Chicago - Federal prosecutors were up in arms in court Monday over what they called "clear fabrications" Rod Blagojevich has made to the public in recent appearances on TV and in print interviews, including one on FOX Chicago News on Sunday when he reiterated his rants against prosecutors saying "the accusers are the ones who are limiting the evidence, keeping it from the people."
In court, top prosecutor Reid Schar grew as emphatic as he has since the case went to trial: "If he wants to continue to lie, he ought to be called on it," Schar told U.S. District Judge James Zagel.
Schar asked Zagel to offer "some remedy to address what are clear fabrications he's not being called on." Schar called the statements a direct attempt to poison the jury pool as jury selection is set to begin Wednesday for the retrial.
Zagel launched a warning to Blagojevich to tone down his on-air rhetoric and said lawyers should consider the judge's words in court a "red flag."
"He's playing with fire, and I think that's what the judge effectively said today, be careful because you are very close to crossing the line," said former federal prosecutor Patrick Collins.
Schar said prosecutors did not complain about Blagojevich's frequent on-air appearances the last trial because they believed Blagojevich would take the witness stand and they would have a chance to show "that it's absurd and he's a liar."
But Schar said he increasingly doubts Blagojevich will take the stand. Blagojevich hasn't promised this time and his lawyers won't say either.
Schar said he was most angered by Blagojevich's recent TV appearances in which he said prosecutors were not allowing him to play recordings he wanted at trial. Zagel has admonished Blagojevich before about such statements, since decisions over evidence fall squarely on the judge.
Schar called a recent TV interview where Blagojevich again brought up the recording issue "phenomenal in terms of fabrication."
Blagojevich's lawyer, Shelly Sorosky, tried interjecting by saying perhaps Blagojevich grew confused. Bristling, Schar cut him off.
"These are his talking points. This is not a mistake," Schar said.
Judge Zagel did not go so far to to issue a gag order in this case, but did tell prosecutors they could possibly use in court Blagojevich's many public statements to make their ase. Zagel said some of those statements could "arguably" derail or at least contradict Blagojevich's defense.
When Fox Chicago knocked on Blagojevich's door to see if he might clarify his position on the tapes, his wife Patty told us to call her husband's publicist, Glenn Selig. Selig said the former governor would not be making any statements, but would continue to be "truthful, honest and responsible" as he prepares for trial which begins Wednesday.
Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.