Yesterday, Joe Cari testified about a conversation he had with then-Gov. Blagojevich on a plane trip tied to Blagojevich's New York fund-raiser in 2003. During that conversation, Blagojevich allegedly told Cari that he wanted to follow former President Clinton's political fund-raising model back when Clinton was Arkansas governor.
Blagojevich wanted Cari -- a national Democratic fund-raiser for Al Gore and others -- to help him do the same thing, according to Cari. A key to that would be to solicit campaign contributions from contractors who get state business.
The prosecution's line of questioning appeared designed to show that Blagojevich was obsessed with political fund-raising and once lied to FBI agents about that.
Some background: Blagojevich had maintained in a March 2005 interview with the FBI that there was a "firewall" between political fund-raising efforts and government decisions. One of the 24 criminal counts Blagojevich is facing is lying to FBI agents about the role Blagojevich himself played in soliciting campaign contributions.
Clearly understanding the potential importance of the Blagojevich-Cari conversation on the plane, Blagojevich attorney Michael Gillespie tried to cast it in a way that attempts to show Blagojevich did nothing illegal by talking to Cari about fund-raising.
He pointed out to Cari that Blagojevich was discussing fund-raising in the context of President Clinton, and that Blagojevich never explicitly stated during the conversation with Cari that state actions would be traded for political cash.
Eventually, Cari agreed with Gillespie that Blagojevich never directly tied the two together.
However, when prosecutors did their re-examination of Cari later on, Cari testfieid that he understood Blagojevich to mean that there would be a "quid pro quo" between state contracts and contributions.