagojevich asked to see transcript from the press conference again.

The prosecution asked if he told anyone else he was considering the HHS seat for the senate seat. Blagojevich said he did not want to answer because he has not seen press conference transcript.

The prosecution asked Blagojevich about his process for picking the Obama senate replacement. The prosecution asked Blagojevich if he ever said "The internal process mirrors the external process.” Blagojevich asked if he's quoting him directly, and again to see the transcript.

Blagojevich asked what the prosecution meant by that question, and the prosecution said those were his exact words.

Blagojevich then said the senior staff was going to help him make the decision, and they were trying to line up the internal and external process. But nothing is perfect.

The prosecution asked if Blagojevich purposely kept the "good for me" part of his mantra from the public. Blagojevich talked but did not really answer the question.

The prosecution read more form the Nov. 4, 2008 call, asking if Blagojevich agreed with Harris, where Harris indicated that he should appear focused on what was good for the public, and not mention the "good for me part."

Blagojevich said he never told the public he had his staff do research ambassadorships, non profits, considering change to win, wanted a salary of $750,000, wife could be a lobbyist if he took senate seat, considered appointing a place holder to senate seat in case he was impeached and could parachute there later.

Blagojevich said no, he did not mention any of this to the public. Blagojevich said he did publicly talk about a 501c4.

The prosecution asked if Blagojevich said the Nov 5 press conference was "an effort to be transparent." Blagojevich said he may have said that, and then asked yet again to see a transcript.

 

UPDATE:  4:24 p.m. 
The prosecution asked Blagojevich about an interview he did three months ago, where he said he did not have a court reporter. Blagojevich said the FBI never talked to him about his first interview. He said it was set up through his attorneys.

The prosecution asked again if he does not remember the FBI offering to record the whole interview. Blagojevich said, "Asked and answered."

Blagojevich told the judge he does not remember the FBI offering to record the first interview.

The prosecution asked if Blagojevich remembered the FBI offering to record second interview. Blagojevich said he does not recall, but a court reporter was there.

The prosecution asked if, as a politician, Blagojevich frequently lied. They then withdrew the question before the defense could object.

Attorney Schar then asked, if Blagojevich, as a politician, frequently sends mixed messages. Blagojevich said he tries to be as truthful a possible.

The prosecution asked about a Nov. 10, 2008 phone call with Scofield, where Blagojevich tells Scofield to put into paper that he had a conversation over the weekend with Jackson Jr.

Blagojevich asked to see which call the prosecution was referring to. This sis the call where Blagojevich wanted to plant the message in Sneed’s column about Jackson Jr. being considered for senate seat.

When pros said that was a lie, Blagojevich said in politics that is called a misdirection.

Blagojevich said he had several conversations with Jackson Jr., but not that weekend.

Blagojevich said he did not see this as a lie he could get away with, because no one would contradict him. Blagojevich said he was floating this information for political reasons. He said he did not think that far ahead, to see if anyone would contradict him.

The prosecution said Blagojevich did think that far head, and read from the transcript where Blagojevich tells Harris and Quinlan about Scofield trying to get the weekend conversation in Sneed’s column.

When he was asked in the call, about if he spoke to Jackson Jr., Blagojevich said no and added, “Who's going to contradict that?"

Blagojevich asked to see call transcript. He said this is the quarterback faking a throw and then going long.

The prosecution said Blagojevich was trying to deceive the public, but Blagojevich denied that statement.

Schar then asked if Blagojevich was interested in taking the senate seat - Blagojevich said yes.

The prosecution asked Blagojevich if he was honest at the press conferences. Blagojevich said he tried to be, given all the political nuances.

The prosecution asked about the Nov. 5, 2008 press conference where Blagojevich was asked if he was interested in the senate seat. Blagojevich said "I'm not interested.”

He testified that he did not lie because he was not sure if he was interested at the time.

Blagojevich wanted to know if he was looking at the camera or a reporter during the press conference. The pros played a clip from the conference.  

 

UPDATE:  4:10 p.m. 
The prosecution began the cross examination when court returned from the break. Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar performed the cross.

Schar opened by asking if Blagojevich was a convicted liar. Blagojevich confirmed.

The prosecution asked if, within hours of being arrested, Blagojevich lied to the FBI again. At the press conference he had the day of his conviction, Blagojevich said his arrest was unfair. Blagojevich said he had a strong opinion about the arrest and conviction, and that is why there are appellate courts.

Blagojevich said he made that statement because he wanted people to know the truth.

He said he wanted to tell the public that the FBI would not allow a court reporter in the room when he was questioned by the FBI about campaign financing, and that was unfair.

Judge Zagel told Blagojevich to answer the prosecution’s questions with yes or no answers.

The prosecution said that what Blagojevich did not tell the public, was that the FBI agreed to record the whole interview. Blagojevich said FBI never told him that.

Blagojevich told the court that he said court reporter, not recording equipment,, and there is a difference. Blagojevich admits there was a court reporter at his second FBI interview.

The prosecution said Blagojevich is the one who refused to have first interview recorded. Blagojevich said his attorneys advised him to have a court reporter...

The prosecution asked Blagojevich if he did not tell the press that the FBI offered to record the first interview. Blagojevich refused to give a yes or no answer, and said he does not remember seeing any recording equipment.

The prosecution asked if Blagojevich has no recollection of FBI offering to record interview. Blagojevich said again, that he does not remember any recording equipment being present.

The prosecution asked the same question a third time, and Blagojevich gave the same answer.

 

UPDATE:  3:53 p.m. 
Blagojevich said the photos were of the various people he discussed as possible senate seat picks.

Goldstien asked approximately how many candidates Blagojevich considered for senate seat from Oct. 2008 to Dec. 9, 2008. The prosecution objected, which the judge sustained.

Blagojevich said he never made a decision, never attempted to shake down anyone for senate seat.

Goldstein asked about what happened on Dec. 9, 2008. Blagojevich began to answer, when the prosecution objected.

Goldstein approached the witness a different way, asking if he was arrested the next day. Blagojevich said yes, he was.

The court then took a short break.

 

UPDATE:  3:46 p.m. 
The defense then played the call from Dec. 8, 2008 at 8:43 p.m. between Greenlee and Blagojevich.

In the call, Blagojevich said to Greenlee that Harris told him about his conversation with Emanuel.

He said that he knew Emanuel had called Harris first, leaving a message for Harris to call Emanuel back immediately.

Blagojevich said he was relaying this call to Greenlee as Harris told it to him. Emanuel, Durbin and Axelrod met earlier on Dec. 8, 2008 and discussed Madigan for the senate seat. He said that Emanuel would broker the deal, and Emanuel just needed permission from Obama to do it.

Blagojevich said Greenlee told him he was playing it out the right way, and that Washington was nervous that Jackson Jr. was going to be appointed if they did not step in.

Blagojevich said he went to bed that night thinking he was a day or two away from making the Madigan deal.

Goldstein showed a series of photos, which Blagojevich identified. Blagojevich asked "Where's Oprah?" as he looked through them.

 

UPDATE:  3:40 p.m. 
Goldstein then questioned Blagojevich about the transcript from the Dec. 8, 2008 call at 8:29 a.m.

Blagojevich said he did not want Emanuel to be thrilled with news of meeting with Jackson Jr.

Blagojevich wanted Emanuel's help with the Madigan deal, and wanted Emanuel to think he might be crazy enough to appoint Jackson Jr. to the senate seat.

Blagojevich said Jackson Jr. appearing at Blagojevich's poverty summit the next day would give the impression Blagojevich and Jackson Jr. are mending their relationship, and make Washington even more nervous.

Again, Blagojevich said he had made no decision on the senate seat at that time, and said Lisa Madigan was still the front runner.

In the call, Blagojevich said he had to make this decision, and he had to act in the next few days (Dec. 9 or 10), and wanted to know how Harris left things with Emanuel.

When Blagojevich asked Harris about the Madigan deal, and if they should do it, Blagojevich said he told Harris its time to walk the walk.

Blagojevich said he was happy that Harris still suggested asking the question on the Madigan deal, and they needed to figure out how to do it. Blagojevich mentioned to Harris that Reinsdorf said Emanuel should ask.

Blagojevich testified about this call earlier in the trial on Thursday.

On the stand, Blagojevich said he wanted to get Emanuel to go to Madigan, to broker this deal because Reinsdorf thought that if it came from Emanuel, then Madigan might be more open to the deal.

When Blagojevich said Chico would be his pick if he had to do it today, he said Chico would be his pick if the Madigan deal did not happen - he would be the first Hispanic senator for Iiinois.

Blagojevich said again that he still had not made any decision on the senate seat, because he still needed Emanuel to say he'd broker the Madigan deal and then they would have been off and running. 

 

UPDATE:  3:24 p.m. 
The defense played the call from Dec. 8, 2008 at 8:29 a.m. between Rod Blagojevich and John Harris.

In this call, Harris said Emanuel had a little panic in his voice when he spoke to him, because Emanuel had heard Blagojevich was going to appoint Emil Jones to the senate seat. Harris said he told Emanuel no, but it was not a definitive no.

Blagojevich asked, “Do we make a move on Madigan or what?” Harris said he thought it was worth asking the question.

Blagojevich told Harris that Reinsdorf asked if they could get Emanuel to ask Madigan directly. Then Blagojevich asked Harris what he thought - Harris said it was a workable strategy.

Blagojevich then mentioned Cheryle Jackson's name again, and said if he had to pick today, it would be Gerry Chico. Harris said he could live with that.

The defense finished playing the call.

 

UPDATE:  3:18 p.m. 
Goldstein asked Blagojevich about when he first learned that Wyma may have worn a wire to record conversations with him.

Blagojevich testified that he got a call from Lucio Guerro on Dec. 4, 2008 at 10:29 p.m. He said that was when Guerro told him about the story the Chicago Tribune was working on.

They then asked about a call from Dec. 5, 2008 made at 7:25 a.m. between Blagojevich, his brother Robert, and his wife, Patty.

In this call, Rob Blagojevich said he was to meet with Nayak at 1 p.m. that day. Robert said he was not sure if he should meet with him, given the news article.

Blagojevich said he was not sure if the meeting should take place, since the two brothers would not have time to meet to go over how Robert should talk to Nayak beforehand.

Blagojevich said his brother should just talk to Nayak at the India House fundraiser on Dec. 6, 2008, the next day.

Despite that comment, Blagojevich said there were no fundraising discussions at this event.

Goldstein then asked about call from Dec. 5, 2008 made at 9:36 a.m. between the two Blagojevich brothers.

Blagojevich said he confirmed with his brother that he had cancelled the meeting with Nayak for 1 p.m. that day, because they could not meet beforehand.

From Dec. 4 to Dec. 8, 2008, Blagojevich testified Lisa Madigan was the No. 1 senate choice but no decisions had been made.

Goldstein went on to ask Blagojevich about Dec. 8, 2008. Blagojevich said he talked to Harris that morning. Goldstein played a call from that day.

In this call, Harris said he talked to Emanuel Emanuel, and told Emanuel they would meet with Jackson Jr. that day.

Emanuel did not seem thrilled. Blagojevich said Emanuel asked about the Madigan deal. Harirs said it was a long shot, and that Emanuel said he may have to do it on faith.

Harris says no, that Emanuel then threw out Cheryle Jackson’s name. Jackson was a former Blagojevich press person.

In this call, Harris said again that he told Emanuel they are meeting with Jackson Jr., and that was all.

Harris also mentioned that Tammy Duckworth was coming in to see Harris that day, and that Harris was running interference for Blagojevich.

In this call, Blagojevich said he liked Duckworth, Alexi Giannoulias, Lisa Madigan and Jackson Jr. for the senate seat. 

 

UPDATE:  2:49 p.m. 
Next, Goldstein asked Blagojevich about the call from Dec. 4, 2008 made at 2:43 p.m. between the Blagojevich brothers.

In this call, Blagojevich told his brother Robert Blagojevich that he is going to elevate Jackson Jr. and that the Washington establishment was "freaking out."

They also talked about the Rassmussan poll that lists Jackson Jr. as front runner for senate seat appointment, with the most public support...

Blagojevich testified that he was not talking about fundraising when he mentioned tangible support from Jackson Jr. supporters.

 This is the call where Blagojevich told his brother to be careful, "because the whole world is listening."

Blagojevich testified that he said this to his brother because since he is in politics, this is a phrase he used all the time.

On the day of this call, Blagojevich said he wanted to see a mortgage foreclosure bill passed. He said it was on his mind along with Springfield gridlock - his words were outpacing his ideas.

Blagojevich testified that he called Robert to talk about his "negative leverage plan" for the senate seat.

The negative leverage plan is where they needed to make the people in Washington think Blagojevich was going to appoint Jackson Jr. to senate seat, to get them to broker the Madigan deal for Blagojevich.

He told his brother to meet with Ragu Nayak in person, not over the phone, to avoid any communication problems, given the language barrier. He said his brother could properly explain Blagojevich's idea.

Blagojevich testified he still was not sure how to execute this plan, and that he would talk to Robert later about what to say and how to say it.

The defense played the call.

After this call with his brother, Blagojevich said his top senate picks were Lisa Madigan and then possibly Whittaker, Danny Davis or Gery Chico. He testified that he was never going to appoint Jackson Jr.

 

UPDATE:  2:41 p.m. 
Goldstein asked about call from Dec. 4, 2008 made at 2:36 p.m. between Blagojevich and Greenlee.

Blagojevich testified that Yang that Jackson Jr. got a higher ranking for senate seat consideration, or he was elevated on the list. Blagojevich had told him earlier that Jackson Jr. was not an option.

So Blagojevich told Yang that Jackson Jr. was back in the running. Blagojevich wanted Yang to tell Knapp, who would tell Reid, to get Washington to broker the Madigan deal for him. Blagojevich told Greenlee he had to be careful and not to contradict him.

Blagojevich testified that Greenlee did not realize the play Blagojevich was trying to make to get Washington to broker the Madigan deal, and that Blagojevich did not plan on appointing Jackson Jr. to the senate seat.

Blagojevich said he was "jacking up Jackson Jr." in a way that Washington might think Blagojevich would appoint him to senate seat.

Goldstein played the call. In this call, Blagojevich reprimanded Greenlee for disagreeing with him in front of Yang, in an earlier call.

 

UPDATE:  2:35 p.m. 
The defense turned to a call from 2:09 p.m. on Dec. 4 between Blagojevich, Yang and Bob Greenlee. Blagojevich testified Yang was “very much” against appointing Jackson Jr. to the Senate.

Blagojevich said Yang was concerned about appointing Jackson Jr because he hadn’t lived up to political promises to Blagojevich before.

In the call, when Blagojevich referenced “tangible things” that could happen before the appointment of Jackson Jr., Blagojevich testified there was “political support” he could see up front and he was not talking about the $1.5 million in campaign funds.

Blagojevich did not directly address the quotes that “there's tangible, concrete tangible stuff from supporters,” or “specific amounts and everything... some of it up front.” Blagojevich said he understood he would receive political support from the Jackson Jr. political camp.

In the call, Blagojevich and Yang go on to talk about other possible senate candidates like Eric Whitaker. Yang says in the call that Blagojevich as “two equally repugnant picks,” and Blagojevich said he’d like to Jackson Jr. and Lisa Madigan to the list of people he’d like to apologize to, along with the Russians and Macedonians.

Blagojevich testified the tangible political support he’d like to see from Jackson jr. was to stand publically with him to say he would help break the political gridlock in Springfield. Blagojevich said he wanted to see the support up front because Jackson Jr. had lied to him on several occasions.

Blagojevich testified he only wanted to see the political support of the Madigan deal didn’t happen.

In the call, Blagojevich went on to say Gery Chico was the best pick for him, but he does nothing for Blagojevich politically, so Madigan was still the top choice followed by either Blagojevich or Jackson Jr.

Blagojevich said again that the Madigan deal was the first option. He testified in court that he really wanted that deal to happen.

If that deal does not happen, Blagojevich said in the call, that he wanted Jesse Jackson Jr. to show him some support up front, regarding the Springfield gridlock.

Blagojevich said the Lisa Madigan deal was better than the others by "leaps and bounds," but one would have to compare the politics of appointing himself or Jackson Jr.

In the call, Blagojevich went on to say Lisa Madigan was ahead, because she could offer "tangible things" for the people of Illinois.

Blagojevich said he spoke "incessantly" with Yang about the Madigan deal.

Goldstein tried to ask about the small business tax credit on Blagojevich's Madigan wish list. The prosecution objected, and Judge Zagel sustained the objection.

 

UPDATE:  2:18 p.m. 
Resuming from lunch, the defense began questioning Blagojevich about a Dec. 4, 2008 conversation between him and Fred Yang. Blagojevich told Yang that his brother told him that Jackson Jr. supporters were offering $1.5 million in campaign contributions if Blagojevich appointed him to the Senate.

Blagojevich testified no one from the Indian community came directly to him about the exchange, and he first became aware of the possibility on Oct. 31, 2008, when his brother told him about it.

Blagojevich testified his brother correctly said no to the offer on numerous occasions, and Blagojevich had no desire to do it. On Dec. 4, Blagojevich testified, he was not going to appoint Jackson Jr.

In the call, Blagojevich said Lisa Madigan had the “leg up” over Jackson Jr. because the Madigan deal would help him do good for Illinois, whereas there still needed to be an argument as to why Jackson Jr. should be the appointee. Blagojevich goes on to say Jackson Jr. would be the fallback position if he couldn’t get the Madigan deal.

The defense turned to a call from 11:23 a.m. on Dec. 4, 2008 between Blagojevich and John Harris. In the call, Blagojevich tells Harris if you look at the politics of it, you can lay out a pretty impressive deal with Jackson Jr. Blagojevich says a deal with Jackson Jr. could include some work with State Sen. Rev. James Meeks, also. Blagojevich said Meeks did some good work, but was talking about running against Blagojevich in the next election.

Blagojevich also said appointing Jackson Jr. would strengthen his African-American voter base.

Blagojevich testified he wanted Harris to check with Emanuel to ask if Emanuel would be okay with Jackson Jr. being appointed to the Senate and to let Emanuel know Blagojevich was meeting with Jackson Jr. on Dec. 8. Blagojevich testified this was part of his strategy to get D.C. to broker the Madigan deal.

 

UPDATE:  12:41 p.m. 
Blagojevich testified it was “vital” to tell Harry Reid that Jackson Jr. was pushing for the senate seat appointment because D.C. politicians didn’t want him, thinking he wouldn’t be re-elected in two years. Blagojevich said he needed to let D.C. think he was “crazy” enough to appoint either Jackson Jr., himself or Emil Jones so they would help him broker the Madigan deal.

Blagojevich said he needed Mike Madigan help him with his agenda first before he would appoint Lisa Madigan to the Senate to make sure he would hold up his end of the deal, which is why he wanted D.C. to monitor the deal.

On Dec. 3, 2008, Blagojevich testified he spoke with Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez about the senate seat and Menendez reiterated they didn’t want a “place-holder” candidate appointed to the seat.

After Blagojevich told Menendez about the Madigan deal, Blagojevich testified, Menendez said they don’t usually get involved in local fights, but might in this case because Lisa Madigan was someone who could be re-elected and was the type of candidate they wanted. Blagojevich testified they did not talk about Jackson Jr. in the conversation.

Blagojevich said he also spoke that day with John Coley, head of the Chicago Teamsters, and Coley thought the Madigan deal was a good idea given Blagojevich’s political situation.

Blagojevich testified he talked to Coley because he wanted labor leaders to know he “was prepared” to make the Madigan decision, and he thought it would be harder for Madigan to back out of the deal (a fear Blagojevich still had) after the Teamsters approached him.

Also Dec. 3, Blagojevich testified he talked to Jerry Reinsdorf about who should be the emissary to approach Madigan, and they agreed Rahm Emanuel would be better than Sen. Dick Durbin because Durbin wasn’t tough enough.

On Dec. 4 to 5, 2008, Blagojevich said he talked to John Harris about Harris telling Emanuel Jackson Jr. was a possible appointee. Blagojevich testified he wanted Emanuel to know that because Jackson Jr. was not on the list of four candidates suggested by the Obama administration, list Blagojevich called a “phone, cover-your-backside list.”

Blagojevich testified he wanted the administration to think he was “crazy” enough to appoint either Jackson Jr., himself or Emil Jones if the White House wouldn’t help him. Jackson Jr. was the frontrunner in public opinion polls, Blagojevich said, and was his motivation to get D.C. to help him get the Madigan deal done.

Court then broke for lunch.

 

UPDATE:  12:34 p.m. 
The defense asked Blagojevich about a conversation he had with Doug Scofield at 3:41 p.m. on Nov. 13, 2008 . Blagojevich testified that Scofield thought Jarrett was the only “worthwhile” senate seat candidate because the Obama administration could offer something in return.

Blagojevich testified he never instructed anyone to do a senate seat deal in exchange for a 501 (c)(4) and he had not made up his mind at the time about who to appoint.

Blagojevich said before, during and after Nov. 13, 2008, he talked about a lot of ideas on who to appoint and Lisa Madigan was “always on [his] mind.”

Blagojevich testified in a Nov. 14, 2008 conversation he had with Bob Greenlee he may have mentioned appointing himself to the Senate and going to Afghanistan to track down Bin Laden.

In the conversation, Blagojevich testified, he asked Greenlee to make a list of what to ask for in exchange for the senate seat if the Madigan deal happened. The list included the capital bill, which included 500,000 new jobs among other things; healthcare expansion; budget relief, with no income or sales tax increases; homeowner relief and help for people being foreclosed on; and additional policy priorities like early education funding, carbon reduction and help for small business owners.

Blagojevich testified it was his “perfect” list of what to ask for, and he asked for everything they could think of should they begin to negotiate with Madigan. None of it could get done without Mike Madigan’s help, Blagojevich said.

Blagojevich testified in early Dec. 2008, he went to a governors meeting in Philadelphia and discussed the senate seat while there with Greenlee and Fred Yang.

Blagojevich testified they discussed Lisa Madigan a lot, along with Dr. Eric Whitaker, Danny Davis and Gery Chico. They all agreed Lisa Madigan was the “first option, if they could get it,” Blagojevich testified.

Even so, Blagojevich said again, he had not yet made a decision about the seat because he still had to get through some “petty things first,” and the next day something happened that knocked Lisa Madigan off the list for a few hours.

Blagojevich testified at the time, Mike Madigan was not talking to him and would send someone from his staff to meetings instead of coming himself. Madigan was “thawing” during the Democratic National Convention, Blagojevich said, but both of them still had a mutual mistrust of each other. Blagojevich added he thought about reaching out to Madigan but decided not to.

Blagojevich testified he thought about picking Jackson Jr. for the senate seat because picking Lisa Madigan might hurt his relationship with his African-American and Latino voting bases.

Several key lawmakers in D.C. didn’t want Blagojevich to appoint himself, Jesse Jackson Jr. or Emil Jones to the Senate, Blagojevich testified, because they wanted someone who could be re-elected and someone whom they wouldn’t have to raise money for.

Blagojevich testified Harry Reid called him on Dec. 2, 2008 and they talked about the senate seat. Blagojevich said he understood Reid didn’t want Jackson Jr. appointed to the Senate based on what Bill Knapp had told him previously, so he told Reid he was aware of that and sensitive to the situation.

Blagojevich testified he told Harry Reid about the Madigan deal by repeating a conversation he with Dick Durbin about it, but did not specifically mention Lisa Madigan. He said Reid understood who he was talking about.

Again, Blagojevich said he had not made a decision about the senate seat, but it “was looking better and better” after his call with Reid.

 

UPDATE:  11:52 a.m. 
The defense then questioned Blagojevich about a series of calls from Nov. 12, 2008. At 10:47 a.m. , Blagojevich and Tom Balanoff discuss the nonprofit idea and Balanoff says he thinks others might not like the idea as much as him. Blagojevich says he could appoint himself. Blagojevich testified he cautioned Balanoff to not promise anything because Blagojevich had not made up his mind about the appointment.

At 10:50 a.m. , Blagojevich tells his wife, Patti that he wants the 501 (c)(4) thing and “she can be a senator.” Blagojevich testified he was giving Patti shorthand on what he and Balanoff discussed. Blagojevich also tells Patti in the call that despite a poll showing him to be the frontrunner, there was no way he would appoint Jesse Jackson Jr.

In a call from 12:36 p.m. , Blagojevich and John Harris talked about Blagojevich’s criteria and priorities in making the appointment. Blagojevich tells Harris in the call his priorities were first, his legal situation, his family and then his work in politics.

In a call from 5:30 p.m. , Blagojevich recounts a meeting Harris had with Emil Jones, and Harris told Jones that if Blagojevich appoints him to the Senate, Jones shouldn’t forget Blagojevich and should help pass his agenda. Harris also told Jones that he could get his political supporters to help Blagojevich, and joked to Blagojevich about what he was going to with “this big bucket of money.”

Blagojevich testified he did not tell Harris to talk to Jones about big buckets of money. It had previously been alleged that Blagojevich considered appointing Jones to the senate seat so Jones would give Blagojevich the money in his campaign war chest.

Blagojevich testified Harris told him that Jones also realized Blagojevich could appoint himself to the senate seat, which Blagojevich jokingly said to Jones. Harris said Jones didn’t think Blagojevich was joking. Blagojevich testified it was important that Jones needed to know he was joking, because the legislature was in a veto session and could take away Blagojevich’s power to make the senate seat appointment.

In a call from 12:21 p.m. on Nov. 13, 2008 , Blagojevich tells Doug Scofield the Obama administration does not want either Blagojevich or Jackson Jr. in D.C.

Blagojevich testified his strategic goal was to find out if Rahm Emanuel was going to help him later, but he made it clear to Scofield that when Scofiedl talked to Emanuel, he should indicate Blagojevich wouldn’t do anything for Emanuel in connection with the senate seat. Blagojevich testified he told Scofield not to connect the seat to anything because he didn’t want Scofield to give off the impression that Blagojevich had made a decision when he hadn’t.

In a call from 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 13, 2008 , Harris suggests John Wyma should talk to Emanuel because they had a relationship. Blagojevich testified he didn’t want to talk to Emanuel because he thought Emanuel wouldn’t have time as Obama’s new chief of staff, and he didn’t want Emanuel to feel uncomfortable saying no to Blagojevich.

Blagojevich testified he was being sensitive to Emanuel by having Wyma make the call because it would be easier for Emanuel to say no to Wyma and Blagojevich didn’t expect Emanuel to say yes to the 501 (c)(4) idea. Blagojevich had made no decision on this day, he testified.

In a call from 12:35 p.m. that day between Blagojevich and Scofield, Blagojevich testified he wanted to be clear to Scofield that any help Emanuel could offer in connection with setting up a nonprofit was unrelated to the senate seat appointment and that Blagojevich had not made a decision yet. Blagojevich testified he was just getting ideas.

Blagojevich testified he wanted Wyma to put the idea into Emanuel’s head and get an answer as to whether Emanuel would help.

Blagojevich testified he thought Scofield was trying to connect the two and he wanted to make it “abundantly clear” to Scofield not to do that, because Blagojevich hadn’t made up his mind and didn’t want to make a promise he couldn’t keep.

 

UPDATE:  11:33 a.m. 
The defense turned to a call from 10:34 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2008 between Blagojevich and Tom Balanoff.

In the call, Blagojevich says Obama had a third party call John Harris to let them know Valerie Jarrett was going to take a White House position instead of the Senate, and Blagojevich thought Emanuel was pushing Jarrett for the senate seat because he wanted her out of the way of his influence over Obama. Balanoff responds that’s “further than they would let me say.”

Blagojevich testified he tested the idea for a 501 (c)(4) nonprofit organization with Balanoff in the call because Balanoff had good judgment. Blagojevich testified he already had plans to set one up because he had done one before and was interested in doing it anyway.

Blagojevich testified Bill Quinlan told him he could set up a 501 (c)(4) in connection with the Senate seat because it was not legal to do so, but the judge sustained an objection from the prosecution and reminded the defense they can’t argue no one told Blagojevich it wasn’t legal.

Blagojevich testified that the morning before the call, it was announced that Jarrett was taking a White House position. He said Balanoff told him in this all that he was going to take the nonprofit idea and “run it up the flag pole.”

In a call with Bill Quinlan, Blagojevich testified, he told Quinlan he was going to talk to Balanoff about the idea and Quinlan said good, “he’s the one to talk to.”

 

UPDATE:  10:59 a.m. 
The defense asked Blagojevich about a call from 9:37 a.m. on Nov. 11, 2008 between him and Doug Scofield . In the call, Blagojevich testified, he was testing the idea of setting up a 501 (c)(4) as an advocacy tool for children’s health care.

Blagojevich testified when, in the call, he says if he doesn’t get anything back from Obama he’ll go in another direction and Scofield tells him to leverage the seat for what is most helpful to him, he was double checking with Scofield by asking him if he agrees with doing it. Blagojevich testified Scofield said yes, telling him to make the deal.

Blagojevich testified he thought Valerie Jarrett would be a good senator but that she’d back the Obama agenda first instead of the Blagojevich’s agenda for the State of Illinois. Blagojevich testified both he and Scofield agreed Blagojevich could “do more good” for the people of Illinois by appointing another senate candidate.

Blagojevich testified he thought setting up a 501 (c)(4) for children’s health care would do some good.

Blagojevich testified when Scofield said in the call, “we're all your friends, who want you to leverage this,” Blagojevich understood Scofield to be saying Scofield and his advisers wanted him to do so.

The defense then played the call again for the jury.

The defense then questioned Blagojevich about a call from 7:40 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2008 between Blagojevich and Harris .

In the call, Blagojevich tells Harris he wants to get the 501 (c)(4) up and running now rather than wait until he’s out of office, and he and Quinlan were working on a board of directors for it. The judge did not allow Blagojevich to testify he had been thinking about setting up the nonprofit already and had set up a similar one in 2007.

Blagojevich testified when, in the call, he talks about getting Bill Gates or George Soros giving money, that it would to go the organization and not Blagojevich himself. Blagojevich testified the idea to announce the nonprofit and the Jarrett appointment at the same press conference “was an idea. That’s all it was”

Blagojevich testified he hadn’t made any decisions about the senate seat at that point.

Blagojevich says in the call they should start looking for an “African-American Tammy Duckworth,” and Blagojevich testified he was going back to an idea he and Harris talked about even before the presidential election. Blagojevich asked to see a document to refresh his memory and the defense began looking for it while the defense continued its questioning.

Blagojevich looked at the document, which had a list of possible African-American war hero names, including Lt. Col. Duane Hayden.

In the call, Blagojevich says it’s important for him to make a lot of money for his family. Blagojevich testified he was telling Harris that he needed to go out and make a good living for his family when he was no longer governor, and that he felt guilty that his work in politics and made his family vulnerable.

Blagojevich testified he was sharing his “fears and feelings” when he asked how he was going to send his kids to college and talked about his financial situation.

 

UPDATE:  10:35 a.m. 
Blagojevich testified he had three calls with Rahm Emanuel on Nov. 8, 2008, and in one of the calls, they talked about the senate seat and Lisa Madigan as a possible appointee.

Blagojevich testified he told Emanuel the Madigan deal would be a test of what kind of person he is, meaning if Blagojevich could go through with it and “hold his nose. How much does he love the people of Illinois?” Blagojevich testified he understood Emanuel to support the idea and he seemed please Blagojevich was thinking about it.

The defense turned to questioning Blagojevich about the 501 (c)(4) plan. Blagojevich testified he constantly talked with Bill Quinlan, his counsel, including on Nov. 10 and 11, 2008, and Quinlan thought it was a good idea. Blagojevich said Quinlan had researched to see if the 501 (c)(4) idea could be part of a political deal if he appointed Jarrett to the Senate.

Blagojevich testified he talked to John Harris and Quinlan about the appointment and asked him why he should or shouldn’t pursue the idea. Blagojevich testified Quinlan said he should follow the 501 (c)(4) idea because he was more likely to get something in return.

Blagojevich started to say his conversations with Quinlan led him to believe the idea was plausible, and so he looked at other political examples, but the judge sustained an objection from the prosecution.

The defense asked Blagojevich about a call from 9:16 a.m. on Nov. 11, 2008 between Blagojevich and Harris. In the call, Harris tells Blagojevich about a call he received from Emanuel in which Emanuel said the Obama administration would be thankful and appreciative if Blagojevich appointed Jarrett.

Blagojevich confirmed he learned the next day that Jarrett was going to take a White House cabinet position instead of holding out for the senate seat. In the call, Blagojevich mentions to Harris about getting Emanuel to help put the 501 (c)(4) together because he knows people like Warren Buffett.

Blagojevich called an idea to appoint his aide to the seat because she wouldn’t run for another term one of his “manic brainstorming” ideas, and judge sustained an objection from the prosecution.

Blagojevich testified when he says in the call, “They're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. F*** them,” he was saying he didn’t like the idea of appointing Jarrett and wanted to take a serious look at his aide.

 

UPDATE:  10:01 a.m. 
Court was called into session for the day with Blagojevich still on the stand for direct examination. The defense questioned Blagojevich about a Nov. 7, 2008 phone call between him and Fred Yang .

Blagojevich testified he was just floating the idea of being appointed Health and Human Services secretary to Yang and kept talking about it even after Tom Balanoff told him it wouldn’t happen because, he testified, he was embarrassed one of his closest political supporters told him no so quickly in front of his staff.

Blagojevich repeated some of his testimony from Wednesday, that he had told Yang about some of the other political dynamics he was considering while thinking about who to appoint to the Senate, including the Madigan deal.

Blagojevich testified he never told Balanoff that Valerie Jarrett could be a senator if he got the HHS cabinet position.

In the call, Blagojevich testified both he and Yang realized the HHS idea was going nowhere and Blagojevich said on the stand, “What was I thinking, talking about that and wasting time?”

In the call, Blagojevich testified, Yang agreed the Madigan deal would solve a lot of problems and both talked about what would happen if Emil Jones didn’t get the seat. Blagojevich said Jones could undo a lot of work he wanted to get done in Springfield and that’s why he had to make the decision in late Dec. 2008 or early Jan. 2009.

Blagojevich testified he “picked up on signals” that the Obama administration did not want Jesse Jackson Jr. appointed to the seat, but others told him he was too quick to dismiss Jackson Jr. and that the administration’s fear of appointing him might help Blagojevich get some of his agenda accomplished.

Blagojevich told Balanoff in an early conversation not to worry, that he wouldn’t appoint Jackson Jr.

In the call, Blagojevich says he has to find a way to make money. Blagojevich testified he was telling Yang a federal appointment had no appeal to him and that he may as well go work in the private sector. Also in the call, Blagojevich tells Yang the Change to Win plan was Harris’ idea, calling him the “Prince of Darkness.”

Blagojevich testified Harris was a naysayer, and a glass-half empty kind of guy. Harris was also a conventional thinker, Blagojevich said, and that’s why he called him the Prince of Darkness.

In the call, Blagojevich said he told Yang that “a perfect world” for him post-governorship would be getting a job in the private sector so he could take care of his family, then later make a political comeback.

Blagojevich testified he needed to worry about his family because of federal investigations and their finances. He worries how he could send his daughter, Amy, to college.

Blagojevich testified he liked the 501 (c)(4) idea better than the Change to Win idea because it would help him get more things done.

 


Rod Blagojevich Scandal: More Key Players

Visit the "Who's Who" page to learn more about the former Illinois governor , his co-defendants, inner circle, the legal team and what people like President Obama , Sen. Dick Durbin and other high-profile people have to do with the case.


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