Jesse Jackson Jr. testified Wednesday at the corruption trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich that in 2003, Blagojevich implied he didn’t help Jackson Jr.’s wife because Jackson Jr. didn’t make a $25,000 donation to his first gubernatorial campaign. Mayor Rahm Emanuel followed with brief testimony lasting under 5 minutes.
UPDATE: 5:35 p.m.
The judge is wondering why the defense wants to admit a tape on which Blagojevich says "blah blah blah" to Fred Yang. Sorosky says this call shows Blagojevich's intent to do the Madigan deal for noble reasons. The judge says the defense should "try it from his mouth first" and doesn't think playing this tape helps the defendant.
UPDATE: 5:25 p.m.
The judge says a number of the tapes the defense wants to admit seem to be just Blagojevich talking out loud, not really talking with anyone in particular.
They discussed "Call #28," which was between Blagojevich and Chris Kelly on Thanksgiving Day, 2008; they discussed Johnston and the race track bill. Kelly committed suicide, and if this call is admitted, it will allow him to "speak from the grave."
The defense says the call shows Blagojevich's reasons for not signing the race track bill a that time, that he made his decision based on input from Kelly. The defense said Blagojevich was "skittish" about the bill after talking with Kelly. The judge said he won't rule on this call now; he wants the defense to show him later exactly what Kelly said to make Blagojevich skittish.
The defens argued that they need to play some of these tapes because "the tapes don't lie" and the jurors might think that Blagojevich "will say anything" when he's on the stand.
The defense has 52 tapes they'd like to play and the attorneys are on number 27. The judge is allowing only a few to be admitted so far.
UPDATE: 4:15 p.m.
The attorneys are continuing to argue about the tapes, and the judge is getting a little tired of it all; after the defense asks to play a call between Blagojevich and Balanoff, the judge says he's "clueless" as to why they think it's important. Sorosky says it shows Blagojevich's "state of mind" but judge says it's "woolgathering."
The judge reminds the defense that they can't have Blagojevich explain himself through the tapes. If they want to include comments Blagojevich made on the tapes, they have to put him on the stand so he can talk about it first.
UPDATE: 3:50 p.m.
The jury has gone home, and attorneys are arguing over which tapes can be played. The defense has argued that at least two tapes show Blagojevich's "state of mind" and should be allowed.
One of the tapes is between Blagojevich and former House Speaker Denny Hastert; the prosecution says this tape is not admissible because Hastert does most of the talking. The defense says it's a valid call because the Madigan deal is mentioned in it. The judge wanted to know how this tape helps Blagojevich.
As they argue about the tapes, the judge wants to know if the "Madigan deal" was more than an idea. Sorosky said there was a meeting on Dec. 8 between Emanuel, Durbin and David Axelrod where the "Madigan deal" was discussed, and that these men talked about brokering a "peace treaty" by getting donors for a 501 (c)(4) where Blagojevich could work. The judge said this idea existed only in Blagojevich's head, and there were no other conversations or documents to back it up.
UPDATE: 12:13 p.m.
FOX Chicago News Legal reporter Larry Yellen said Jackson Jr.’s testimony could be very damaging for Blagojevich. Not only was Jackson Jr. the defense’s lead witness, but they way he described the so-called Elvis snap is something jurors are likely to remember. Jackson Jr. on the stand flung out his arm and demonstrated the snap, and when defense attorney Goldstein approached him and said, “I’m sorry, I’m not that familiar with Elvis,” Jackson Jr. replied “Well you work for someone who is.”
Regardless of being reminded that Jackson Jr. testified no offers were made for the senate seat, the snap conversation is something likely to stick in juror’s minds.
Reid H. Weingarten, a partner in the D.C. office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP and attorney for Jackson, Jr., issued the following statement by Rep. Jackson after testimony Wednesday:
"As you can imagine, I have many strong feelings about this entire matter. My strongest feeling, however, is respect for our judicial system. Therefore, I will have no further comment about the case or how it has affected me until there is a verdict."
In the meantime, court was on at least a 40 minute break.
UPDATE: 11:30 a.m.
Defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky questioned Emanuel, who testified before he was elected mayor, he was chief of staff for President Obama, and he was elected congressman for the 5th District in Chicago in Nov. 2002.
Emanuel testified he supported the state giving Chicago Academy, a school in his district, a grant to build an athletic field.
He testified no one ever said to him that in order to get the grant, he or his brother would have to hold a fundraiser for Blagojevich.
Emanuel confirmed Valerie Jarrett was a potential appointee to Obama’s vacant senate seat and that he advocated for her for some time.
Emanuel said no one told him Jarrett could be appointed if he set up a 501 (c)(4) for millionaires to donate to at which Blagojevich could work later.
The prosecution had no cross-examination and Emanuel was excused from the witness stand.
UPDATE: 11:22 a.m.
Rahm Emanuel called to testify.
UPDATE: 11:07 a.m.
On re-direct, the defense asked Jackson Jr. about the “Elvis snap.” Jackson Jr. said it was a “thank you very much” snap and Blagojevich mentioned it as he was leaving the room.
Jackson Jr. testified he told others about the conversation after it happened and there were other people in the room.
There were apologies in the Dec. 8, 2008 conversation with Blagojevich, Jackson Jr. confirmed.
Jackson Jr. said he was the only one who apologized in the conversation and the defense cut him off with a nothing further.
There were no more questions and Jackson Jr. was done testifying.
UPDATE: 11:03 a.m.
The prosecution began its cross-examination of Jackson Jr, getting him to confirm he wanted to be a senator at the end of 2008 and Blagojevich had the power to make the appointment. He testified before then, he and Blagojevich didn’t really have a relationship but knew who each other was.
Jackson Jr. testified he did polling and media interviews to get public support for the Senate so Blagojevich would consider appointing him since they didn’t have a relationship.
Jackson Jr. said he met Raghuveer Nayak roughly 12 years ago, and the time of the Dec. 2008 meeting they had a “very close” relationship. He said he was a loveable, likeable guy who traveled with his family -- the kind of guy you would have in your home.
Jackson Jr. said because of his interest in the Senate, he began meeting with Nayak more than usual in Nov. and Dec. 2008 because Nayak was a political supporter of his. He confirmed Nayak had done political fundraising and co-chaired a fundraiser for him.
Jackson Jr. said when Blagojevich was in Congress and running for his first term as governorin 2002, Blagojevich asked him to endorse his campaign. Jackson Jr. testified he said he would, but then did not.
Congressman Bill Lipinski approached him for a $25,000 donation for Blagojevich at that time, but Jackson Jr. said there was “no chance” he’d make the donation.
The prosecution questioned Jackson Jr. about having his wife appointed to Blagojevich’s first administration, and Blagojevich saying to let “bygones be bygones.” Blagojevich said he would get her resume to Tony Rezko, and Jackson Jr. said he hand-delivered his wife’s resume to Rezko.
Jackson Jr. testified Rezko told him they were considering Sandi Jackson for director of the Illinois Lottery, but that she didn’t get the position, which they found out when they saw Blagojevich announce the new director on TV.
Jackson Jr. said he talked to Blagojevich 6 months later in Washington D.C., and testified when he walked into the room, there was a “chill in the air” and he could see there wasn’t much Blagojevich could do for Sandi. Blagojevich apologized it didn’t work out and as Blagojevich left the room, Jackson testified he stopped in classic “Elvis” fashion, snapped his fingers in the air and said “you should have given me that $25,000.”
Jackson Jr. testified he understood Blagojevich to be saying that Sandi didn’t get the Illinois Lottery position because he did not make the $25,000 dollar donation he was asked to.
Jackson Jr. testified prior to his Dec. 8, 2008 meeting with Blagojevich, they hadn't spoken in four years. The prosecution was then done with its cross-examination.
UPDATE: 10:47 a.m.
Jackson Jr. was sworn in and defense attorney Aaron Goldstein began questioning him. Jackson Jr. is an Illinois congressman for the 2nd District.
He testified he knew Blagojevich since both were in Congress. He confirmed on Nov. 4, 2008, Blagojevich had the power to appoint a person to President-Elect Obama’s soon-to-be-vacant senate seat.
Jackson Jr. testified he wanted to be appointed to the Senate, and his plan was to run a public campaign to get the seat. He said he did polling to show the public that he was going to break down “walls,” met with editorial boards to talk about why he should get the seat, launched a write-in campaign and appeared on a number of national television shows.
On Oct. 28, 2008, Jackson Jr. confirmed he met with Raghuveer Nayak and Rajinder Bedi, two Indian businessman who the prosecution allege offered Blagojevich $1.5 million in campaign contributions to appoint Jackson Jr. to the Senate. Goldstein said they wouldn’t go into the content of the meeting, but asked Jackson Jr. if he talked with other people after the meeting about the senate seat. Jackson Jr. testified he talked to “scores” of people.
Jackson Jr. said he didn’t ask for the seat in exchange for fundraising nor did he appoint someone else to do so. Jackson Jr. answered most of the defense’s questions on this point with “no sir” or “absolutely not.”
Jackson Jr. confirmed he met with Blagojevich and John Harris on Dec. 8, 2008 at the Thompson Center for about 90 minutes. He prepared a notebook for the meeting (which the defense entered into evidence) outlining his accomplishments to show why he’d be a good candidate for the Senate. He also pointed out political polls that showed him as the front runner with public support for the appointment.
Jackson Jr. said other people interested in the seat had been able to meet with Blagojevich, but he had not until that point.
Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9, 2008.
Jackson Jr. said fundraising never came up in the meeting and confirmed again he never directed anyone to offer fundraising in exchange for the seat.
The defense was then done with the witness and the prosecution asked for a sidebar with the judge.
Jackson Jr. was questioned for roughly 14 minutes.
UPDATE: 10:29 a.m.
The jury was brought into the courtroom and the defense called its first witness, Jesse Jackson Jr.
UPDATE: 10:18 a.m.
The defense said Emanuel would testify no one told him he could get the school grant money if his brother had a fundraiser for Blagojevich and no one told him Valerie Jarrett would be appointed to the Senate by Blagojevich if Emanuel set up a 501 (c)(4) for Blagojevich to run after he was out of office. Emanuel will also testify he met with Dick Durbin and David Axelrod Dec. 8, 2008 to see if they would broker a “peace treaty” between Blagojevich and Mike Madigan if Lisa Madigan was appointed to the senate seat.
The prosecution said the defense was trying to argue that if the exact message wasn’t stated, the crime didn’t occur. The prosecution said there was no evidence Emanuel didn’t know about Blagojevich’s desire to be the Health and Human Services Secretary either.
The prosecution said there was no evidence that the Dec. 8 meeting wasn’t communicated to Blagojevich, and the defense said there was a Dec. 8 call in which information from the meeting was relayed to him.
Zagel told attorneys it doesn’t do them any good to talk about Emanuel’s testimony in vague generalities and said you have to tell the judge how the information was communicated to the defendant. Without that connection, the judge said the evidence had no connection to the case and suggested the defense may need to put on another witness before Emanuel.
The defense argued they have a right to show Blagojevich “really, really wanted” to the things the prosecution said he wanted to, and said Blagojevich could have called Emanuel himself instead of having an emissary do it. The attorney said it was important for the defense to show that Blagojevich “never, ever said anything of a criminal nature” to Emanuel.
Zagel said that wouldn’t show what Blagojevich was doing or what he knew, and until the defense could “link it up,” the testimony wouldn’t be allowed.
Zagel said if the defense wanted to show Emanuel was not told “these two things,” the defense could have it, but it would be short testimony for the witness.
The judge and attorneys then entered a sidebar conference.
UPDATE: 10:03 a.m.
Court began with the prosecution telling the judge they had serious questions about large portions of what was admissible of testimony from Jackson Jr. and Emanuel and how it was relevant to the trial.
The defense argued the purpose of the witnesses was to show Blagojevich didn’t commit any crimes. The defense said they had basic questions for Jackson Jr. that he will answer by saying he never offered or directed anyone to offer campaign contributions for the senate seat.
Jackon Jr. will also testify about his Dec. 2008 meeting with Blagojevich and how he did not offer anything for the senate seat.
The prosecution argued the defense is presenting an argument that the prosecution didn’t make in its case, in that the prosecution never alleged Jackson Jr. knew about or authorized the deal.
The judge said the argument was allowable and it wouldn’t confuse the jury.
Judge James Zagel warned the defense to make a special effort not to lead the witness, Jackson Jr.
UPDATE: 8:30 a.m.
A motorcade entered the underground garage at the Dirksen Federal Building, which was reportedly Jesse Jackson Jr. entering the building.
Jesse Jackson Jr. Testifies in Blagojevich Trial | Originally reported by: myFOXChicago.com
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