Former Illinois First Lady Patti Blagojevich came out swinging on Monday after yet another prosecution witness claimed her husband, Rod Blagojevich, was trying to trade President Obama's old Senate seat.
Meanwhile, defense attorney Aaron Goldstein wasted little time in going after former Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris.
As the first major witness of the retrial, Harris focused almost wholly on allegations that the former governor sought to exchange an appointment to President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat for campaign cash or a top job.
Key Points :
UPDATE: 5:03 p .m.
The judge adjourned court and sent the jury out of the room, then he had a serious talk with Goldstein. He told Goldstein he was going way beyond the scope of a proper cross-examination, and that if Goldstein wanted to present a defense, he should come out and do it, not just "nibble around the edges" asking questions that are inadmissable.
The judge warned Goldstein that if he continues with this type of questioning, the judge will "sit him down." The judge said he gave the same advice to Sam Adam Jr. The judge told Goldstein that he didn't want him to respond, he just wanted him to comply.
Court will start up again at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
UPDATE: 4:41 p .m.
Goldstein asks Balanoff more about the Jarrett-Obama-Blagojevich negotiations. Balanoff said he told Blagojevich he wouldn't hear from Obama directly.
Balanoff testified that he met with Gianoulias and Jarrett at the Aon Center on Nov. 7, and let Jarrett know what he had discussed with Blagojevich.
When Goldstein asked Balanoff if he told Jarrett Blagojevich was asking "one for the other," the prosecution objected and the judge sustained. Then, the judge told Goldstein he was very close to sitting him down, given his improper line of questioning today.
Balanoff said he called Blagojevich after meeting with Jarrett and Giannoulias to confirm they would meet for coffee, but Blagojevich said he was going out of town.
UPDATE: 4:22 p .m.
In the call between Rod and Patti Blagojevich, Rod said that no one wants to be governor these days, but that this is opening up new opportunities for her. He said he wants what's best for them on the legal front, political front and personal front.
Goldstein is now cross-examining Balanoff, who confirms his earlier testimony about his Nov. 3 meeting.
UPDATE: 4:10 p .m.
The prosecution played a call from Nov. 12, 2008 at 10:47 a.m. Balanoff said that Blagojevich didn't want it to get out that Rahm Emanuel reached out to him about the Senate seat.
Balanoff called Alexi Giannoulias an hour after this call, and said that Giannoulias confirmed Jarrett was taking a White House position instead of the Senate seat. That ended his communications with Blagojevich about Jarrett.
The next call played was recorded on Nov. 12, 2008, at 10:50 a.m. and is between Rod and Patti Blagojevich.
UPDATE: 4:00 p .m.
The prosecution played a phone call between Blagojevich and Balanoff that occurred on Nov. 12, 2008 at 10:34 a.m. In it, Blagojevich said he just heard from Rahm Emanuel that Obama would be "grateful" if Jarrett was appointed. Balanoff said that he later concluded that Blagojevich was not and never had been in discussions with the Madigans.
Balanoff said that Blagojevich indicated he would appoint Jarrett if Obama's friends would set up and fund a 501c4 foundation for him to run once he was out of office.
Balanoff said he tried to call Jarrett after finishing this phone call.
UPDATE: 3:41 p .m.
Balanoff testified that at the Nov. 6 meeting, he told Blagojevich that he was there to advocate for Jarrett.
Blagojevich threw out the idea that he might appoint Lisa Madigan, but Balanoff couldn't tell whether he was in active discussions with the Madigans about it.
As Balanoff continued to advocate for Jarrett, Blagojevich started waxing about how his real passion was healthcare and if he got the Health and Human Services cabinet appointment, he could live out his passion. Balanoff understood this to mean that Blagojevich would trade the appointment of Jarrett for the HHS appointment. Balanoff told Blagojevich "that's not going to happen" because of the federal investigation.
Blagojevich went on to talk about working for a labor union after leaving office. Balanoff tried to bring the conversation around to Jarrett again. They agreed to meet for coffee on the following Saturday.
UPDATE: 3:07 p .m.
Balanoff said he talked with Jarrett on Election Day 2008, and told her he understood she was interested in the Senate seat. She asked if he had talked with Obama the day before, and he told her yes.
Balanoff went to Grant Park on Election Night to see the rally. There, he saw Blagojevich with Emil Jones, and he told Blagojevich that he wanted to talk more about the Senate seat.
Balanoff called Wyma the next day to set up another meeting.
Court is now on a break.
UPDATE: 3:03 p .m.
Balanoff said that Valerie Jarrett's name came up in conversation with Stern. Stern wanted to talk with Blagojevich about the appointment, so Balanoff set up a meeting for Nov. 3 at the Thompson Center in Blagojevich's office. John Harris was there. They talked about the Senate seat, starting with Schakowsky, then talked about Jarrett. Blagojevich said he assumed he'd hear about Jarrett from President Obama.
Balanoff said that Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s named also came up, but Balanoff and Blagojevich agreed he would not be a good choice. Blagojevich mentioned Lisa Madigan as a "smart political choice."
Balanoff said that on Nov. 3, while he was at a gas station at Congress and Dearborn, Obama called him and said he had two criteria for the Senate appointee: they be good for the people of Illinois, and be re-electable. Obama did mention Jarrett -- he said he'd like her to work at the White House, but he'd like to see her named Senator too.
UPDATE: 2:56 p .m.
The prosecution called SEIU chief Tom Balanoff, who testified that he met Blagojevich about six months before his first run for office, and that while in office, they talked about policy and legislation.
Balanoff then testified about how he helped President Obama's 2008 election effort in northern Indiana.
Balanoff said the SEIU had an interest in who got the Senate seat because they wanted to see someone who supported their issues. In a phone call, Balanoff said he told Andy Stern he liked Jan Schakowsky as a Senate appointee, but he didn't think she'd get it.
UPDATE: 2:49 p .m.
Goldstein asked Harris if he prepared several lists regarding the Lisa Madigan deal; the prosecution objected, and the judge sustained the objection.
Goldstein then proceeded to ask even more questions to which the prosecution objected: Whether it was Harris' understanding on Dec. 8 that Blagojevich wanted to appoint himself to the Senate seat; whether Harris had a conversation with Blagojevich about appointing Oprah Winfrey to the Senate seat; whether Harris rehearsed his answers for the FBI; whether Harris felt that he committed any crimes.
That was the end of Goldstein's cross-examination of John Harris. The prosecution declined to re-direct.
UPDATE: 2:34 p .m.
Goldstein began asking Harris about another call. In this call, Harris is heard relaying a call he had with Emil Jones. Harris says what he told Blagojevich over the phone was not entirely accurate.
Harris testified that in the call, that he also talked about how Blagojevich had been hurt by the passage of the ethics bill because it limits how much the governor can campaign and fundraise.
Harris testified that he told Emil Jones that Blagojevich was considering appointing himself to the Senate seat because he was upset with Jones for letting the ethics bill go through.
UPDATE: 2:15 p .m.
Goldstein then asked Harris about a call that took place on Nov. 11, 2008 .
In the call, Harris is relaying what Blagojevich aide John Wyma told him about the Senate seat appointment, that the Obama administration wanted Valerie Jarrett in the seat and would be appreciative/thankful for it. Harris testified that he understood that the Obama administration would be just that, and would not deal with Blagojevich or anything else.
Goldstein then asked Harris about a call that took place on Nov. 12, 2008 .
In this call, Blagojevich is concerned about setting up a 501(c4) charity to head up as a way to serve his future interests in exchange for the Senate seat appointment.
Goldstein asked where the $10-15 million Blagojevich wanted to set up foundation would go. Harris testified they’d be used to set up advocacy.
Goldstein asked Harris if he raised any concerns with Blagojevich at the time. Harris said, “No.”
Harris testified Blagojevich seemed to be talking about campaign fundraising in another context he was not aware of.
In the call, Harris says he agreed with Blagojevich with the idea of setting up the 501(c4) foundation.
Goldstein tried to ask Harris about what he meant in call when he said, “If they can’t even do that then we are not having good faith negotiations.” The prosecution objects; the judge sustains it.
Goldstein asked Harris about a part of the call in which Harris suggested looking for an "African American Tammy Duckworth" as a possible Senate seat appointee. The prosecution objects; the judge sustains it.
Harris testified he told Blagojevich that the “change to win” option was likely for him to have a job when he leaves office, but the 501(c4) plan was similar.
UPDATE: 2:06 p .m.
Goldstein asked if the “change to win” position was ever announced. Harris said, “No.”
Then Goldstein asked Harris about Blagojevich and the Health and Human Services (HHS) post. Goldstein tried to ask Harris about a group meeting on Nov. 6, where Blagojevich and the HHS position were discussed… The prosecution objects; the judge sustains it.
Judge Zagel told the defense to confine his questions as to what Harris was asked on direct examination.
Goldstein tries to ask a few more questions, but all are objected to.
Goldstein then asked Harris about another phone call
Goldstein asked Harris who (Obama staffer) Jim Messina is.... The prosecution objects; the judge sustains it. (In the call Harris mentions getting a message through to Jarrett without going through her people by going through Messina.)
Goldstein then began asking Harris about another call. This one is between Harris, Blagojevich and political adviser Fred Yang.
Goldstein asked if several Senate candidates were discussed in this call. Harris said, “Yes.”
In the call, Yang told Blagojevich that the Obama administration will deny his request for HHS and Blagojevich says "no question." Harris testified that he understood Blagojevich to agree with Yang.
Goldstein then asked about the portion of the call when Blagojevich talks about Emil Jones betraying Blagojevich regarding the ethics bill.
In the call, Yang said he can’t think of a lot of picks that directly or indirectly help him.
Goldstein then asked Harris about a portion of the call where Blagojevich refers to the "Prince of Darkness"... The prosecution objects; the judge sustains it.
UPDATE: 1:51 p.m.
Court is back in session after a lunch break.
The defense resumed its cross examination of Harris. Goldstein asked him about a press conference Blagojevich had on Nov. 5, 2008, regarding an appointment to Obama’s Senate seat.
Harris testified that he drafted talking points for Blagojevich about forming a search committee and candidate criteria.
Then Goldstein asked Harris about a call from Nov. 6, 2008 at 9:15 a.m., in which Harris and Blagojevich discussed Blagojevich taking a position with a “change to win” campaign in exchange for the Senate seat.
Harris testified that this idea was his.
In the call, when Blagojevich talks about publically announcing the “change to win” campaign plan, Harris said he cautioned Blagojevich that he may not get the position because things may change. And Blagojevich said he'll have SEIU’s Tom Balanoff and Andy Stern announce the appointment publically so the deal wouldn’t fall through.
Harris testified that he spoke to David Scofield about this idea to learn more about the campaign, and to see if idea would be viable.
UPDATE: 12:31 p.m.
Goldstein began asking Harris about another phone conversation; this time on Nov. 5, 2008 .
In this call, Harris says Blagojevich mentions a conversation he had with union leader Tom Balanoff about the Senate seat while backstage at a Grant Park rally on election night, Nov. 4, 2008.
Harris says he believes Balanoff and Obama were fairly close politically and that they supported various issues for each other.
In the call, Harris referrers to an "albatross". He testified that he was talking about the federal investigation into Blagojevich and William Cellini.
Goldstein asked Harris about the part of the call when Blagojevich mentions being appointed to an ambassador post in exchange for the Senate seat appointment. Harris testified that he told Blagojevich he thought it was extremely unlikely because he wanted to be polite to Blagojevich.
Goldstein asked if most of the call was about Blagojevich’s efforts to just appoint himself to the Senate seat. The prosecution objected.
Goldstein asked where these deceptions going... The prosecution objected, and the judge sustained it.
In the call, Blagojevich says "if they are f-- me and not entertaining a reasonable request". Goldstein said he wanted to ask Harris about this line… The prosecution objected; the judge sustained.
On the same call, Goldstein asked about the part where Harris says he wouldn’t make his "political pick' to fill the Senate seat himself (meaning Blagojevich). The prosecution objected; the judge sustained.
Goldstein asked about a part of the call in which Harris mentions a "reasonable ask" for something in return for the Senate seat appointment. The prosecution objected.
When Goldstein asked if it was Harris’ understanding that Blagojevich wanted to appoint himself to the Senate seat, the prosecution objected; the judge sustained it.
Court went on lunch break until 1:30 p.m.
UPDATE: 12:08 p.m.
Goldstein began asking Harris about another recorded phone conversation.
In this call, Harris says they have to find out from Andy Stern, head of the National SEIU labor union, how long ago they tried to set up a meeting. Harris testified Stern was a supporter of Obama.
Goldstein recapped that Marilyn Katz was the first person to tell Harris about Jarrett being interested in the Senate seat. The prosecution objected.
Goldstein ask about a Nov. 2 phone call with Rahm Emanuel in which Emanuel indicated Obama wanted Jarrett appointed to the Senate seat.
Goldstein tried again to ask if Katz was the first person to approach him about Jarrett being interested in the Senate seat. The prosecution objected again.
Goldstein then began asking about Emil Jones being mentioned in this call. He also inquired about how talking to Jones needed to be an "off campus meeting”, and that it would make Jones feel better about Jones’ chances of being selected for the Senate seat.
Goldstein asked why it was important to make Jones feel better about his chances, and Harris testified it was because he understood Jones had the power to move legislation that would strip Blagojevich of his power to make the Senate seat appointment.
When Goldstein asked if any such legislation was pending at the time, the prosecution objected and the judge sustained it.
When relaying Marilyn Katz’ phone call to Blagojevich, Harris testified he attempted to let Blagojevich know Obama supporters "would be appreciative" if Jarrett were appointed and could help with fundraising.
UPDATE: Noon , by Larry Yellen
John Harris may be in the hands of the defense today, but the prosecution is doing everything they can to limit the questioning of their star witness.
There have been, in the two hours that he’s been on the stand this morning, more than 70 objections – almost every question that the defense asked, the prosecution Carrie Hamilton stands up and objects to it.
The main reason being that the defense is trying to get in front of the jury the information that Blagojevich consulted with numerous people – lawyers and friends and consultants – about that Senate seat that he allegedly tried to sell.
The prosecution and the judge have both decided that evidence is not admissible in this case. That unless Blagojevich decided to put on a specific “advice of counsel” defense, which has some very specific requirements, that he can’t introduce in any fashion the fact that he talked to numerous people about that Senate seat and that nobody told him it was wrong.
He’s trying to prove he had no intent, but the government says that’s not admissible in this case unless he uses that “advice of counsel” defense.
So almost every question that Goldstein poses -- regarding, “Who did you talk to about the Senate seat? What type of advice did you seek on that Senate seat?” – the prosecution objects, and the defense has not been able to get an answer to those questions.
Harris has been questioned for three days now, and it’s expected he’ll remain on the stand for the rest of the day.
We’re not sure just who the next witness will be for the government, but it is expected they will remain on the issue of the Senate seat, because that’s the way they opened this trial. And they want to get this very strong evidence, in their opinion, in front of the jury right off the top of the trial.
UPDATE: 11:48 a.m.
Goldstein began asking Harris about the Senate seat.
He tried to ask if Harris was a prosecutor in the military... The prosecution objected; the judge sustained it.
Goldstein then started walking through Harris’ resume up to when he became Blagojevich’s chief of staff, about which Goldstein says one of his duties was to advise Blagojevich. The prosecution objected; the judge sustained it.
Goldstein then asked Harris how many times a day he spoke to Blagojevich, asking if it was some times eight times a day, and approximately 35 times a week. Harris said, “Yes.”
Goldstein asked if Blagojevich spoke to Harris a lot about Senate seat appointment and if several other people spoke to Blagojevich about the seat. Harris said, “Yes” to both.
Goldstein asked if Harris kept binders on candidates who spoke to Blagojevich about the Senate seat. The prosecution objected; the judge sustained it.
Goldstein asked if Harris talked about Jesse Jackson Jr., and Valerie Jarrett? Harris said yes, adding “and about Lisa Madigan.”
Goldstein asked Harris if he himself asked for the Senate seat. Harris said, “No.”
Goldstein asked if all signs pointed to Emil Jones getting the Senate seat. Harris said that wasn’t correct.
Goldstein took a moment to confer with the defense team before asking to approach the witness again.
Goldstein asked Harris about an interview with the FBI on Jan. 27, 2008. Harris said he doesn’t recall much. Goldstein showed him a copy of the report from that interview, and asked him about talking on a call from Oct. 31, 2008 with the FBI. Harris then read the document.
Harris’ testimony confirms this call was about Blagojevich developing criteria for selecting a new Senator.
Goldstein asked Harris to read another paragraph from the FBI report about the call – and he read it to himself.
Goldstein asked again if all arrows were pointing to Emil Jones for the Senate seat. Harris said he doesn’t recall any other candidates being talked about up until then -- just Blagojevich and Jones. He also testified that Blagojevich was upset with Jones because he betrayed him regarding the ethics bill.
In the call when Harris says he wants Jarrett, Harris says “he” is Rahm Emanuel -- Emanuel wanted Jarrett appointed to the Senate seat.
Goldstein asked who Marilyn Katz is, and if she approached him about Senate seat. Harris says she’s a publicist who told him Jarrett would be a good choice for the Senate seat and that the Obama administration would appreciate it.
Until then, Harris said Jarrett was not being considered. He told Blagojevich about Jarrett’s interest in the seat after receiving the call from Marilyn Katz. Harris added that Katz indicated Blagojevich could receive financial support from Obama’s friends if Jarrett were appointed.
When Goldstein asked if this call is mostly "shooting the breeze" about politics, the prosecution objects and the judge sustains it.
Goldstein asked Harris about the talking points he drafted for Blagojevich regarding the Senate seat appointment process to use at a press conference, and if the draft included Blagojevich appointing himself. Harris testified that no, that was not included in the draft.
UPDATE: 11:34 a.m.
Court returned to session after a break.
Goldstein asked Harris about the tollway plan, and green lanes (similar to car pool lanes) that were part of it. Goldstein tried to ask if these lanes were going to have higher fees. The prosecution objected to this line of questioning.
Goldstein then began asking Harris about the race track bill that passed the general assembly on Nov. 20, 2008, and arrived in Blagojevich’s office on or about Nov. 22.
Goldstein asked Harris about calls he received from former Blagojevich chief of staff Lon Monk, former adviser and fundraiser Chris Kelly and one other person about the bill.
In his testimony, Harris agreed that Blagojevich signed the bill with some urging from him based on a call Harris received from Kelly.
Harris testified that he was surprised to hear from Kelly, because he hadn’t heard from him for several months.
Goldstein tried to ask when was the last time Harris had contact with Kelly when Kelly was pushing for Blagojevich to sign a bill. The prosecution objected to this line of questioning.
Goldstein tried to ask Harris about Kelly’s relationship with Blagojevich at that time and any interest Kelly had in the bill that that time. The prosecution objected and Judge Zagel sustained.
Harris testified that Blagojevich didn’t express a desire to veto the race track bill.
Goldstein asked if Harris knew of any bills signed by Blagojevich from Nov. 24 – Dec. 9, 2008. The prosecution objected and the judge sustained the objection..
The defense asked about a phone call from Dec. 2, 2008 , between Harris and Bill Quinlan, Blagojevich's general counsel.
In the call transcript, Quinlan says with our "mutual boss", Blagojevich, “I pushed that other thing.”
When Quinlan says "a two-second thing", Harris says he understood Quinlan to have had a short conversation with Blagojevich, dealing with Harris’ concern about the race track bill being held up.
UPDATE: 10:58 a.m.
Goldstein began asking Harris about the capitol bill. Harris testified that it was a large infrastructure bill.
Harris testified that the bill was not voted on in the house. Goldstein tried to ask if it was difficult for Blagojevich to take action on this bill because of Mike Madigan.
The prosecution objected. Judge Zagel sustained.
Goldstein then began asking about the tollway grants not being passed. He tried to ask again if Madigan was a problem.
The prosecution objected. Judge Zagel sustained.
Harris testified that there were three plans, one of which totaled $1.8 billion.
Goldstein asked if there was an issue to get the capitol bill passed. Harris said, yes, and that it was something Blagojevich wanted passed.
Goldstein asked Harris if he knows who Gerald Krozel is. Harris says yes. Krozel is a former road-building executive.
Goldstein is about to change subjects, and Zagel tells everyone to take a break.
UPDATE: 10:50 a.m.
Goldstein began now asking Harris about campaign fundraising. Harris testified that it became an urgent issue when Harris was at a meeting where Blagojevich about to receive an invoice from Winston and Strawn for their services regarding a federal investigation.
Goldstein asked if politicians with small war chests have little power. Harris confirmed that was correct.
Goldstein the asked about ethics legislation. He also entered the governors ethics bill into evidence. The bill was passed in late September 2008, and limits the governor's ability to fundraise. Goldstein asked Harris if Blagojevich worked with Emil Jones to keep it from being passed…
The prosecution objected and Judge Zagel judge approved it.
Goldstein ask if Jones betrayed Blagojevich by calling this bill for a veto override, which he did, and it passed. Harris said, “Yes.”
Goldstein tried to ask Harris about an amendatory veto by Blagojevich on this bill.
The prosecution objected, and the judge sustained it.
UPDATE: 10:41 a.m.
Goldstein began asking Harris about Patti Blagojevich and her work.
Harris says he had several talks with Blagojevich about finding work for Patti, because the Blagojeviches were having financial troubles since her real estate business was suffering.
Goldstein asked Harris about the Illinois Pollution Control Board, specifically if Blagojevich directed Harris to put Patti on the board. Harris testified that he didn’t, but that Blagojevich told him to be prepared to do so.
When Goldstein asked if Patti had any other jobs in the state, other than First Lady, Harris said, “No.”
Goldstein asked Harris if he told Blagojevich that it would look bad if Patti got a job with the state. Harris said that yes, it would be a problem, especially since she couldn’t make early morning or late afternoon meetings. Harris testified that Blagojevich said Patti could work from home.
Goldstein then began asking Harris about the financial institutions he contacted on Patti's behalf about a possible job.
Goldstein asked Harris about when Patti met with Rade "Ray" Kljajic with Citibank. Harris testified that he arranged the meeting, but was not there when it happened. Harris says he asked Ray to just talk to Patti about the industry and the nature of the work. Patti did not get a job with Citibank, he said.
Goldstein asked Harris about a conversation he had with Blagojevich about Citibank after Patti met with Kljajic. Harris said Blagojevich was frustrated because Citibank wasn’t helping Patti.. He testified that this conversation took place in the spring of 2008.
When Blagojevich said Citibank shouldn’t get any more state money, Harris testified that he took that as a direct order.
Goldstein said Citibank still received some state bond money that summer; Harris says confirmed that fact.
UPDATE: 10:29 a.m.
Harris testified Blagojevich told him not to release the grant money for Academy for Urban School Leadership.
Harris testified that former Deputy Gov. Tusk also told him that Blagojevich had put a hold on the grant, adding that there is no paper work to back it up. Harris testified it could only be released by Harris or Tusk -- and Tusk asked Harris to intervene since Blagojevich had also told him not to release the grant money.
In his testimony, Harris said Blagojevich said he didn’t want to release this grant because Tusk may have approved a grant that Blagojevich "wasn’t entirely aware of."
Tusk left the Blagojevich office in 2007.
Goldstein tried to ask if Tusk left on bad terms, but the prosecution objected and Judge Zagel sustain the objections.
After talking with Blagojevich twice, Goldstien asked if grant money was eventually released to the school. Harris testified that it was, and that the money was released gradually.
Goldstein asked Harris if he told the FBI about this grant issue, saying that the issue may have first come to his attention in "late 2006 or early 2007" -- different than what Harris just said about the issue first coming to his attention in late summer/early fall of 2006.
Goldstein asked Harris to read a report of an interview he gave to the FBI on Feb 20, 2009.
Harris now says the grant issue first came up in "late 2006."
UPDATE: 10:21 a.m.
Goldstein showed Harris a copy of his plea agreement with the government , signed in May of 2010.
The sentencing guidelines say Harris could be sentenced to 70 to 87 months in jail, which would lowered to up to 35 months if he cooperates w/ the government.
Goldstien asked Harris about paragraph 11 in the plea deal. Goldstein said sentencing in the plea deal will happen when Harris’ cooperation has concluded, when the Blagojevich case is over.
Harris testified that he is now working as an apprentice electrician working for an electrical contracting company, doing installation work at schools and offices. He said he goes to electrician school one night a week.
Goldstein asked Harris if Harris’ attorney can ask for probation in a plea deal. Harris said, “Yes.”
Goldstein is trying to discredit Harris with his plea deal with the feds, saying that Harris will say what the feds want him to say.
Goldstein then began asking Harris about the funding problem for the Academy for Urban School Leadership -- the school in then-U.S. Rahm Emanuel’s district that Blagojevich allegedly held back funding for unless or until Emanuel's brother, Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, held a fundraiser for Blagojevich.
Harris testified that he learned of a problem regarding a grant for this school in late summer/early fall of 2006. Harris says he spoke to Blagojevich about it. Harris says Blagojevich told him Bradley Tusk, deputy governor during Blagojevich’s first term, may have committed funds to the school without approval.
UPDATE: 10:06 a.m.
After a brief side bar, Goldstein asked Harris if he claimed something wasn’t true when questioned by the FBI.
Harris admitted that 30 minutes into the FBI interview he did lie to FBI, and that he hasn’t been charged with anything. He also testified that he's spoken to the government or the FBI about 31 times since his arrest -- including U.S. Attorneys office.
Since April 2010, Harris testified he's talked to the the U.S. Attorneys office at least 12 times, but not over this past weekend.
Goldstein asked if Harris spoke with the government while he was testifying last week on breaks. Harris testified that he had.
Goldstein asks Harris if he's been cooperating with the government for more than two years, and Harris confirmed that he has. Goldstein says that Harris’ relationship with government is as long as Harris’ relationship with Blagojevich was.
Harris testified that the two relationships are different – that he worked for Blagojevich and is cooperating with the government.
Goldstein then said, “let’s talk about your plea agreement.”
UPDATE: 10:03 a.m.
Court is back in session. Goldsteain began questioning Harris about when he was arrested by the FBI on Dec. 9, 2008.
He asked if Harris lied to the FBI when they first arrested him. Harris responded by saying, “I’m not sure what you mean.”
At that point Goldstein walked Harris though his arrest, about being put in handcuffs at 6 a.m. at home and taken to the FBI building for questioning. Once there, the agents began questioning Harris, Goldstein said, adding that Harris lied to them.
Again Harris said, “I’m not sure what you mean.”
Goldstein asked Judge James Zagel for a sidebar.
UPDATE: 9:10 a.m.
Blagojevich left his house around 9 this morning to head to court.
UPDATE: 7:09 a.m. -- What to expect Monday
Blagojevich, 54, faces 20 charges at the retrial, all of them underpinned by FBI wiretap evidence. With Harris on the stand, prosecutors played dozens of secret recordings of him and his boss allegedly plotting to sell or trade of the Senate seat.
Lead defense lawyer Aaron Goldstein is set to begin the cross-examination of Harris on Monday. Goldstein will likely try to reinforce a central theme from his opening statement: That Blagojevich was merely talking.
"`You and your boss were just running your mouths, right? You spent a lot of time with him, and you know he has a tendency to do that, right?" said Julian Solotorovsky, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago. "If I were them, that'd be what I'd ask Harris."
The defense will also have compared Harris' testimony last week to his testimony at the first trial and will likely try to highlight any inconsistencies in an effort to impeach his credibility.
"That's a pitfall of having the same witness on twice," said Solotorovsky. "They might not tell the same story twice."
Blagojevich's initial trial ended last year with jurors deadlocked on all but one charge. They convicted him of lying to the FBI. Blagojevich denies all wrongdoing.
Harris, 49, was arrested on the same day as Blagojevich on Dec. 9, 2008. He opted for a plea deal that gives him a chance of a reduced sentence for his testimony.
Goldstein, known for grilling opposing witnesses, is almost certain to suggest Harris has a vested interest in embellishing his testimony or even outright lying to please prosecutors.
Harris, though, is a more formidable witness than others expected to take the stand. During his three days of testimony last week, Harris spoke calmly and matter-of-factly.
Prosecutors likely concluded Harris is one of their best witnesses -- based on the fact that they put him on the stand right away. At the first trial, they called him to testify only after two weeks. His testimony also puts the spotlight immediately on the high-profile Senate seat allegation.
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