Rod Blagojevich Retrial Moving Quickly - FOX 32 News Chicago

Rod Blagojevich Retrial Moving Quickly

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The retrial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is moving along quickly as the prosecution’s streamlined case turned from the alleged senate seat shakedown to Children’s Memorial Hospital Wednesday.

Complete Rod Blagojevich Trial Coverage >>

Key Points :

  • After Former Deputy Governor Robert Greenlee is cross-examined Thursday, John Wyma was expected to take the stand. He approached the FBI with information that launched the investigation into Blagojevich.
  • The Blagojevich defense filed two motions Thursday morning that asked the judge to change his mind on certain rulings based on how the case has proceeded. The first motion asks the defense be allowed to look at notes on President Obama’s interview with the FBI regarding the senate seat allegations. (Obama has never been charged with wrongdoing). The second motion asks the judge two things . The first, to allow evidence that the pediatricians rate increase (the subject of the alleged hospital shakedown) was passed. The second request is that the defense be allowed to enter evidence after Dec. 5, 2008, when the Tribune article about the “Wyma leak” was published. The motion argues that questions asked by the prosecution in direct examination “opened the door” for the evidence.
  • Wednesday, the jury heard an audio recording in which Blagojevich bitterly complained that Illinois voters didn't appreciate him. "I f***ing busted my ass and pissed people off and gave your grandmother a free f***ing ride on a bus. Okay? I gave your f***ing baby a chance to have health care. …And what do I get for that? Only 13 percent of you all out there think I'm doing a good job. So f*** all of you,” Blagojevich is heard saying on the recording.
  • Greenlee testified Wednesday that Blagojevich delayed increases in spending for child health care because children's Memorial Hospital had not donated to his campaign. After the trial wrapped up for the day, Blagojevich blasted that testimony as a "lie".

 

UPDATE:  4:45  p.m.  
Court finished for the week.

The trial resumes on Monday at 9:30 a.m., when Blagojevich’s defense attorneys will begin their cross examination of John Wyma.
 

UPDATE:  4:28  p.m.  
The prosecution switched topics, asking about a call Wyma received from Emanuel in early November 2008, regarding filling a senate seat. He said Emanuel told him then President-elect Barack Obama would appreciate Valerie Jarret being appointed the senate seat.

Wyma called the campaign office looking for the former governor, left a message, and then called John Harris and relayed Emanuel’s message.

He told Harris if Blagojevich wanted to have a god relationship with the president-elect, it would be a good decision. Wyma said Blagojevich’s decision making process was different than his, and that Harris said he’s relay the message.

Wyma said he told for Emanuel he left the message for Blagojevich, and that he talked to John Harris about it.

The prosecution asked Wyma about a call from Scofield, in which Scofield said he was calling on Blagojevich’s behalf. Wyma thought this was odd because Wyma normally spoke with the former governor directly.

Wyma testified that Scofield wanted Blagojevch to let Emanuel know that he wanted to set up a 501c4 in exchange for the senate seat.

Wyma said he struggled with deciding to make this call, and that Scofield told him the 501c4 would have nothing to do with the senate seat. Wyma said he did not call Emanuel about this.

The prosecution went on to ask the witness about a Dec. 5, 2008 story reporting the Wyma had worn a wire and recorded conversations with Blagojevich. Wyma said the news story had a devastating effect on his business.

The prosecution finished Wyma’s direct examination. Judge Zagel called the attorneys to the bench for a side bar conference.
 

UPDATE:  4:19  p.m.  
Wyma said he told the former governor that he could not ask Magoon for $50,000 because the hospital is a non-profit. It was more than they could donate, and the timing was terrible. Wyma said Blagojevich wanted to know if waiting a couple days would be better timing.

He testified that a few days later Robert Blagojevich called, asking about Children’s Memorial Hospital.

The prosecution played the voice mail Robert Blagojevich left Wyma on Oct. 9, 2008 .

In this call, Robert asked what the next step would be after Wyma reached out to Children’s Memorial. He told Wyma he wanted to document their efforts to fundraise from the hospital.

The prosecution went back to Wyma’s handwritten notes on the Friends of Blagojevich fund tracking sheet. Wyma wrote “Magoon 25K.” He said Blagojevich still wanted to request $25,000 despite the reasons Wyma listed about why the hospital could not make a campaign contribution.

When Robert Blagojevich said they had potential to do well by the campaign, Wyma said Robert was talking about the state approving the pediatric rate increase.

The prosecution then asked whether Wyma was shocked at the voice mail.

Wyma said he reported the information about this voicemail, two other conversations regarding Children’s Memorial, state funding for the school and race to the government.

He also testified that he recently received a subpoena about his healthcare clients, and that he had already decided to meet with the government.

Wyma said this voice mail and two other conversations with Blagojevich accelerated his decision to meet with the government.

He said the government wanted him to wear a wire at an upcoming Blagojevich fundraising meeting. Wyma said he refused because he found it distasteful, and he thought he didn’t do anything wrong, so he didn’t need to wear a wire.

Wyma said he considered Blagojevich, Monk, and Kelly friends at the time. He said it was a terrible decision to make.

But he still attended the Oct. 22, 2008 fundraising meeting because the government said it might impede the investigation if Wyma did not go to this meeting.

At this meeting, Blagojevich said he cannot ask Magoon for money because he had to maintain a line between the government and campaign fundraising. The former governor suggested that either Robert Blagojevich or Wyma ask Magoon for the money.

As Wyma left the Friends of Blagojevich offices after the Oct. 22 meeting, he said there were news media outside and a news story run the next day mentioning him. Wyma said he lost business because of the story, including Children’s Memorial Hospital.
 

UPDATE:  4:01  p.m.  
Wyma said he did not ask Emanuel to have the fundraiser because Tusk felt uncomfortable – he was getting calls for the money to be released from Emanuel and his staff. Wyma said he felt wrong asking for the fundraiser when the money was being “dangled.”

The prosecution went on to ask about Friends of Blagojevich fundraising in the summer of 2008. Wyma said the ethics bill was discussed because it would affect how much money the campaign could raise. He said it created a “heightened urgency,” because the bill would have taken effect on Jan. 1, 2009.

When asked about Oct. 6, 2008, Wyma said he met with a client at the campaign offices and met with Blagojevich after this meeting. They talked about fundraising. He said Blagojevich would announce a $1.8 billion road improvement program and that Monk asked Jerry Krozal for a $500,000 donation.

Blagojevich said, “If they don’t perform, f*** them,” meaning that if they didn’t raise this money for him, Blagojevich would not announce the second phase of this improvement project.

The prosecution went on to ask about an Oct. 8, 2008 meeting, and showed Wyma a spreadsheet they used at that meeting. He said Blagojevich asked Monk if he was still meeting with Kozel that Friday. Monk said yes.

Wyma said the former governor also mentioned Children’s Memorial Hospital at this meeting. Dusty Baker had called Blagojevich about the meeting, and that he wanted Wyma to get Magoon to donate $50,000 to the campaign fund.

Wyma testified that Blagojevich talked to him about this donation because Wyma was Children’s Memorial Hospital’s lobbyist.
 

UPDATE:  3:52  p.m.  
Court resumed, and the jury was not in the room.

The prosecution said they had about 20 minutes left of Wyma’s direct examination, but wanted to get a few issues cleared up before she finished and the cross examination could begin.

Hamilton said it is unclear if Sorosky will abide by Judge Zagel’s previous ruling not to ask improper questions, because it might suggest something improper to the jury. Sorosky said he will abide by that ruling, but it affects whether or not his client is getting a fair trial.

Judge Zagel said the prosecution had a good reason to be wary of questions the defense may raise on Wyma’s cross examination, based on what happened in the first trial and in this current trial.

The prosecution raised similar concerns about when Pat Magoon will be on the stand. Judge Zagel cautioned the defense not to ask improper questions.

The jury was brought back into the courtroom.
 

UPDATE:  3:25  p.m.  
Wyma said the sheet names who hosted a fundraising event for Blagojevich, the goal amount to raise at that event, and how much was actually raised.

The prosecution then switched topics, asking about Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel. Wyma said Emanuel was a congressman during that time, and that Emanuel contacted him about a problem he was having getting state funding for a school in his district.

Wyma testified Emanuel asked him to find out why funds were not released, when Blagojevich told Emanuel that they were.

Wyma then called Bradley Tusk, who told him that Blagojevich might have been holding up funds until someone held a fundraiser for him. Tusk asked him to call Blagojevich and get him to release the money. Wyma said he declined, explaining that he didn’t think that call would be successful.

Wyma said either Monk or Blagojevich asked him to ask Emanuel to have a fundraiser for Blagojevich. He said he did not make this request at that point in time, but he did at a later date. He asked months later, when the grant issue had been resolved, and the money had been released to the school.

Court then took a 15 minute break.

 

UPDATE:  3:17  p.m.  
Prosecutor Carrie Hamilton carried out the direct examination of Wyma.

Wyma testified under a government grant of immunity. He said he knows Blagojevich because he was the former governor’s Chief of Staff in Washington, D.C. from 1996-1999.

Wyma worked and socialized with Blagojevich outside the office and got to know his family. The two became friends. Wyma left on good terms with the former governor even when he was no longer his Chief of Staff. They stayed in touch.

He was Blagojevich’s campaign director from January-November of 2002.

Wyma testified that Lon Monk and Chris Kelly had direct access to Blagojevich, and that Monk was primarily running the 2002 Blagojevich campaign in Chicago. Bill Knapp and Fred Yang ran it in Washington, D.C.

He also said Monk and Kelly primarily oversaw campaign fundraising.

Wyma said he still had personal and professional contact with Blagojevich after he was sworn in as governor in 2003. He opened his own consulting firm, and still worked with the former governor on campaign fundraising.

Wyma said he was part of a select group that met every few months to work on campaign fundraising for Blagojevich.

He testified that the more campaign funds a candidate has, the more political power the candidate has. Wyma said it was important to lagojevich to has a strong campaign fund.

The prosecution showed Wyma on a tracking sheet Friends of Blagojevich used to track fundraising. Wyma confirmed that his has written notes are on this sheet. The prosecution went on to have him explain how the sheet was laid out.

 

UPDATE:  3:07  p.m.  
Answering Elliot’s question, Cain said Blagojevich clearly raised more money than his political opponents. But Cain did not review individual supporters’ contributions, just total amounts.

Cain said he did not research any fundraising periods other than 2002 or 2006.

Elliot asked Cain about the Oct. 28 call that played in court. Cain explained that just one side of the phone call was overheard in that recording, and confirmed that FBI agents cannot confirm who Blagojevich was talking to when he made this phone call from the Friends of Blagojevich office.

The defense then finished their cross examination. The prosecution began their re-direct of Cain.

Can said the Friends of Blagojevich money was spent on campaign expenditures.

He also said Blagojevich owed Winston and Strawn $1.3 million in March 2002. Approx $750,000 in campaign money was used to pay part of this bill in July 2008.

The defense began their re-cross examination of Cain. The prosecution called their next witness: John Wyma.

 

UPDATE:  2:54 p.m.  
Cain said Blagojevich reported approximately $23 million in campaign funds in 2002. Jim Ryan had approximately $14 million.

In 2006, Cain said Blagojevich reported approximately $23 million in campaign funds, while Judy Baar Topinka had approximately $5 million.

Cain went on to report these figures:

  • July 2004, there was approximately $10.3 million in campaign fund
  • July 2006, there was just over $3 million in campaign fund
  • January 2005, there was approximately $10.3 million in campaign fund
  • Dec. 9, 2008, there was $3.2 million in campaign fund

The prosecution finished the direct examination of Cain. Defense Attorney Elliot Riebman began the cross examination.
 

UPDATE:  2:45 p.m.  
The prosecution called FBI agent Dan Cain back to the stand. They asked Cain about phone lines in the Blagojevich campaign office the FBI tapped, specifically a call from Oct. 28, 2008, at 4:01 p.m.

Cain said Chris Kelly was with Friends of Blogojevich, former governor’s campaign fund, from August 2004-August 2005. Alonzo Monk was with the fund from December 2006-December 2007, and Robert Blagojevich was there from August 2008-Dec. 9, 2008.

All three of these men were chairmen of Friends of Blagojevich.

Cain said the FBI reviewed Blagojevich campaign funds on the State Board of Elections website. Looking at his D-2 reports, Cain said the FBI also reviewed funds for several other gubernatorial candidates, and put together charts.

Cain said fundraising Chat 1 shows cumulative receipts for fundraising in the 2002 election for all candidates. Chart 2 shows the same information for the 2006 election. Chart 3 is the balance of funds in Friends of Blagojevich after the 2006 election.

 

UPDATE:  2:35 p.m.  
The defense began its re-cross of Greenlee. Greenlee testified that in the Lisa Madigan deal discussed Nov. 6, Blagojevich wanted some “sort of legislative accomplishments” in exchange for the seat. Greenlee testified he was not working on moving that plan forward.

The defense questioned Greenlee about the call the prosecution played during its re-direct, asking him to clarify that Blagojevich said Mike Madigan wouldn’t be influenced by Obama and Blagojevich would want all the legislation Madigan was obstructing passed before appointing Lisa Madigan to the Senate.

Greenlee testified in his Dec. 6, 2008 call with Bradley Tusk, in addition to discussing Greenlee’s concerns over Blagojevich’s consideration of appointing Jesse Jackson Jr., they also discussed the Tribune story that John Wyma was cooperating with federal investigators.

Greenlee testified he believed he and Tusk talked about Blagojevich and Jackson Jr. on Dec. 6, 2008 after the defense asked if he was “sure” he had the discussion.

Greenlee testified he resigned the day after Blagojevich was arrested, which was Dec. 9, 2008.

There were no more questions and the Greenlee was excused.

 

UPDATE:  2:19 p.m.  
Court was called back into session after lunch and during its redirect of Greenlee, the prosecution played a portion of a recorded phone call from 9:05 p.m. on Nov. 6, 2008 . In the call, Blagojevich, his wife, Patti and Greenlee discuss Valerie Jarrett and the senate seat, the HHS position and how much Obama actually wants Jarrett in the seat.

In the recording, Greenlee tells Blagojevich he thinks the administration will not offer him the HHS position and will instead offer to help Illinois with federal funds and to try to negotiate with House Speaker Mike Madigan on Blagojevich’s agenda. Blagojevich tells Greenlee he’s “naïve” to think the president would have any influence on Madigan.

Greenlee testified the call is from the same day Blagojevich told him he asked Balanoff for the HHS position and they were discussing counter proposals if Blagojevich didn’t get it.

Greenlee testified he spoke with Bradley Tusk the weekend of Dec. 6 and 7, 2008 while Tusk was in New York. Greenlee said he told Tusk on Dec. 6 he was concerned about his job at the governor’s office after the phone call in which Blagojevich indicated he would be interested in giving the senate seat to Jesse Jackson Jr. for campaign contributions.

Greenlee testified he was only planning on staying with the office for about six months, and his six months were up.

The prosecution was then finished with its re-direct.

 

UPDATE:  12:05 p.m.  
The prosecution conducted a re-direct of Greenlee. The prosecutor asked Greenlee about a meeting in Philadelphia with Blagojevich, Fred Yang and Bill Knapp. Greenlee testified Lisa Madigan was discussed as an option for the senate seat at the meeting, and said John Harris did not attend the meeting.

Greenlee testified he was aware of no efforts made to move the Madigan deal forward.

The prosecution asked about conversations Greenlee had with Blagojevich on Dec. 4, 2008 about Jesse Jackson Jr. Greenlee testified that the main advantage to appointing Jackson Jr. Blagojevich listed was that he could get campaign contributions for the appointment.

Greenlee testified Blagojevich tried to convince him he wasn’t serious about getting money from Jackson Jr., but when he mentioned the “Jackson network,” he was talking about Jackson Jr. supporters who would raise money for Blagojevich in exchange for Jackson Jr. getting the seat.

Court then broke for lunch.

 

UPDATE:  12:05 p.m.  
Court resumed after a short break. The defense began asking Greenlee about his testimony regarding Children’s Memorial Hospital. Greenlee testified he met with Wyma, Barry Maram and Children’s Memorial Hospital President Patrick Magoon at the Thompson Center in Aug. or Sept. 2008 and Magoon wanted the pediatric rate increase to fund a hospital project.

Greenlee testified he met with Maram about a week later to discuss the rate increase.

Upon questioning, Greenlee testified there were not any significant budget concerns regarding the state’s healthcare budget to be able to fund the increase. Greenlee said Blagojevich told him to look into the rate increase and said it should be ready to go if and when Blagojevich made a final decision on whether to go through with it.

Greenlee said the last time he spoke with Blagojevich about the rate increase was toward the end of Nov., sometime after Thanksgiving. He said in a phone call during office hours, Blagojevich told Greenlee Wyma had been fired by Children’s Memorial Hospital and to hold up the rate increase.

The defense showed Greenlee a report from an FBI interview in Feb. 23, 2009. Greenlee said he didn’t recall the interview but didn’t dispute the document. In the report, Greenlee said Blagojevich told Wyma was possibly fired and to not move forward. Greenlee confirmed he told Maram to hold back on the increase because if he was wrong, Greenlee could lose his job.

The defense questioned Greenlee about the racetrack bill and a call from 2:18 p.m. on Dec. 3, 2008 . In the call, Blagojevich asks how many bills he has that he has to act on right then, and Greenlee tells him he was 30 bills with all roughly the same timing. Blagojevich tells Greenlee he wants to do them all together, although not yet.

Greenlee testified the governor had 60 days to sign or take action on a bill once it was approved by the legislature. Defense attorney Aaron Goldstein clarified there was nothing mandating Blagojevich sign the bill once it passed both houses.

The defense turned to the Illinois Tollway bill. Greenlee testified only large bills needed legislative approval, and he received this information on or about June 2008. Greenlee said bills regarding lesser dollar amounts can be signed by the governor without legislative approval.

The defense was then done with their cross-examination of Greenlee.
 

 

UPDATE:  11:11 a.m.  
The defense asked Greenlee about a call between him and Blagojevich from Nov. 5, 2008 in which Blagojevich mentions parachuting himself into the senate seat.

Greenlee testified in the call, Blagojevich was rehearsing answers to the media about the senate seat, being vague about whether he would appoint himself and talking about what he did to bring access to health care to children in Illinois.

Greenlee testified after Nov. 3, 2008, Blagojevich’s first choice for the Senate was Valerie Jarrett. After a sustained objection to a question about whether Greenlee talked to Blagojevich on Nov. 3 about appointing himself, Greenlee confirmed from Oct. 26 to Dec. 9, there were discussions about appointing Lisa Madigan to the Senate.

Greenlee testified no steps were taken to move the Madigan option forward.

The defense returned their attention to a phone call from Dec. 4, 2008 . Based on the call, Greenlee testified Lisa Madigan was the top choice for the Senate following their meeting in Philadelphia, and appointing Jesse Jackson Jr. or Blagojevich himself was the second choice.

After the Philadelphia meeting, Greenlee testified, the second choice changed as Blagojevich said Jackson Jr. was an option. Greenlee said he understood Yang was confirming in the call that Madigan was the first choice, Jackson Jr. was the second, and Blagojevich agreed.

 

UPDATE:  10:47 a.m.  
With the jury back in the courtroom, the defense resumed questioning Greenlee about being approached by the FBI the morning of Dec. 9, 2008, the day Blagojevich was arrested.

Greenlee testified the FBI talked to him for less than 10 minutes and played audio recordings of his conversations. He said he was scared, hired a lawyer and began cooperating with the government.

Greenlee testified in a call with Blagojevich on Oct. 26, 2008, Blagojevich told him Lisa Madigan and Blagojevich himself were both potential appointees to the Senate, and Blagojevich mentioned the Health and Human Services Secretary position.

On Feb. 9, 2009, Greenlee testified he met with the FBI with his attorneys and U.S. attorneys. He said it was possible they talked about that phone call.

After an objection from the prosecution, the defense attorney showed Greenlee an FBI report of the meeting.

Greenlee said he still didn’t recall the meeting, but said it was possible it occurred even if he doesn’t remember what was specifically discussed.

The defense asked Greenlee if Blagojevich used the word “exchange” when Blagojevich told Greenlee he told Balanoff he wanted the HHS Secretary position for the senate seat. Greenlee said he wasn’t sure if that exact word was used even though he said it in his testimony Wednesday.

The defense showed Greenlee a copy of his sworn statement to the grand jury despite an overruled objection by the prosecution. In it, Greenlee said that Blagojevich had asked for the HHS position and felt he was unlikely to get it. The word “exchange” was not used in the sworn statement.

Greenlee testified in a Nov. 4, 2008 call , Blagojevich told him to research possible ambassadorships for him, which Greenlee did on Wikipedia. In another call later that day, Greenlee testified he understood Blagojevich to be talking about possibly appointing himself to the Senate.

Greenlee said Blagojevich mentioned again possibly appointing himself to the Senate and he seemed upset in the call.

 

UPDATE:  10:31 a.m.  
The judge sent the jury out of the room to discuss cross-examination questions regarding the FBI. Defense attorney Aaron Goldstein asked Greenlee about talking to the FBI.

Greenlee said he had his first conversation with the FBI the morning of Dec. 9, 2008, and he began cooperating with them. The FBI came to his home the next day and played him snippets of some audio recordings. Greenlee testified he then hired an attorney.

Greenlee said at first he was worried about being prosecuted and sent to jail, but after talking to his attorneys, he decided to cooperate. He testified he spoke with the FBI about 10 times in 2010 and a few times before his testimony.

The defense wanted to pursue this line of questioning in front of the jury, but the prosecution argued it was not relevant. The defense kept asking Greenlee if he was afraid of being prosecuted.

Judge James Zagel said he was concerned the questions were too broad, inviting information that had no relevance to the case, and said Goldstein’s questions should be more precise. Zagel said he didn’t blame Goldstein for fishing, but the questions need to be specific.

The jury was allowed back into the court room.

 

UPDATE:  10:09 a.m.  
Court was called into session for the day. The prosecution finished questioning Greenlee on the alleged Tollway shakedown, and defense attorney Aaron Goldstein began cross-examining the witness.

Goldstein asked Greenlee about a conversation between him and Blagojevich in which Blagojevich was upset with Greenlee for disagreeing with him about what he could get for the senate seat while on the phone with Fred Yang.

Greenlee testified when he said to Blagojevich in the call “I understand your play,” he was telling Blagojevich why he wanted to make the Madigan play for the senate seat, but he testified he was lying to Blagojevich when he said he believed it and when he said he liked the plan.

Greenlee testified he believed Blagojevich when he said supporters of Jesse Jackson Jr. would come through with money for the senate seat appointment.

At the time, Greenlee testified, he had been working for Blagojevich about six months, and he didn’t understand how Yang was connected to “Washington people.”

Greenlee testified he did not believe Blagojevich in a call from 2:09 p.m. on Dec. 4, 2008 because he had a prior conversation with him in which Blagojevich told Greenlee he was naïve to think people in Washington would want to help with state issues in Illinois.

Greenlee testified he did not know Blagojevich was in contact with Harry Reid about a Madigan deal or with N.J. Senator Robert Menendez, and that he knew John Harris was in contact with Rahm Emanuel but not necessarily about the Madigan deal.

Greenlee testified that a previous call with Blagojevich “rattled” him and that influenced him to lie to Blagojevich in the Dec. 4 call. Greenlee testified he did not quit working for Blagojevich before the governor was arrested but did have conversations with the FBI.

 

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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