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Inside the Rod Blagojevich investigation and related cases

July 2010 Archives

Blagojevich jurors gone for the day

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Jurors in Rod Blagojevich's trial have left for the day. They will return Monday for their fourth day of deliberation.


On their third day of deliberations, jurors in Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial gave a sign that they're in this for the long-haul.

Their request this morning: a transcript of all testimony for the seven weeks of trial.

"Is it permissible to obtain a transcript of the testimony. It would be helpful," the note read.

And the answer to that question is no.
However, U.S. District Judge James Zagel said, with agreement by the lawyers, he will respond by telling the jurors that the testimony of certain witnesses would be considered.

Zagel noted that if (and when) that requests comes, it will take time to prepare the transcripts.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

At the end of a second day of deliberations, the Blagojevich jury has called it a day.

They'll be back tomorrow at 9 a.m. Normally the trial hasn't been held on Fridays, but the jurors decided to deliberate five days a week.

Reporting with Sarah Ostman

After deliberating for just a few hours, jurors in Rod Blagojevich's trial have made their first request: they want a transcript of the prosecution's closing argument.

After reading the note, the three prosecutors on the case looked at each other and laughed.

The request will be denied, said Judge James Zagel, since closing arguments are not evidence.

The 12-member jury's request was sent to the judge in a note, which was referred to in open court this morning. The note asked for the government's closing argument.

In closing arguments, Prosecutor Chris Niewoehner extensively laid out the charges in the case with an explanation of each count and what evidence the prosecution believed proved their case.

Zagel noted that the indictment in the case, which does go back with the jury, was complicated and repetitive.

"If they are unable to work their way through this without the statements, I expect this issue to rise again," Zagel said. "And I will deal with it."

We've gotten word that the jury has sent a note out from the jury room. It will be read aloud in court shortly, at 11 a.m.

There's no indication that there's a verdict. That would be unlikely after less than seven hours of deliberating -- but anything's possible.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

The jury has quietly left the Dirksen Federal Building after their first partial day of deliberating.

Word is the jurors have decided to deliberate Monday through Friday, 9 - 5. They're free to come up with their own schedule.

adam2

Sam Adam Jr., standing with his father and fellow attorney Shelly Sorosky, was next to address the media after Rod left the building.

"We believe in those 12 jurors that are in there right now," he told reporters. "We believe that they listened to the evidence, they've seen that the government has not proved their case, they've seen what I said in closing statements ... that the governor, whatever you want to say about him, he's not corrupt."

Adam Jr. thanked his team and talked about the challenges they've overcome in the past year -- the volume of papers they've had to go over, their requests for more time getting shot down, his own inexperience in federal courts.

He closed by saying his client -- and his All Kids program, presumably, which the ex-governor himself mentioned just minutes earlier -- was responsible for the health of his 1-year-old daughter, who was born weighing 1-1/2 pounds.

"I love that man," Adam Jr. said. "My wife, who is here, and I now have a beautiful 35-pound child because of him, and whatever you say, I will go to my grave being grateful to him."

Sam Adam Sr. then took the mic. He, too, praised their legal team and then turned to his son's birthday.

"Thirty-eight years ago this morning, my son's mother delivered my son and I was standing right there with her," Adam Sr. said. "Thirty-eight years later I couldn't be more proud of this boy. Here he is, taking the pressure of the world -- this case was published in Paris yesterday, I'm told -- taking the pressure of the world and defying a federal judge and saying, 'I will go to jail if necessary to protect my client.'"

"I couldn't possibly be more proud of this boy than I am. I love him and I love Rod, too."

Sam Adam Jr. stood behind his father as he spoke, wiping away tears.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Holding his wife's hand, Rod Blagojevich addressed the media for about two minutes in the lobby of the Dirksen Federal Building a few minutes ago. Here's what he said:

"Both Patti and I want to express our deep appreciation and gratitude to the many people, the men and women and young people, who've come up to us during this time of trial and have expressed to us their good wishes and have told us how they've kept us in our prayers. I can't begin to tell you what how much means to both Patti and me ...

"Let me also say from a personal point of view, having been the governor, how deeply gratifying it's been to hear the different people who've come up to me during this trial to thank me.

"A young mother came up to me just yesterday, thanking me for the All Kids program and health care for her child.

"The number of senior citizens who've come to court and flashed their free senior bus ride cards -- that's very meaningful, and gives me perspective as we deal with this very difficult situation. To know that while I was governor, real good things happened to a lot of people and that helps sustain me during this difficult period...

"Both Patti and are grateful to our legal team and all their hard work.

"Now is the period where we have to wait, and express our appreciation to the men and women who are sitting on the jury who've taken time out of their busy schedules, out of their lives, to do their duty.

"They're now the ones who will decide, make the decision. Patti and I have great confidence and faith in their judgment, their common sense and their decency.

"And ultimately, in the final analysis, Patti and I always have a deep and abiding faith in God. And ultimately the decision will be with the jury, the men and women of the jury, and in God's hands."

He and Patti then left the courthouse, taking no questions.

Rod Blagojevich: I don't need any aphrodisiacs

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki

After court let out, an older Serbian woman handed Rod Blagojevich a candy. Sam Adam Sr. asked if it was an aphrodisiac.

"I don't need any," Rod said, laughing.

He then claimed to have run a marathon in 1984 in 2 hours and 55 minutes. He said he ran six miles last night.

He's expected to talk to the media shortly.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

It's official. The case of former governor Rod Blagojevich is now in the hands of jurors.

They must weigh 24 counts against the former governor and four counts against his brother.

Before Zagel allowed them to go to the jury room, Judge James Zagel explained to jurors what to expect.

They must pick a foreman to lead the discussions. They may only communicate with the judge, if need be, by sending a note signed by the foreman. That note can never say how, numerically, the jury is divided.

Zagel then said he had one final instruction.

"The verdict must represent a considered judgment of each juror. Your verdict, whether it be guilty or not guilty, must be unanimous. You should make every reasonable effort to reach a verdict," Zagel said.

"In doing so, you should consult with one another ... discuss your differences, if you have them, with an open mind. Do not hesitate to re-examine your own views and change your opinions if you come to believe it is wrong," but do not go along with a verdict that you do not believe with, the judge says.

"Each of you should give fair and equal consideration to the evidence and deliberate with the goal of reaching an agreement," Zagel says. "Your sole interest is to determine whether the government has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt."

"With that," he says, and the jury files out. Court is adjourned.

Here are the jury instructions

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Here's the law that jurors must follow:

Jury instructions

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Judge James Zagel is reading the jurors their instructions. There are 120 of them.

Zagel reminds them that a number of witnesses -- including Joe Cari, John Harris, Lon Monk and Ali Ata -- have pleaded guilty to related or unrelated offenses.

"Their guilty pleas are not to be considered as evidence against the defendants," the judge says.

Recordings are to be used as evidence, Zagel tells them -- not transcripts, which were put together by the government to help the jury follow along. Jurors will be given a computer with all the recordings to use in deliberations, he says.

Zagel turns to specific instructions for each of the 24 counts against Rod Blagojevich. For each count, the judge reads a list of specific things the government must prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" to warrant a guilty verdict. Much is fairly technical.

He goes through a long list for count 2 -- conspiracy to commit racketeering.

"A conspiracy may be committed even if its purpose is not accomplished," the judge reads steadily, and later, "A group may continue to be an enterprise even if it changes membership by gaining or losing members over time."

Now and then, Zagel lists off a long string of count numbers to which a specific instruction applies.

"From what you've just heard, you understand why we give you written copies of the jury instructions to take with you," he says, acknowledging that there's no way the jurors can be absorbing all this information.

On one bribery count, Zagel defines the term "anything of value." The term can mean "money, property or prospective employment," he says.

The jurors are getting restless. One has her eyes closed; another just yawned.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

As the jury is brought in for instructions, Patti Blagojevich is sitting in the front row, knitting.

Over a break, Sam Adam Jr., who turns 38 today, said he's lost 32 pounds since May 1. He got on the scale yesterday, he said.

"My dad and I don't eat lunch," he said.

Someone suggested he celebrate his birthday with a cheeseburger.

"I want to keep it off," he said, running a hand over his suit.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Five jury alternates -- one man and four women -- will be sent home today. That leaves a jury of six women and six men; three are African-American and one is Asian-American.

These jurors, the last five picked during jury selection, are alternates and will not deliberate the case. It's what we thought to be the case all along, but the judge has just confirmed it in court.

"The alternates are the last five selected," Zagel said, adding that in the future he may consider "a more random selection procedure."

That means the following people will be sent home: a white, male mechanical engineer; a white, female legal secretary; a white, female hospital secretary; a young white woman who works in direct mail marketing; and a female, African-American nursing home social worker.

They will sit through jury instructions and then will be dismissed. They will still be instructed not to discuss or read news about the trial, in case they are called in to replace another juror, Zagel said.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

After all the commotion of the past few days, the Dirksen federal courthouse seems like an absolute ghost town today.

On the 25th floor, Rod and Patti Blagojevich emerged from the elevator holding hands. One supporter clapped weakly in the hallway.

"Where did everybody go?" the ex-governor asked, scanning the thin crowd. "Jury instructions," he said, smiling.

Jury instructions -- where jurors are given a list of legal definitions and rules to help them with their deliberations -- are expected to start a little later. It certainly doesn't have the pizazz of a Sam Jr. closing argument, but this set of decisions can have a big impact on the outcome of a case.

First, before the jury is seated, attorneys will hash out which exhibits -- transcripts, documents and other evidence from the trial -- the jurors will be allowed to bring into deliberations. They may quibble over some items.

We're expecting defense attorneys to give a statement later. It's Sam Adam Jr.'s birthday.

For nearly eight weeks, Rod and Robert Blagojevich were on trial together, but they sat at different tables in the courtroom. They didn't lunch together and rarely even spoke.

But after their long trial concluded on Tuesday, with the jury and nearly all the spectators out of the courtroom, Rod Blagojevich walked over to his older brother.

The two exchanged words and gave each other a long embrace that ended with the two gently patting each other on the back.

"It had been a long time," Robert Blagojevich later said of the hug.

To read the whole story, click here.

He yelled. He whispered. He argued. He paced. He apologized. He made jurors double over in laughter one minute -- and attempted to draw outrage the next.

Defense lawyer Sam Adam Jr.'s closing remarks in one of the highest-profile trials in Chicago history didn't land him in jail Tuesday as he feared. But Adam used every weapon in his rhetorical arsenal to end Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial with enough drama to try to cancel out dozens of damning secret FBI tapes that jurors heard in the last eight weeks.

To read the whole story, click here.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

The prosecution finishes its rebuttal and Judge Zagel adjourns court for the day.

'Members of the jury, you've heard all the evidence and the arguments," he tells them.

He tells the jury it is especially important now that they avoid news reports and not talk about the case, and asks them to return in the morning for jury instructions.

That will be followed by day one of deliberations. Court is scheduled to reconvene at 9 a.m.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

For the first time since Michael Ettinger delivered his closing argument yesterday, Robert Blagojevich's name is brought up in the courtroom.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar recalls Robert's testimony that he kept fund-raising and politics separate, keeping out of his brother's government affairs. But then, Schar said, Robert testified about a long list of occasions when he did mix the two.

"He's got an excuse for every one," Schar said. "It's OK because my brother asked me to ... It's OK because it's Mary Stewart's relative ... It's OK because I was trying to be courteous to a guy who was very likeable."

"There is no doubt defendant Blagojevich dragged his brother into this bribery scheme," he says, referring to Robert's charges surrounding the U.S. Senate seat.

Schar also tackles Adam's earlier remark that Blagojevich paid $500,000 in federal taxes while he was governor.

"This concept that he paid a bunch of money to taxes," the prosecutor says. "There's no special tax rate for defendant Blagojevich. He paid his fair share."

And he recalls the last tape Adam played in his closing argument, which suggested that Blagojevich's inner circle was trying to "take him down."

"There's a conspiracy of liars," Schar says. "Everyone's lying to frame defendant Blagojevich .... It's one of the great frame-ups of all time."

"What's amazing about this massive conspiracy, not only are these people lying, they somehow managed to get defendant Blagojevich on the tapes you've heard to frame himself!" he says. "Somehow they've managed to do that."

"And worse, he has a motive to commit these crimes!" he says, recalling testimony that Blagojevich was deep in debt and worried about his future career.

"The evidence in this case has proven both these defendants guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," Schar concluded. "We ask that you provide a guilty verdict on all counts. The time for accountability for these crimes is now."

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Rod Blagojevich has "more training in criminal background than the average lawyer," and yet the defense portrays him as a victim of circumstance who was unaware he was doing anything wrong, prosecutor Reid Schar argues.

"Somehow he is the accidentally corrupt governor? I mean, come on. Come on," Schar says, his voice rising a little.

"He is the decision maker. He is the governor," the prosecutor said. "He is the one who makes the ultimate decision."

Blagojevich is staring at Schar, resting on his elbows with his hands clasped.

Earlier, Schar hit back at Sam Adam Jr.'s argument that Blagojevich's alleged crimes are "all talk."

"The crimes the defendants are charged with are crimes that involve a lot of talking," Schar said. "When you go to rob a bank, you talk about it for a while."

Schar called Blagojevich a "master communicator" who knew exactly how to give one message to people he was extorting -- including the CEO of Children's Memorial Hospital, whose funds he was threatening to cut -- but communicated another message to the public about the cuts being budget savings.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Prosecutor Reid Schar argues that Rod Blagojevich knew exactly what he was doing when he tried to shake down a road-building executive, a hospital CEO, racetrack owner and countless others for campaign cash.

"He is not stupid. He is very smart," Schar said. "He didn't get elected twice ... by accident."

The ex-governor knows how to communicate in 30-second sound-bites, Schar says. "That's what he does for a living," he says.

So in conversation after conversation, Rod knew exactly how to extort and ask for a bribe without being direct.

Schar talks of Rod's power as governor, saying people under him feared retribution from a man "with complete control of millions, if not billions, of dollars."

"There's victims well beyond the evidence you heard," Schar says, referencing the people of Illinois.

Schar references a Sept. 12, 2008, conversation between Rod and Children's Memorial Hospital CEO Patrick Magoon, in which the governor said he planned to raise pediatric rates but tells Magoon to keep it quiet.

"He decides to sit on one of his number one initiatives? It makes no sense," Schar said.

That's because Rod intended on getting something in return, later sending his brother to call Magoon and ask for money, Schar says.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald arrived in the overflow courtroom a few minutes ago. He's sitting with his staff, listening intently to Schar's rebuttal.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar's parents are sitting in the front row, waiting to hear from his son.

Schar, who has been on the case since the beginning, is sitting quietly at the prosecution table.

He's likely to unleash his own fury in his rebuttal after hearing Adam accuse prosecutors of hiding facts from jurors.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Winding down, Sam Adam Jr. tells the jury he may have forgotten to tell them a few things, but if they are are stuck in jury room, they should ask themselves one question. "Now, what would Sam say about this?"

The all-about-business juror hears this and lurches forward in his chair in seeming amazement. But Adam keeps a straight face, despite groan-like laughter from the gallery.

Finally, after an 80-minute roller coaster of screaming and pacing, Sam Adam Jr.'s much-anticipated closing ends on a hushed tone.

"Find this man not guilty," Adam tells the jury in a whisper. "This is serious stuff ... He never intended on extorting anybody."

"I can't tell you what this case is about any better than this," he says, and one last time dramatically gestures to his co-counsel.

"Elliott," he says, cuing the tape.

It's Bob Greenlee talking to Rod.

"I'm very concerned," Greenlee is heard saying. "I think it is very real ... People want to take you down for political reasons."

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

A rare silence falls on the courtroom as Sam Adam Jr. hangs his head dramatically. He's just notched his eighth objection in 20 minutes.

The judge tells him not to refer to prosecutors directly.

"OK. Forget who wrote the indictment," Adam says, then starts onto his next question.

Prosecutors Reid Schar and Chris Niewoehner, not looking at each other, shake their heads in unison.

Adam turns to prosecutors' claims that Patti Blagojevich accepted kickbacks from Tony Rezko without doing any work. But she did do work, he argues.

"Kickbacks for work is a job, man!" he shouts, getting chuckles across the courtroom.

He stretches, pointing across the room at Patti Blagojevich, who's wearing a white blouse and is sitting in the front bench.

He seems to be toeing the line, hinting at the missing witness issue. He mentions testimony from Sean Conlon, a witness who sold property to Brian Hynes. According to testimony, Hynes asked Conlon to tack on an extra commission for Patti Blagojevich, although Conlon said Patti did no work for it.

Why was Conlon called to testify and not Hynes, Adam asked the jury -- but he worded it carefully, and Zagel never sat him down.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Sam Adam Jr. leaps back into his closing argument. The topic? The ex-governor's $400,000 wardrobe.

Jurors learned a few weeks ago that Rod Blagojevich spent $400,000 on clothes during his six years in the governor's seat -- largely on custom suits and pricey ties.

"You know why he spent $400,000 on suits in six years?" Adam says. "Because he's a politician. A CEO for the state of Illinois. He's on the front page of the paper every day. They have media every day. You gotta look the part."

"Why did Sarah Palin spend $150,000 on her wardrobe?" he says. "Now she's getting $150,000 for a speech."

"He's broke, man, BROKE! When I say broke, I mean BROKE!"

Adam brings up that Blagojevich paid $500,000 in federal taxes while he was governor. That was really his No. 1 expenditure during those years -- a fact the government failed to tell the jury, Adam says.

"He's paying for his own prosecution!" Adam screams, pointing to the prosecution table. "This is crazy!"

Prosecutor Carrie Hamilton looks up and stares into the distance.

Blago's finances have been a hot topic during the trial. The government has portrayed him as money-hungry and drowning in debt, as reasons for his alleged swindling. The defense has portrayed him as a flat-out family man -- proof that he didn't take any bribes.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

After a shorter-than-usual lunch break, we're waiting for the judge to take his seat.

Just outside the courtroom, Rod Blagojevich autographs a sketch of himself and a supporter, thanking her for her "good wishes."

He tells her she's much more beautiful in real life.

"That's in case I run for office again," he says, smiling up at the media.

Blagojevich held court during lunch at the fruit cart in the courthouse cafeteria, discussing the case with well-wishers and telling one young fan, "Good luck in school."

Attorney Sam Adam Jr. is picking up where he left off with his closing argument, urging jurors to "follow the money" in a state pension deal that prosecutors say the ex-governor rigged to benefit donors at Bear Stearn.

Earlier, Adam echoed a theme from his opening statement -- that Rod Blagojevich is an "insecure" man who was wronged by his more capable underlings.

"He's got absolutely horrible judgment on people. That's this case. And they want you to find him guilty of these horrible things because of that," Adam told the jury.

"That man wasn't trying to sell a Senate seat," he said at another point. "He was trying to get 300,000 people health care. He was trying to make sure a capital bill would result. He was trying to make sure disabled veterans didn't have to pay property taxes."


Reid Schar objected to Sam Adam's attempts to make reference to state of Illinois lawyer Bill Quinlan as the head ethics officer. Adam is trying to cite advice from Quinlan to Rod Blagojevich while characterizing Quinlan as an ethics officer.

The two sides bitterly hash this out over break, as defense lawyer Aaron Goldstein uncharacteristically grows loud, saying that two deputy governors "their witnesses" testified that Quinlan was also head of ethics in the state.

"Why are we discussing this if you just refuse to accept my ruling?" Judge James Zagel tells Goldstein.

"At the momentum of this kind of closing argument, people make misstatements...
You are giving them an opportunity to stop the freight train. You don't want them to stop the freight train. One way to make sure this doesn't happen is to make sure he speaks with precision about the testimony and about the dates," Zagel tells Goldstein, urging him to give transcripts to Adam and sort out the specifics.

Zagel has sustained at least a dozen objections from the prosecution and Adam has visibly protested -- and even mocked the prosecution for interrupting him.
Zagel suggested Adam can stave off the interruptions if he's sure to accurately go through details in the case. Fudging will not help him with the jury, Zagel said.

"Go to the testimony and make sure you're right on all of these little details. Then instead of 'objection sustained,' you're going to get "objection overruled," if you get any objections at all."

Unlikely.

"This is all I have to say at this point, and because it's all I have to say, it's all you have to say," Zagel said, bidding adieu for a short break.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Sam Adam Jr. tried to dismiss the charge that Rod Blagojevich told underlings to lean on then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel to have his brother, big-time Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, hold a fund-raiser for his campaign.

That could not be true, Adam argued, because then-Deputy Gov. Bradley Tusk testified that he continued to report to Blagojevich every day for two months after he supposedly defied Blagojevich's alleged command to try to shake down Emanuel.

"What governor gets caught in a shakedown by Bradley Tusk, who works for him, and continues to work for him for two months?" Adam shouted. "And he didn't fire Bradley Tusk? Give me a break!"

The government says Blagojevich held up a $2 million grant to build a football field at Chicago Academy, a school In Emanuel's congressional district, and told Tusk to tell Emanuel to get his brother to hold a fund-raiser.

Emanuel apparently never got the message and Blagojevich gradually and belatedly let go of the grant after contractors threatened to walk off the project, prosecutors said.

"Chicago Academy is an example of what they did RIGHT!" Adam said. "Rahm Emanuel says they should get a grant -- which they GOT! They wanted a football field. It got made."

"The darn football field -- that got made! What fund-raiser did he get? None!!!" he screamed.

Adam also mocked testimony that Rod Blagojevich hid in the bathroom from budget director John Filan.

"In the bathroom?!" Adam yells. He says Rod was the governor, he could just tell his secretary not to let people into his office.

Again, Adam questions the entirety of the case -- including the alleged shakedown of Rahm Emanuel that Bradley Tusk testified about.

"C'mon. These are the feds!" Adam says, pointing to the prosecution table. "And this is what they bring you? Come on."

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Sam Adam Jr. has just accused President Barack Obama and his transition team of negotiating with Blagojevich.

The offer came from Rod to Tom Balanoff, Adam says. Balanoff brought it to Valerie Jarrett and word came back from Rahm Emanuel through John Wyma. It's a negotiation they were in, he said of Obama and Blagojevich.

"You start high and they come low," Adam said.

In another comical moment, Adam mocks the prosecution and judge for keeping him quiet. Adam is trying to explain extortion to the jury when prosecutor Reid Schar shoots up.

Adam is silent and puts his arm out pointing to Schar.

"Objection," Schar said.

Adam then leans over and looks right at Schar, who won't look up at him. Adam starts to speak again, saying each word slowly, waiting for an objection.

"I..."
"Can..."

Zagel stops things to neutralize Adam. Adam, sweating pretty heavily, pauses to wipe his forehead with a tissue.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Sam Adam Jr.'s voice crescendos out of control at one point; no one in the overflow room can make out what he's saying as his voice clips through the speakers.

Turns out he's telling a story about a mule.

It's a long joke about an Italian woman who shot a mule that kept stumbling after giving it three chances. ("Thattsa one! thattsa two! thattsa three!" Adam yells.)

When the woman's husband tells her it was stupid to shoot the mule, she looks at him and warns him, "Thattsa one!"

Adam said that sums up the government.

There's laughter in the courtroom. One juror physically bends over laughing, holding her stomach, but quickly composes herself.

At the defense table, Rod appears amused looking on.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar isn't amused.
He finally shoots out of his seat to object. "This is inappropriate," he says.

"I think they're objecting because it's beginning to look more like a show," Judge Zagel responds, adding that that's "advice" and not a ruling.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Sam Adam Jr. continues to make jurors and onlookers chuckle as he echoes another common defense argument -- that Rod Blagojevich's only crime was talking too much.

"If you had Joan and Melissa Rivers in a room you wouldn't hear that much talk," Adam yells, drawing laughter in the courtroom. "That's just the way he is."

"They arrested Rod Blagojevich," Adam continues. "You know who didn't get arrested? Jesse Jackson Jr."

Neither side called Rep. Jackson to the stand to explain whether he authorized his supporter, Raghu Nayak, to offer to raise money -- $1.5 million or $6 million, depending whose testimony you believe - in exchange for appointing Jackson to Barack Obama's Senate seat. Nor did either side call Nayak.

Instead, Rajinder Bedi testified that Nayak offered to raise money if Jackson was appointed. Bedi said Jackson was present for that conversation but Bedi did not say whether Jackson chimed in.

Adam shouted that prosecutors ought to explain to jurors why Jackson was not arrested when they get up to do their rebuttal.

"Objection as to who was arrested, who was not arrested," a prosecutor said.

"Sustained," Judge Zagel said. "The remark is stricken. Jurors are instructed to disregard."

Prosecutors are rising to object every few minutes and Zagel is sustaining all their objections. Usually, it takes a few sentences from Adam - being delivered loud and rapid-fire - before their objection penetrates.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Sam Adam Jr. briefly focuses on testimony of Bob Greenlee, Blago's former deputy governor.

"He looked like Tom Arnold and Buddy Holly had a baby ... remember those glasses?" Adam says, recalling Greenlee's thick plastic frames. A female juror in front row crosses her arms and can't suppress a smile.

"He took more than $100,000 a year to advise this man ... and what does he come in here and tell you? Ridiculousness," Adam says. "The most ridiculous statement I've ever heard before: 'Yes, I said those things, yes, I gave you encouragement... you know why? Because I was trying to disagree by agreeing.' Who are you kidding?"

Adam is referring to Greenlee's testimony that he told the ex-governor what he wanted to hear - that placating his boss was often easier than arguing with him.

Prosecutor Chris Niewoehner has a finger on his face and stares right up at Adam as Adam repeatedly accuses him of "hiding the facts" from the jury.

At one point, Adam says, "We're at the grown folks table," to jurors. Several smile. It made the studious-looking male juror hunch his shoulders and smile.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Sam Adam Jr. cranks up the volume right from the start, telling jurors in his closing argument that he decided not to put Rod Blagojevich on the stand -- despite his promise that he would -- because the government didn't prove its case against him.

It's what he refers to as the "big pink elephant in the room."

"I promised each and every single one of you that Rod was going to get up there and take the stand," Adam says. And at opening statement I gave you my word and I meant every word of it," he says. "I had no idea no idea that in two months of trial (the government) would prove nothing."

He argues that the government proved the defense's case -- that Patti got paid for legitimate work she did for Tony Rezko, that "Rod didn't take a dime," that government witness Lon Monk pocketed envelopes of cash from Rezko.

"I told you it was going to happen in opening statements. I had no idea it was going to be from them," he says.

He speaks in his usual conversational tone, telling jurors he's going to talk to them not like "lawyers and judges" but like "regular people."

Jurors have their eyes locked on Adam as he paces back and forth across the room.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Over the break, Sam Adam Jr. hopped around the defense table, conferring with different lawyers on his team.

But as he waits for the judge to enter the courtroom, he sits quietly apart from his team, perhaps getting his game face on. He is dressed in a three-piece navy suit with a light blue tie.

The packed courtroom is buzzing with conversation as we wait. We're about half an hour into this "10-minute" recess.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Judge James Zagel essentially just explained to Sam Adam Jr. how to cross the line and get away with bringing up "missing witnesses" in his closing argument.

Zagel tells Adam that if he steps over the line in his closing argument, the judge will sit him down in the middle of his remarks. So, Zagel suggests, if Adam wants to step over this line, he should reorganize his argument and put that part at the end -- so the judge can sit him down when it's about to be over.

At that, Sam Adam Jr. stops and looks around the courtroom, slowly scanning as if in amazement. The judge calls a 10-minute recess to give Adam time to rework his argument.

Before the unusual dialogue, Zagel ruled against the defense's bid to reconsider its request to tell jurors that the government didn't call a list of key witnesses. The defense would argue, then, that jurors should assume the witnesses would have helped Rod Blagojevich -- or at the very least, hurt the government.

Zagel also tackled Adam's public statement yesterday that he'd go to jail before going along with the judge's ruling.

"I got the transcript," the judge said. "I didn't use the word jail, you used the word jail. But to put you at ease, Mr. Adam, jail is not in the picture and never was in the picture. I don't know where they lock up lawyers for making objection statements, but we don't do it here."

"So if you were wondering who you were going to give your watch to, you don't have to worry about that," he said.

The judge then called out the defense on waiting until the last minute to bring up the issue -- noting that he ruled on the issue days ago -- and questioned whether it was all a show.

He told the defense team they had the same power to call the "missing witnesses" that the government did. But the defense never invoked that right, Zagel said.

"I don't believe that there was ever, in this case, a desire by the defense to actually have these witnesses here, on the fear that some of what they had to say would be favorable to the government," Zagel said.

"You'd rather have a witness not appear and then tax the government with their non-appearance," he continued. "But the government can't be blamed for their non-appearance."

"That's the status that I explained very clearly on Friday, yet you wait until the moment before closing arguments to start to make a big fuss over this," the judge said.

After his clash yesterday, Sam Adam Jr. did little of the talking with the judge. Attorneys Aaron Goldstein and Shelly Sorosky stepped in at times.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

There are 10 minutes until the showdown between Sam Adam Jr. and Judge Zagel is expected to start. There's plenty of speculation among reporters as we wait to see what the morning will bring.

There's obviously a lot of interest among the public, as well -- crowds were here extra early today. Word is that people who arrived at 4:30 this morning were too late to get a ticket for the courtroom.

Folks who got turned away headed down to the overflow courtroom, where a line 30 people deep waited as of 8 a.m.

As for lawyers Sam Adam Jr. and Sr., nobody's spotted them yet this morning. We hear they too got here very early -- leaving home at 5 a.m.

At about 8:50, Sam Jr. walks past the crowd gathered outside the courtroom. He waves a quick hello.

Shortly after 9 a.m., Sam Jr. walks through the media crowd and with a smile on his face, put out his hands, wrists up, as if he were getting cuffed.

He then helped two friends get into the courtroom.

"Lord knows I'm against violating rules so come on," Sam Adam Jr. says as he helps two friends under a rope.

Blagojevich trial: Day 28 Closings or contempt?

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After Rod Blagojevich's lead lawyer told a federal judge he couldn't abide by his ruling, he was told to show up at 8:45 a.m. to discuss closing arguments before the 9:30 a.m. start time.

Judge James Zagel told defense lawyer Sam Adam Jr. he couldn't argue about matters not in evidence, specifically, he couldn't reference that the prosecution hadn't called witnesses they had promised to call. Adam said he couldn't properly defend his client if he listened to the judge.

Zagel, who had ruled on the issue Friday while talking about jury instructions, said if Adam didn't listen, he'd be held in contempt of court. He then suggested that Adam reconstruct his closing argument or have another attorney give it.

Adam left the courthouse vowing to go to jail if it were necessary.

So ...

Up today:

1. Adam delivers a closing argument abiding by Zagel.
OR
2. Adam crosses the line and heads potentially for the jail house.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

After court, Sam Adam Jr. said said he would go to jail "in a heartbeat" if that's what it takes.

"I have no qualms of going to prison if that's what's best," he said outside after court.

Asked if he thought the judge was fair, Adam Jr. turned and smiled.

"You know I can't answer that. But I think you know the answer," he said.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

A fiery clash between Rod Blagojevich's lawyer and judge broke out at the end of court, with the judge threatening to hold Sam Adam Jr. in contempt of court if he didn't abide by his ruling and Adam later vowing to go to jail over the dispute.

The jury was out of the room when the clash happened. It ultimately sidetracked the trial for the day and it's back on tomorrow morning.

Zagel told Adam he could not tell jurors in his closing argument that the government had refused to call 35 witnesses named in the indictment, including Tony Rezko, Bill Quinlan and Stuart Levine.

"I don't want to get into the classic mode that if the facts are against you and the law is against you, then attack the opposing lawyer. That's all you're doing," Zagel said. "The fact is, you cannot draw an evidentiary inference from the fact a witness was not called by the other side when you had an equal right to call them."

"I have been more deferential," Adam responded, "but with all due deference to the court, I have a man here who's arguing for his life ... I can't effectively represent this man ... I can't follow this order."

"You will follow this order, because if you don't you will be in contempt of court," Zagel shot back.

Zagel said he would send the jury home for the day and give Adam time to rework his closing.

"I can understand, given your profound misunderstanding of the legal rules, perhaps you're not prepared to argue," the judge said. "It may be possible for you to designate another lawyer to argue for your client if you're incapable of following my rulings."

After the sidebar, Adam came back to the defense table and put some items into a briefcase. Rod Blagojevich walked over to him and the two shook hands and exchanged words.

The judge has adjourned court for the day. We will reconvene at 9:30 tomorrow with the rest of the closing arguments.

After court, Sam Adam Jr. said said he would go to jail "in a heartbeat" if that's what it takes. "I have no qualms of going to prison if that's what's best," he said outside.

Asked if he thought the judge was fair, Adam Jr. turned and smiled.

"You know I can't answer that. But I think you know the answer," he said.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Robert Blagojevich time and time again fended off a bribe offer from members of the Indian community who offered millions of dollars if the governor would appoint Jesse Jackson Jr. to the Senate, Robert's attorney tells the jury.

Attorney Michael Ettinger re-tells the saga surrounding the alleged $6 million offer - Robert's coffee shop talk with Rajinder Bedi in which the fund-raiser brings up Raghu Nayak's lucrative offer; the taped call between Rod and Rob when they discuss the fund-raising benefits of holding off on naming a Senate successor until after two key fund-raising events; another taped call between Robert and Babu Patel in which the governor's brother says "Money is not gonna be a factor here."

Robert fought at every step, Ettinger argues.

"Listen to the tape," Ettinger urges the jury. "Listen to his voice. What does this man gotta do to tell people he's not going to be involved in this?"

Ettinger is in overtime; he's gone significantly over the one hour he said he'd need. Judge James Zagel breaks in, telling the attorney he has five minute to conclude.

"I didn't know I was timed," Ettinger said. The judge offers two extra minutes.
"This is my last topic. Can I finish it without rushing?" Ettinger said. "It might be 10 minutes."
The judge pauses. "Sure," he says.

Ettinger clearly didn't want to speed through the Jesse Jackson Jr. point - it's a key charge against his client. Still, he wraps up quickly.

"You heard (the government) prove beyond a reason doubt that he's innocent," Ettinger says. "He's an innocent man."

"Let your conscience be your guide," he says. "Remember what did this man do? What did he say? Not what his brother said to him -- what did he do?"

"Go back there and sign a not guilty verdict for all four of them," Ettinger concludes.

He's referring to the four counts against Robert Blagojevich. It was five until this morning, when prosecutors dropped one wire fraud charge.

Zagel and the lawyers are having a conference before Sam Adam Jr. begins.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Judge James Zagel interrupts Michael Ettinger, asking how long he has left in his closing. The attorney for Robert Blagojevich says he has about 30 minutes to go.

We're clearly behind schedule. The judge wanted to finish all the closing arguments in one day, but with Sam Adam Jr. and the government wrap-up to go, that's looking increasingly unlikely.

Instead, Zagel says, closings will carry into tomorrow. Ettinger will wrap up for Robert Blagojevich this afternoon and then Sam Adam Jr. will present about half of his argument for Rod Blagojevich. He'll finish up in the morning, to be followed by the government's final argument.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Prosecutors argued earlier that just because Rod Blagojevich's schemes never got carried out, it doesn't mean the ex-governor isn't guilty.

Now Michael Ettinger, attorney for his brother, Robert Blagojevich, paints the issue a different way.

Ettinger gives an example of a Lamborghini sitting outside his office with the keys left inside. If he tells his colleague, attorney Cheryl Schroeder, that he wants to take it for a joyride and she says no, are they guilty of taking the car, he asks?

No, he says. "You can't get convicted in this country for talking to your brother and raising something that then gets shot down," Ettinger says. "No, not in this country."

Ettinger paints his client as an honest person who was out of his element in his brother's world of politics and fund-raising.

The attorney dismissed any nefarious role Rob had in working with "bundlers," the behind-the scenes rain-makers who convince donors to give to candidates, "bundling up packages of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars that show up as individual donations on campaign contribution lists."

"Bundlers, they're people that, they're lobbyists or whatever. They're people that have fundraisers. What did Rob do? He was a scorekeeper: 'How you doing?' 'How much money you have coming in?' He was a pain. But that's what you do," Ettinger said.

That means Robert had to work the phones, Ettinger says.

"He would make phone calls. In fact, he would make that same call that he made to (Children's Memorial Hospital CEO) Patrick Magoon hundreds of times over those four months: 'Can you have a fund-raiser?'"

Another comical moment earlier. Ettinger puts on a giant screen a photo of Johnny Carson dressed as "Carnac the Magnificent," holding a sealed letter to his head.

The courtroom gallery laughs.

Ettinger points to it and says it's akin to John Wyma's testimony -- where the former Blago chief of staff tries to guess what's inside Robert Blagojevich's mind when he testified that Robert was shaking down Patrick Magoon for campaign cash.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Robert Blagojevich, the one-time head of the Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund, did not mix politics and fund-raising, his lawyer said as the defense began presenting its two-pronged closing arguments this afternoon.

Michael Ettinger, the defense attorney for the ex-governor's brother, described Robert Blagojevich as a "person of honor, a person of character" during his four-month stint heading Rod Blagojevich's campaign fund.

Ettinger said Blagojevich gave up a successful business career in Tennessee in 2008 to help revive his brother's depleted campaign fund and to help lessen tensions with his brother - and was unaware of any illegal activity.

Ettinger dwelt on Robert Blagojevich's background in the military and business and raising funds for the YMCA and the Red Cross. Initially, he was reticent about answering his brother's call for help running his struggling fund-raising operation.

"Robert didn't want to do it, but he did. When Robert gives a commitment to do something, he keeps his word," Ettinger said.

"He did not come here to bribe. He did not come here to extort. He came here to fund-raise," Ettinger continued.

"The reason he did it was to repair the fractured relationship between brothers," Ettinger said. "That's the main reason he came up here. It was to help his brother in need."

Ettinger is pacing as he talks. He has his hands folded over his stomach and has a nervous tick where he nods his head after every other sentence.

Still, he is getting chuckles from the gallery and from Rod, as he pokes fun at his own lack of commitment to the military when compared to Robert's and at Rod Blagojevich's basketball skills.

Earlier, he got a chuckle from his client, too.

"Let's start in the 1950s," Ettinger said of Robert Blagojevich early on in his closing. "He graduated from Lane Tech."

Robert Blagojevich, who's 54, smiled over to others on his defense team at the date. He actually graduated decades later.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Before wrapping up his closing argument, prosecutor Chris Niewoehner laid out each of the counts for the jurors on an overhead screen.

Count by count, he explains what's being charged, the elements of the crime, and, in bullet points, highlights their evidence.

Rod looks somber and serious throughout this. He's leaning forward, staring at the prosecutor, occasionally clasping his hands or biting his lower lip.

Niewoehner finishes his argument around 2:05 by calling on the jury to find the defendants guilty on "each and every" count.

"(Rod Blagojevich) knew exactly what was happening," the prosecutor says. "And now you do, too."

When the prosecutor finished, Rod turned to his daughters, smiled, and mouthed something to his youngest daughter, Annie, as Patti passed her hand over the 7-year-old's hair.

He then exchanged words with his older daughter, Amy, before turning attention to remarks by the lawyer for his older brother.

Attorney Michael Ettinger is now giving his closing argument for Robert Blagojevich.

Blagojevich trial: Closing arguments running long

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Rod, Patti and their two daughters said nothing as they walked back into the courtroom after lunch. Rod silently waved to the crowd outside the courtroom.

Back from the lunch break, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Niewoehner picks up where he left off -- going over each of the charges against Rod Blagojevich and pointing out the evidence that he says proves he's guilty.

Annie is sitting on her mom's lap again. She's restless, at times peeking over to courtroom sketch artists and whispering to her mom, smiling.

Last week, Niewoehner said he'd take about two hours for his closing argument. At this point, accounting for breaks, he's going on 2-1/2.

Judge James Zagel wanted to get through all the closing arguments today. If that's still the case, we may be in for a long day.

Attorneys for the defendants said they would need 2-1/2 hours for their two closing arguments, and once they're done, the prosecution gets a last shot to address the jury. That's supposed to take an hour.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Perhaps nearing the conclusion of his closing argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Niewoehner again tackles what has been a key idea of the defense -- that Rod Blagojevich was unsuccessful in carrying out any of the alleged schemes and is therefore not guilty.

Niewoehner takes the allegations surrounding Jesse Jackson Jr. as an example. He argues that even if the ex-governor didn't really plan to appoint the congressman to a vacant Senate seat, he is still guilty of trying to accept a bribe of $6 million in campaign cash from his supporters.

"What is bribery?" Niewoehner asks the jury. He says a key point is that the bribery can be "indirect" -- "It does not have to be 'x' for 'y.'"

"You do not have to say to (Jackson supporter) Raghu Nayak, 'I will give you a Senate seat only if you give me $1 million," he says. "People do not talk that way. You flip $1 million on the table, wink and say 'I'd like to be senator.' Is there any doubt what you mean?"

The government doesn't have to show that Blagojevich actually intended to appoint Jackson, Niewoehner says -- just that he tried to convince Jackson's supporters that he did, so they would give him the money.

"These bribe attempts don't have to work. Attempts are fine," Niewoehner says.

"Again, you don't have to be a successful criminal to be a criminal," he tells them.

Niewoehner then goes through each type of charge and explains the elements of wire fraud, conspiracy, extortion and conspiracy to commit bribery. He points to specific evidence that he believes supports each count.

Rod Blagojevich's youngest daughter, Annie, was back in the courtroom. Patti Blagojevich was holding the small seven year old, who was looking over her mom's shoulder. Annie looked like she was trying to keep busy by staring at the courtroom sketch artists.

Niewoehner was still talking when Judge James Zagel cut in around 12:30. "Lunch has arrived," he said, and called a one-hour break.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Robert Blagojevich lied to jurors repeatedly on the witness stand, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Niewoehner tells the jury.

Niewoehner focuses on the ex-governor's brother for several minutes, poking holes in what was seen as a successful testimony for the defense -- so successful that the Blago brothers' defense team chose to make him their last witness.

"Robert Blagojevich got on the witness stand and he lied to you," the prosecutor says.
He says Robert lied about not mixing government and fund-raising as well as his brother's intention to personally benefit from an appointment to the U.S. Senate.

"This is the guy who talked about shutting down the criminal investigation in exchange for the Senate seat," Niewoehner says, recalling tapes the jurors heard. "This is the guy who talks about 'tit for tat' and horse-trading."

Niewoehner says that Robert got through his cross-examination by "dancing" and "dodging."

"You couldn't get a straight English sentence out of his mouth when he was talking about that because he knew if he did admit it... he was done," the prosecutor says.

Blagojevich trial: What the prosecution is trying to do

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Reporting with Sarah Ostman, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Prosecutors opened up closing remarks to jurors by taking on the contention that since many of the charged acts weren't completed, there was no crime.

They also poked at Rod Blagojevich's lawyer's contentions that he didn't get a dime.

"The law doesn't require you to be a successful crook, it just requires you to be a crook," Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Niewoehner said.

Niewoehner pointed to hundreds of thousands of dollars that Patti Blagojevich was paid by Tony Rezko to allegedly do nothing in real estate deals.

"How many dimes are there in hundreds of thousands of dollars?" Niewoehner said.
Early on, Niewoehner took on Sam Adam Jr.'s opening statement promise that by the trial's end, jurors would know in Rod Blagojevich was innocent.
"You were going to know in your gut that Rod Blagojevich is as honest as the day is long," Niewoehner said. "Now is the time to answer those questions."

While Adam in opening statements criticized prosecutors for charging a man who is
broke, Niewoehner said the reason he was broke: the federal investigation cut off the former governor from Tony Rezko. Rezko's payments to Patti Blagojevich stopped in 2004, when state board member Stuart Levine was interviewed by the FBI, he said.

That is as close as prosecutors got to referencing the lack of a defense case by the former governor. Because prosecutors have the burden of proof, they aren't allowed to reference a defendant's lack of testimony or lack of a defense case.

"The heart of this case boils down to something very simple: The governor of the state of Illinois cannot exchange taking some state action for some personal benefit like money or a campaign contribution," Niewoehner told jurors. "You do -- that that's a bribe."

Niewoehner said the Senate seat sale attempt is just the most recent of Rod Blagojevich's crimes while he served as governor of our state.
"That very scheme was the culmination of years of dirty schemes," he said.

The remarks all came as Rod Blagojevich's family sat in court -- including, for the first time, his two daughters, Amy, 14, and Annie, 7.
Annie was taken out of the courtroom early on by her aunt, Deb Mell. She wasn't acting up but looked a bit bored sitting in the courtroom for a bit.
Niewoehner is up first, so he's giving the summary of events. His delivery is methodical and direct and purposely lacking too much passion.
His job is to go through each charge then point to all the specific examples that the prosecution believes supports the count.
Niewoehner is pointing to witnesses, particularly Lon Monk, and linking testimony from others as well as recordings to corroborate what Monk said.

Expect the government's rebuttal, from Reid Schar, to be more impassioned and really drive home why prosecutors saw fit to bring a massive case against Rod Blagojevich.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

The ex-governor's scheme to profit from appointing Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. to the U.S. Senate seat was "the culmination of years of dirty scheming," prosecutor Chris Niewoehner says.

The prosecutor continues to walk jurors through the testimony presented over the past seven weeks.

He reminds them of evidence that the ex-governor tried to shake down former Rahm Emanuel by holding up state cash for a school in the then-congressman district; that the ex-governor sent operatives to try to oust the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune; that he offered to put former state Senate President Emil Jones in the U.S. Senate if he agreed to fork over his campaign war chest.

Blagojevich did all these things because he was desperate for cash, the prosecutor says.

He draws a connection to testimony of an IRS agent who showed that by 2008 Blago's campaign fund was tanking, his debt was through the roof, and he owed $1.3 million to Winston & Strawn for legal fees for his investigation.

"In politics, money is power," Niewoehner says.

Regarding charges that the ex-governor tried to shake down a road-building executive by dangling a multi-billion dollar tollway project before him, the prosecutor calls Blagojevich a "bully."

"What does a bully do?" he asks the jury. "He forces people to do things they don't want to do. What does that bully do when sitting on top of $5 billion dollars [in tollway money]? He can bully a lot of people into doing things they don't want to do."

We're a little more than halfway through the government's closing argument. It's expected to run about two hours.


Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

"The heart of this case boils down to something very simple," Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Niewoehner tells the jury in his closing argument. "The governor of the state of Illinois cannot exchange taking some state action for some personal benefit like money or a campaign contribution. You do -- that's a bribe."

Rod Blagojevich's "inner circle" schemed and plotted to use the ex-governor's position to personally benefit themselves and their conspirators, Niewoehner continues.

He's referring to Blagojevich's former law school roommate, Lon Monk; convicted businessman and political hot potato Tony Rezko; and Blago fund-raiser and friend Chris Kelly, who killed himself after pleading guilty to related crimes -- although the jury doesn't know that.

"They're in the driver's seat of state government and also in the driver's seat in terms of raising money," Niewoehner says.

The prosecutor recaps testimony of a list of government cooperators and witnesses. That includes Joe Cari, who testified about a plane ride in which the ex-governor tried to get him to cooperate in what Cari saw as illegal fund-raising efforts.

"Cari is someone who worked at the national level (in fund-raising), but he'd never seen anything like this," Niewoehner says.

And he reminds the jury about the testimony of Ali Ata, who testified about dropping a $25,000 check on a table in front of the governor at Tony Rezko's office -- a campaign contribution that was allegedly a down payment on a lucrative state job.


Reporting with Sarah Ostman and Dave McKinney


In closing arguments in Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial, Prosecutor Chris Niewoehner argues off the bat that just because the charged acts weren't completed doesn't mean the former governor didn't break the law.

"The law doesn't require you to be a successful crook, it just requires you to be a crook," Niewoehner tells jurors and a packed courtroom.

Niewoehner is addressing defense contention that this was all just talk.

Niewoehner focuses the beginning of his argument on the Senate seat sale attempts, saying that the former governor of Illinois who claimed he looked out first for the people of the state was really trying to shake down President Elect Barack Obama.
"It was a trade, it was an exchange it was a sale," Niewoehner said of the Blagojevich's alleged attempts to extract a benefit from Obama in exchange for Valerie Jarrett's appointment.
Niewoehner is spelling out various phone calls from Blagojevich himself -- to union leader Tom Balanoff and then again to union consultant and onetime Blagojevich aide Doug Scofield -- in which Blagojevich asked to be the head of a foundation in exchange for Jarrett.
"Ladies and gentlemen, these were just part of the things Rod Blagojevich was doing to make things happen," Niewoehner said of the phone calls.
"All those steps are crimes. All those attempts to sell ... are the crime."

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

The courtroom hushes quickly and Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Niewoehner launches into his closing argument.

In a calm, clear voice, he begins with what has perhaps become the case's most famous sound bite.

"On Nov. 5, 2008, the day after the historic election of Barack Obama, defendant Rod Blagojevich (responded) this way: 'I've got this thing and it's f-ing golden, and I'm not giving it up for f-ing nothing.'"

"This was the governor of the state of Illinois talking, scheming about his ability to appoint a U.S. senator to the U.S. Congress," he says.

"'I've got this thing, I'm not giving it up,'" Niewoehner continues. "It was about him, defendant Rod Blagojevich and not the people of the state of Illinois, who he had sworn an oath to serve."

The ex-governor is sitting with his hands folded, so far expressionless as he takes in these closing arguments.

As for defendant Robert Blagojevich, he started his day off well. Prosecutors dismissed one of the five counts against him, a wire fraud count.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Rod walked into the federal courthouse today with his wife, Patti, dressed in a black semi-formal dress, and their daughters, Annie, 14, and Amy, 7. It's the first time they've brought their kids to the proceedings.

The ex-governor didn't talk to supporters coming in. He gave a thumbs up and said "thanks man," to one supporter. Rod Blagojevich signed an autograph before walking into the courthouse.

"This is the hottest ticket in town," said Cheryl Schroeder, who is on the defense team for Robert Blagojevich. Schroeder was trying to find family members of another lawyer to get into court. The upstairs courtroom sold out of tickets before 6 a.m. Only 24 public tickets were handed out.

Judges and courthouse personnel had been calling in trying to get reserved seats. Those requests were denied, according to one security officer.

Blagojevich trial: Day 27 -- Closing arguments

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How did we get here so fast? Rod Blagojevich's public corruption trial, one of the most significant trials in Chicago history, has breezed by. Here we are already at closing arguments.

By comparison, the prosecution's case in the trial of businessman Tony Rezko lasted nine weeks, compared to six weeks in the trial of the "big fish," Blagojevich. Jury selection, testimony, playing of tapes and defense in Rod Blagojevich's case totaled 26 days (before today). In Rezko's case, one witness, Stuart Levine, was on the stand for parts of 15 days.
Rezko also did not put on a defense case.

Last week recap:

Bombshell news on Tuesday: Rod Blagojevich's lawyers told U.S. District Judge James Zagel that despite the repeated promises, the former governor would not take the stand.
Prosecutors appeared shocked.
Blagojevich and his lawyers learned through prep that he just couldn't withstand what was promised to be withering cross examination.

Before that, Robert Blagojevich gave compelling testimony from the stand, repeatedly denying any intent to help his brother sell the U.S. Senate seat and minimizing Indian fund-raisers as clumsy, unsophisticated, keystone cops who offered $6 million for Jesse Jackson Jr.'s appointment.

Up today:
1. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Niewoehner gives a 2-2 1/2 hour summation
2. Robert Blagojevich lawyer Michael Ettinger closes for about one hour
3. Sam Adam Jr. talks for about 2 1/2 hours for Rod Blagojevich
4. Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar gives a one hour rebuttal.

Game on Monday -- jury instructions concluded

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Closing arguments in Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial are set for Monday after a lengthy day of jury instructions today.

"We lost 90-1," complained Sam Adam Sr. after court, referencing the apparent number of instructions offered by the government that Judge James Zagel accepted versus those offered by attorneys for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

In one debate, Zagel shot down an attempt by Blagojevich attorneys to offer a "missing witness instruction" to jurors. It argued that the government had the power to call Tony Rezko, Stuart Levine, President Obama and a myriad of others to prove its case -- but didn't.

Zagel said raising the specific names doesn't fly because the defense has the same subpoena powers but also chose not to exercise them.

"This is why you have subpoena powers. This is what we give you," Zagel told defense lawyers.

Zagel cautioned the defense from criticizing the government for failing to call those witnesses in closing arguments. If they go down that road, he warned, he'd cut in and explain to jurors that the defense had the same subpoena powers.

Hmmm. Will Blagojevich closings happen Monday afterall?

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Lawyers in Rod Blagojevich's case were supposed to go through jury instructions today beginning at 9:30 a.m.

It's almost noon and they haven't yet begun, raising the question of whether they'll wrap up the necessary business today to get closing arguments underway by Monday.

That's in part due to the judge's late start, a lengthy call beforehand and then a snag hit with a new lawyer brought on board by Rod Blagojevich's team, Marc Martin.
The proceedings just broke as Martin is trying to gather up some necessary paperwork he needs to be there.

Martin is the go-to guy when it comes to issues like jury instructions and is known to get on well with U.S. District Judge James Zagel.

At noon, Martin has to peel off for another case -- that of Conrad Black. Black is having a hearing on a new Supreme Court ruling.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Judge James Zagel said he'll make a decision by Monday on whether the names of jurors in the Blagojevich trial will remain secret.

Zagel has come under pressure by news organizations to overturn his decision, which keeps jurors' identities a secret until after a verdict is reached -- a rare move he said protects them from tampering in his highly public trial.

In front of a small crowd of reporters Thursday afternoon, Zagel said he hasn't seen a case as "high-profile" as this one since mass murderer Richard Speck's in the 1960s. He said he's personally received letters and profane phone rants from the public during the trial, in at least one case causing him to ask U.S. Marshals to pay the caller a visit.
Zagel said it's his duty to protect jurors' identities. Beyond that, he gave them their word he wouldn't release their names until after the verdict.

Zagel needled the media and others who don't take jurors' perspective into account.

"They're like a potted plant, they only come to life when they go back there
(and deliberate)," Zagel told a lawyer representing the media.

While the usual array of "cranks and gadflies" cause a nuisance in regular trials, Zagel said, emotions are much higher when dealing with a twice-elected public official in this fast-moving, drama-filled case.

"This is not, as is usually the case in high-profile cases, something that happened to somebody else," Zagel said. "We are dealing here with perhaps millions of people who voted for the defendant, millions of people who felt that their votes were betrayed."

The judge also worried about going back on his word after promising jurors anonymity, saying he runs "a real risk of diminishing the authority of the only neutral person in the trial."

An attorney for the government, Debra Bonamici, pushed for the names to remain secret. Bonamici wasted no time in citing a Wall Street Journal reporter's citation yesterday in the courthouse lobby. However, Bonamici erred by telling Zagel he attempted to question a witness and violated an order. The reporter in fact was following up with a Blagojevich attorney after a news conference.

Natalie Spears, at attorney for the Tribune Co., argued that the judge was keeping the press from doing its watchdog duties for fear of "hypothetical risks."

"We are punching at ghosts here that don't exist," she said.

The judge did pose one compromise -- releasing the names on the condition that news outlets not publish them. That way, he argued, media could investigate the jurors without putting them in jeopardy.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Closing arguments will start Monday morning and will likely conclude by the end of that day, Judge James Zagel and both teams of attorneys have decided.

First up will be Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Niewoehner, who will give a 2 - 2-1/2-hour summary closing argument.

Michael Ettinger will then give a one-hour closing for defendant Robert Blagojevich, and the fiery Sam Adam Jr. will close for Rod Blagojevich. Knowing Adam Jr.'s tendency toward long-windedness, the judge asked how long he planned to take.

Adam Jr. is not in the courtroom today -- neither are the defendants, for that matter -- so Aaron Goldstein answered for him.

"We're looking at the ballpark of 2-1/2 hours," Goldstein said.
"You sure it's that small a period of time?" Zagel said, prompting laughter in the court.
"If your honor would like more, we certainly could accommodate you," Goldstein quipped.

Closing for the ex-governor will be followed by a rebuttal by Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar.

Judge Zagel has released the lawyers. Attorneys will be back tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. to talk about jury instructions; later today at 2 p.m. will be a hearing about challenges to Zagel's ruling to keep jurors' names confidential.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Lawyers are back before Judge James Zagel this morning, making their last arguments over their motions for acquittal. It's a routine procedure in a trial; it's unlikely that the judge will actually drop charges.

The defense, headed at the lectern by attorneys Aaron Goldstein and Lauren Kaeseberg, is arguing about three main counts in the indictment: those surrounding Change to Win, a labor union organization Rod Blagojevich discussed getting a job at in exchange for appointing Barack Obama's pick to the Senate; those regarding real estate fees Patti Blagojevich accepted from Tony Rezko; and count 24, which alleges that the ex-governor lied to FBI agents.

Goldstein argues there was no illegal action taken on the Change to Win counts -- that, again, it was all just talk. On Patti's legal fees, he argues that, without expert testimony, the jury is ill-equipped to determine whether the amount of cash Patti received was appropriate for the work she did for Rezko.

And count 24 should be tossed, the defense argues, because there is no accurate transcript of Blago's FBI interview; instead, jurors are relying on an agent's testimony.

The judge says he is "unpersuaded," but will wait to make a final decision on the motion until after closing arguments.

"Sometimes my mind has been changed by what happens in closing argument," the judge says.

Blagojevich on secret tapes: Here is the tape

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Here is the audio file and transcript for the recording played in tape today, Wednesday, July 21.

transcript_12_05_2008_0802am.pdf

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Attorneys for Rod Blagojevich are now arguing about the relevance of real estate fees that Patti Blagojevich accepted from convicted businessman Tony Rezko.

Prosecutors showed that Patti banked $12,000 a month from the Rezmar development company, and also accepted tens of thousands in other checks and home improvements.

The defense is now trying to get the Patti accusations knocked from the indictment, saying there was plenty of evidence that she did legitimate work for Tony Rezko and earned those commissions.

"The government has not come close to proving that those real estate fees were anything close to a bribe," defense attorney Shelly Sorosky said.

Judge Zagel cut in and offered a historical comparison.

"Do you by any chance know who the Everleigh sisters were?" They were madames in a high-class Chicago brothel around the turn of the 20th century.

The Everleigh sisters gave cash to various police officials in order to protect themselves and their business, Zagel explains.

"I think that that would constitute bribery, even though you might not be able to point to a single specific action or inaction taken by those police officers," Zagel explains. "It might be bribery over a dozen years. Here, hypothetically, six years. ... It's still a bribe, even though it's very difficult to point to what the quo was for the quid."

"I think you're construing it too narrowly," the judge tells the defense.

Zagel has adjourned court for the day, asking attorneys to return for a brief session tomorrow morning at 9:30.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

As a part of procedure, lawyers for Rod Blagojevich are arguing before Judge James Zagel to have conspiracy charges against the ex-governor dropped. The hearing only involves lawyers; the jury was dismissed earlier and told to return Monday.

Defense attorney Lauren Kaeseberg says the government has failed to meet the burden of proof in its case. She says prosecutors have proven that Blagojevich talked a lot, but there was no furtherance toward a conspiracy.

"What they've shown is a lot of talk, a lot of speech, a lot of words spoken on the phone," Kaeseberg says. "That means if I've researched a crime, I've attempted to commit that crime? If I've talked about a crime I've attempted to commit that crime?

Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar argues there was plenty of action.

"It'd be one thing if people were sitting around talking about things and it never got past the talking stage," Schar says. "(Rod Blagojevich) had Mr. Greenlee researching ambassadorships ... He had Mr. Greenlee researching foundations ... He's the one who had the meeting with Mr. Balonoff on Nov. 6."

"This wasn't just talk, that was implementation of his plans," Schar says.

"Conspiracy is a crime of words," the judge challenges the defense. "You can have a conspiracy entered into by fools and bumblers ... and it's still a conspiracy."

The judge hasn't made a decision yet.

Earlier, while reiterating the defense's objections to prosecutors, Judge Zagel made a comment that, judging from the tapes, Blago had "arguably lost contact with reality."

As an example, Zagel points to one of the ex-governor's more outlandish ideas -- to get a bunch of billionaire donors to pump money into a trust fund that he could manage and live off. Zagel recalls Blagojevich in this conversation calling himself a "heavy hitter."

"I believe, by baseball standards, 'heavy hitter' is a ridiculously inappropriate phrase to describe him," Zagel says. "In political terms, this was a guy who was batting .110 in class D minor league."

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

A Wall Street Journal reporter was handcuffed in the lobby of the courthouse just a few minutes ago.

"Interviewing an attorney," reporter Doug Belkin said, handcuffed in the elevator with several court security officers. It's against courthouse rules to do interviews outside a designated press area.

The security officers escorted the reporter up to lock-up.

"I told him three times to back up and he didn't. He put his hands on me," the security officer said.

After holing up in a conference room with his lawyers for over an hour, Rod Blagojevich finally spoke to the media early Tuesday afternoon. Here's what he said:


"From the very beginning -- when all of this happened and the government came into our home and took me away from our kids and then ultimately from the people of Illinois -- I said from the beginning i did nothing illegal," he said with Patti beside him.

"In the tapes that the government played, they proved, as i said all along, that I did nothing illegal. In fact, they proved that I sought the advice of my lawyers and my advisers, they proved that i was on the phone talking with them, brainstorming about ideas.

"Yes, they proved some of the ideas were stupid, but they also proved some of the ideas were good. Brainstorming and free speech is part of what the American experience is supposed to be.

And talking to your advisers as a governor and taking advice, especially from those who are lawyers, to make sure you do your duty the right way, is what i did and what those tapes prove," he said.

"The government also proved in their case ... I never took a corrupt dollar, I never took a corrupt dime, not a corrupt nickel, not a corrupt penny. And besides that, the government also proved that for the six years i was governor, Patti and i overpaid every year our federal taxes.

"I thought all along and believed all along that I was going to testify. The government told us their case was going to be something like four months. And as a result of what they said their case was going to be, we operated under the assumption that I was going to testify.

"There's no secret that there's a division between my layers, between father and son, Sam Adam Jr. and Sam Adam Sr.

"Sam Adam Jr. still, to this moment, wanted me to testify, and frankly so did I ... but ultimately I relied on the judgment ultimately and the advice of Sam Adam Sr. who is the coach of our team..."

"After 39 years of experience, when he sat in my living room until 11:30 Monday night, after talking about these issues right after the government rested their case... Sam Adam Sr.'s most compelling argument, and ultimately the one that swayed me, was that the government in their case proved my innocence, they proved I did nothing illegal and there was nothing further for us to add."

"He believed it was prudent to rest the case..."

"I've learned a lot of lessons from this whole experience and perhaps maybe the biggest lesson I've learned is that i talk too much. Thank you."

media

The press pit in the lobby of the Dirksen Federal Building is packed to the gills as reporters wait for Rod Blagojevich and his team of lawyers to exit the building. We've been told they plan to talk.

Word is the team is now hunkered down in a conference room upstairs, possibly strategizing about what to say to the media. It's hard to get definite word, though -- court personnel has banned everyone from the courtroom area.

In the meantime, court security officers have had to bring out ropes to hold back the restless crowd of reporters and cameramen. It's the first time that's happened this entire trial. A mic stand is nearly toppling over with microphones.

"Still waiting," the officers are telling us. "We'll let you know as soon as we hear anything." It's been more than half an hour.

Earlier, Judge Zagel and attorneys handled some housekeeping and said court would reconvene at 1:30.

At noon, there's still no sighting. But the crowd is holding its ground -- no one wants to miss this.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Judge James Zagel announces that closing statements will resume Monday at 9:30. He says he will give the jurors instructions on their deliberations this morning, in private, after a 10-minute break.

"I plan to instruct the jury in the jury room, rather than bring them back here, to continue their duties not to pay attention to media," Zagel says, "and tell them we'll resume again Monday at 9:30."

Over the break, Rod Blagojevich signs autographs.

He's in the courtroom with one foot propped on a bench, signing autographs on his knee.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Judge James Zagel has the jury taken out of the room and then addresses Rod Blagojevich.

The judge asks him to state his name for the record. "Rod Blagojevich."

Zagel explains to Blagojevich that it has to be his own decision not to testify.

"So now I'm going to ask you if it is your personal decision not to take the witness stand," the judge says
"Yes, judge," the ex-governor responds.

Zagel asks Blagojevich if he had discussed the matter with his attorneys.

"Yes, judge, fully and completely," he says.

And you have "deliberated in your own mind" after discussing with your lawyers? the judge asks.

"It is my decision, judge, on the advice of my attorneys. I made the decision freely and voluntarily," he says, speaking longer than necessary but sounding perfectly comfortable.

Zagel says he is satisfied and tells Blagojevich to sit down or remain standing.

"What would you recommend, judge?" the ex-governor asks.
"I would return to your seat," the judge says without hesitation.

Rod laughs and moves through his lawyers, touching one on the shoulder. Still smiling, he sits down, unbuttons his suit coat, runs his left hand through his hair, and with his hands clasps, sits and listens.

Blagojevich trial: Government rests

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

The government calls one rebuttal witness for Robert Blagojevich, FBI agent Dan Cain, and played a couple recordings. The defense objected to the tapes, but the judge overruled.

One is a call from Dec. 5, 2008 at 8:02 a.m. in which Robert Blagojevich tells a Friends of Blagojevich assistant he doesn't want to talk on the phone.

"I'd rather do it on the cell, where no one can hear us," she says.

"Oh, I don't know about that," Robert answers.

The government has rested its case.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

As the courtroom waits for the jury to be seated, Rod is sitting at the defense table, occasionally laughing and once waving to a courtroom artist. He's fiddling with a pen, while talking to attorney Shelly Sorosky.

Rod is in a navy suit, Patti is wearing a summer dress and has a pair of dark circles under her eyes. She's sitting next to her sister, Deb Mell.

The judge and jury have entered.

Sorosky announces that the defense rests, making it official that Rod Blagojevich will not testify.

After much anticipation, the scene was not a dramatic one. Judge James Zagel asked if Robert Blagojevich had any other evidence to offer. He didn't.

In those seconds, Rod Blagojevich sat at the defense table, looking down. He neatly organized pens in front of his notebook.

Zagel then gestured to Sorosky, who stood up and announced it: "At this time, the defendant Rod Blagojevich would rest."

The jurors all looked at the defendant's table.

One jurors' eyes widened hearing the news. Others, for the most part, remained without expression.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Rod Blagojevich arrived at a media-frenzied courthouse around 9:30 this morning. But on this "decision day," the usually outspoken ex-governor walked right past crowds of reporters and cameras.

Outside the courthouse, he shook hands with a cabbie, waved at onlookers and posed for a picture -- but said nothing. When asked specifically whether he intended to testify, he did not respond.

Upstairs, the hallway outside the 25th floor courtroom is packed with onlookers. The ex-governor waved and said only, "Welcome to the trial."

His lawyer, Sam Adam Jr., was asked if his client would testify, but only smiled and shrugged.

Sources say Blagojevich has not changed his mind -- he is not expected to take the stand.

At 9:40, the media is still cordoned off from entering the courtroom -- but the tension is already palpable. One reporter is sweating profusely, wiping sweat with a napkin. Another spoke of feeling unnerved.

A security officer just announced that whoever doesn't have a ticket should go to the overflow room on the 14th floor now, because there will be no room.

The overflow room is crowded, too. The usually-empty benches for the public are filled with people, and new media faces are vying for precious seats at the tables. Even the jury box is full of spectators.

Judge James Zagel has been holding hearings for other cases this morning, but wrapped up that other business around 9:45. The Blagojevich trial is next up, in just a few minutes.

Finally, just before 10:00 -- a half-hour later than usual -- spectators have been let into the courtroom. A court officer announces to the chatty room that the judge will "not tolerate" people jumping up and rushing out once the action starts, and urges people to go to the overflow room now -- clearly a warning to the media.

Blagojevich trial: Day 26 -- Decision Day

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After a night of wrangling, a haggard-looking defense team for Rod Blagojevich was ready to rest its case without calling a witness Tuesday -- but lawyers were told by the judge to sleep on the decision.

We'll be back today, at 9:30 a.m. with a final public decision by Rod Blagojevich.

Rod Blagojevich attorneys Sam Adam Sr. and Sam Adam Jr. said publicly they were divided on whether to put the former governor on the stand. But Attorney Sheldon Sorosky later told me: "There's absolutely no dissension among the lawyers."

Ultimately, sources tell the Sun-Times that on Monday night, the attorneys and the former governor agreed that Blagojevich couldn't withstand what promised to be a stinging cross examination. They were also concerned because during preparation he was reluctant to admit he made mistakes and couldn't keep his answers brief.

Also factoring into the calculation: there was some concern that Tony Rezko might be called as a rebuttal witness by the prosecution if Blagojevich took the stand.

Sorosky conceded that without Blagojevich on the stand it closed the door to calling any rebuttal witness -- Rezko or otherwise.

The challenge now left for the defense: Sam Adam Jr. told jurors in his opening statement they would hear from Rod Blagojevich. Judge James Zagel will tell jurors they aren't allowed to hold the decision not to testify against a defendant.

Up today:

Blagojevich is expected to announce he won't testify. If that happens, U.S. District Judge James Zagel, outside of the jury's presence, will explain to him his rights and ask him if he's sure of his decision and that he is making that decision.

robert

After two days on the witness stand, a still-composed, well-spoken Robert Blagojevich spoke to reporters on his way out of the courthouse this afternoon.

"I consider myself to be an innocent man," he told a mass of reporters and cameras. "This whole experience has been a test that I hope none of you have to go through. And with that, I bid you adieu and I appreciate your interest."

Robert's attorney, Michael Ettinger, joined Robert moments later at the microphone. Ettinger had told the judge earlier that he rested his case if his co-defendants -- that is, lawyers for Rod Blagojevich -- planned to call no witnesses.

Many of the reporters' questions focused on that bombshell of today -- that the former governor likely won't testify in his defense after all, despite 19 months of proclamations that he would take the stand to clear his name.

But Ettinger repeatedly declined to talk about that. "It's really not my place," he said.

One reporter asked Robert, fresh off prosecutor Chris Niewoehner's tough cross-examination, what advice he would give his brother on whether to testify.

"Who am I to give him advice?" Robert answered, acknowledging that his relationship with the ex-governor is "strained." "He doesn't listen to me, you should know that by now."

"I told the truth, and if the truth is good, I did well." he said.

Another reporter asked if he had any more plans to work in politics.

"I just want to go home to Nashville," he said.

Sources: Gov. Rod Blagojevich doesn't plan to testify

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Sources told the Chicago Sun-Times that Blagojevich is unlikely to take the stand and that his lawyers told U.S. District Judge James Zagel they plan to rest their case without calling a single witness. However, Zagel asked them in a private conference to think about it over night.

Read the online story now: Click here

Before adjourning for the day, Zagel conferred privately with the attorneys in the case and told the defense lawyers to take tonight to think over their decision, according to the sources. Zagel said the trial would resume at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The former governor had been expected to testify in his own defense starting this afternoon but did not take the stand.

Earlier today, during a lunchtime break in the trial, Blagojevich's lead attorney, Sam Adam Jr., wouldn't say whether Blagojevich would testify.

And Adam's father and co-counsel, Sam Adam Sr., said only: "Nothing is a certainty."

Judge James Zagel: Court is adjourned for the day

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

After a 15-minute private conference with lawyers, Judge James Zagel came back and adjourned court for the day.

"I wish to announce that after a lengthy discussion about what we're going to do tomorrow and scheduling tomorrow, and considering the fact that it's 3:30, I have decided to adjourn," he said.5

Court will resume at 9:30 tomorrow.

Blagojevich trial: Robert Blagojevich off the stand

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

After a quick re-direct by attorney Michael Ettinger, Robert Blagojevich, the ex-governor's brother, is off the stand.

Attorneys have called a sidebar.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

After news broke on Dec. 5, 2008, that there may have been secret recordings of the former governor made after lobbyist John Wyma talked to the feds, Rod and Robert Blagojevich decided to call off the meeting Robert had scheduled with Raghu Nayak.

Robert testifies that he made up an excuse to get out of that meeting, saying he had to be somewhere with his brother.

"It was an unusual circumstance and sometimes you have to make a judgment," Robert testifies. "And I made a judgment I was going to lie to him."

After the news about Wyma came out, Robert testifies, someone on the governor's team had the Illinois State Police sweep the Friends of Blagojevich office for bugs on Dec. 8, 2008 -- but Robert said he wasn't concerned.

"Having the place swept for wires and bugs didn't matter to me. We were doing nothing improper," Robert testifies. "I never directed it. if Rod did, I'm not aware of it."

Robert testifies that the order came from Chrissy Jacobs, a "politically connected" administrative assistant who was "very concerned about eavesdropping" and "a very excitable personality."

The fact that the FOB offices may have been swept for bugs is a new revelation. Ultimately it did no good, or came too late -- the FBI had bugs up already in the office, in addition to tapping numerous phone lines. And the governor was arrested the next day.

Also, this wasn't the first time that an Illinois governor had used state police to try to combat federal investigators. A top aide to now-imprisoned Gov. George Ryan had state troopers do an illegal sweep of that governor's Rosemont campaign office during his investigation in fall 1994.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Robert Blagojevich testifies that he didn't take a $6 million offer from Raghu Nayak seriously, saying that he and others in a group of Indian fund-raisers advocating for Jesse Jackson Jr. for the Senate were "awkward and clumsy and naive."

Prosecutor Chris Niewoehner reminds Robert Blagojevich that he previously described Nayak -- who in fall 2008 told the governor's brother he would fund-raise $6 million if Blago would appoint Jackson to the Senate -- as an "amusing gentleman."

The prosecutor suggests this may not be an apt description for a man offering up bribes of $6 million.

"I just felt he was out of his element in what he was talking about and I didn't hold it against him," Robert Blagojevich said.

"Having grown up in an ethnic family" -- the Blagojeviches' father was a Serbian immigrant -- "I can see how they're very clumsy. That's just how I viewed the Indians -- very awkward and clumsy and naïve in our political system. And I put Nayak at the top of the chart."

Niewoehner asks if Nayak was "naive" to believe that $6 million could sway the governor.

"He was naïve to think he could approach a guy like me and get it done," was Robert's answer.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Rod Blagojevich sits in the crowded courtroom after the lunch break, waiting for the judge to enter. As everyone talked and laughed, milling about, the ex-governor sits alone at the defense table, writing in a yellow notepad. He's digging in hard, biting his lower lip.

Judge James Zagel and the jury are now seated, and Robert Blagojevich is back on the stand.

Prosecutors move on to the important phone call of Dec. 4, 2008, when the governor asks his brother to set up a meeting with fund-raiser Raghu Nayak -- a move, the government will argue, toward accepting Nayak's $6 million offer in exchange for appointing Jesse Jackson Jr. to the Senate seat. It's a key call in the government's case against Robert.

Prosecutor Chris Niewoehner walks Robert through the transcript of the tape, paying close attention to a particular line.

"I can cut a better political deal with these Jacksons," the governor says on the tape. "And some of it can be tangible up front."

Yesterday, Robert testified that he didn't know what his brother meant by "tangible up front." Niewoehner seizes on this and asks Robert if he understands it now.

"You can split hairs," Robert says, sounding frustrated. "I do eventually accept the fact that he may be referring to fund-raising."

At another point on the tape, Robert tells his brother that, in light of a potential Jackson appointment, he should start thinking about new fund-raising possibilities.

"I don't know who the money centers are in the black community, but you need to get me focused on them or somebody focused on them," Robert tells the governor.

On the stand, Robert explained that he was always looking for new "universes" to fund-raise in, and if Jackson were appointed, "it would make sense to go prospecting" in the black community.

Niewoehner moves on to the key point of the tape -- the governor asking his brother to deliver a message to Nayak that Congressman Jackson had been "elevated" in the search for a replacement senator.

Robert: "He wanted me to pass on information that he thought would be well received by (Nayak).
Niewoehner: "And you were, in fact, the chairman of Friends of Blagojevich."
Robert said he was.
Niewoehner: "So this is an instance where, in terms of mixing government and fund-raising, this is now your brother asking the chief fundraiser to deliver a political message."
Robert: "I had no problem passing that message on."

It's very quiet inside the courtroom as witness and prosecutor trade barbs on this critical conversation. Jurors are looking on carefully; Rod Blagojevich is watching is brother testify, leaning his left elbow on the defense table.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Robert Blagojevich and prosecutor Chris Niewoehner are entrenched in a long back-and-forth over Robert's phone records on Dec. 4, 2008, the day of a key phone call between Rod and Robert about the Senate seat appointment.

Niewoehner is going over a list of attempted phone calls in harrowing detail. He puts up a chart that Robert's lawyer originally published that details all the calls made that day.

It's a long list. Robert tried to reach his brother over and over again, to no avail, sometimes more than once per minute. When that didn't work, he repeatedly tried to reach the governor's scheduler.

Robert gets irritated at the questioning. "I concede," he says repeatedly, as the prosecutor tries to get him to acknowledge each call one by one. "Let's not waste time."

Robert's lawyers originally showed jurors the list to show that Robert was annoyed -- and not thinking straight -- at a Starbucks, when Rod finally reached him and told him to elevate Jesse Jackson Jr.

But prosecutors are trying to show that Robert was, in fact, actively trying to get a hold of the ex-governor that day -- suggesting maybe he wasn't as distracted as he said when the two had that critical conversation about Jackson.

"If you're trying to make the point that I was dying to talk to my brother, that's not the case," Robert tells the prosecutor at one point.

As he introduced the exhibits showing the calls, Niewoehner read aloud Robert's phone number.

"Thank you for telling everyone my phone number," Robert snapped, looking down. That got a hearty laugh from the courtroom.

Judge James Zagel has called a lunch break. Court will resume at 1:30.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Rod Blagojevich laughs as his brother bristles at the prosecutor's questions. Prosecutor Chris Niewoehner continues to try to pin him down and Robert comes back with adamant, indignant responses.

At one point, Robert said he was happy to meet with a "billionaire cousin" of Indian community leader Raghu Nayak, but not for the potential donation.

"I was looking forward to meeting a fellow Republican," he said, not smiling. But the courtroom gallery laughed, as did Rod Blagojevich.

Robert Blagojevich testifies that he didn't take it seriously when Nayak offered to raise $6 million for his brother if the governor would appoint Jesse Jackson Jr. to the Senate.

"Raghu Nayak is a very nice man. And he's prone to exaggerate," Robert testifies, adding that he had no expectations of Nayak's "billionaire cousin."

Niewoehner asks Robert why, if he had no thoughts of entertaining that offer, he would talk about both fund-raising and the Senate seat appointment in the same conversation.

"You didn't take the opportunity to remind Nayak that these were two different things?" Niewoehner asks. Robert says he didn't think it was necessary.

Robert says again that as a fund-raiser, donors came to him with demands of the governor -- but he didn't seek them out.

"Unfortunately, government came to me. I didn't go to it. People came to me with issues," Robert testifies.

Niewoehner asks if, when Robert met with general counsel Bill Quinlan about fund-raising rules, he was instructed that he could blur the line between fund-raising and government if "government came to him."

"Let's be realistic," Robert says. "In the real world, you're out there fund-raising and people come to you and talk to you about government issues."

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

As a fund-raiser for his governor-brother, Robert Blagojevich often faced "outrageous" requests of people who wanted to buy favor with the government, he testifies.

One example of this was a fund-raising offer we've heard a lot about - an offer by an Indian community leader to raise $6 million if the governor would appoint Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. to Barack Obama's Senate seat.

Robert Blagojevich grows animated on the stand, saying these are the things he "had to deal with as a fund-raiser" -- but he didn't take them seriously.

The ex-governor's brother then launches into another example - it took place when he was invited to a meeting with a group of Greek restaurateurs who had said they wanted to hold a fund-raiser for the governor.

When Robert sat down with the group, they pulled out an architectural drawing of an access road they wanted built to improve traffic to their businesses, he testifies.

"It was egregious," Robert says. "I said, 'I don't do that. I can't help you with that. You have to go through IDOT.' And as a result, they canceled the fund-raiser."

"Were they as blatant as Freveletti was?" Niewoehner shot back, referring to a lawyer and Blago donor that Robert allegedly helped curry favor with the governor.

Robert Blagojevich: I wish John McCain would have won

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Robert Blagojevich testifies about a Nov. 1, 2008, phone call in which the governor pushes his fund-raising brother to see if he can line up a big contribution from Chicago businessman Blair Hull in exchange for a possible Senate seat appointment.

Blair Hull -- who had given nearly $500,000 to the governor's campaigns at this point -- had told Blago he was interested in the seat. Earlier in the trial, jurors heard Rod's response to Hull's request -- he calls him an "idiot."

On this portion of the tape, recorded three days before the 2008 presidential election, the governor asks his brother to try to get a $100,000 Hull contribution in the works.

Robert responds that he doesn't know Hull personally, and maybe it would be better for Lon Monk to make the ask.

"Lon just procrastinates, I don't know what the f--- he does," Rod Blagojevich says on tape. "But somebody should ask him for a hundred thousand."

Prosecutor Chris Niewoeher notes that this conversation took place before the election, and there was no guarantee Barack Obama was even going to win.

Niewoehner: "If John McCain would have won, your brother wouldn't have had an appointment to make, would he?"
Robert Blagojevich: "I wish that would have happened."

That prompted laughter in the courtroom. Robert Blagojevich -- incidentally, a lifelong Republican -- faces several charges of helping his brother try to personally benefit from appointing someone to that Senate seat.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Robert Blagojevich is pinned down on a recording where he's heard agreeing that money is a big factor in the decision of who to appoint to Barack Obama's Senate seat.

"There's context that's required here, your honor," Robert says, looking to Judge James Zagel for help.

Zagel turns to him and says, "You have a lawyer." Robert says OK.

Later, Robert answers questions about his pushing his brother to try to get a Cabinet position as head of Health and Human Services.

Robert Blagojevich makes no apologies about egging his brother on.

"I'd be proud," Robert Blagojevich said. "It would be a good fit. If he said he wanted to be Secretary of Defense, I'd laugh at him."

While the witness isn't laughing, the courtroom gallery did. At the defense table, his former governor brother smiles big, moving forward in his chair.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Robert Blagojevich testifies that when he asked Children's Memorial Hospital CEO Patrick Magoon to host a fund-raiser in fall 2008, it was not in exchange for pending government action that would have increased reimbursement rate for the hospital.

Instead, Magoon was merely a name on a list of prior contributors that Robert Blagojevich was trying to hit up for campaign cash, he testifies.

Robert said he was given the list of names by his predecessor at Friends of Blagojevich, and it contained only donor names and phone numbers -- no amounts.

"(Magoon), like many others, was a previous contributor," Robert Blagojevich testifies. Magoon said on the stand last week that he had given several $1,000 contributions to the governor. "To me, they were all the same, just names and numbers of people to call who were previous contributors."

"It wasn't your practice to go through the list and find people who had given at most $1,000 and then go ask them to hold a $25,000 fund-raiser?" prosecutor Chris Niewoehner asks. "Because it wouldn't make sense to suddenly ask people to give 25 times more than they'd given before, would it?"

Robert Blagojevich argues that asking someone to hold a fund-raiser is different than asking them directly for cash.

"I think that's a real difference," Robert testifies. "I didn't ask him for a contribution, I asked him to host a fund-raiser. If he wanted to."

Robert is accused of helping his brother try to shake down the hospital CEO for campaign cash in exchange for the governor approving a Medicaid reimbursement rate that meant millions of increased funding for the non-profit hospital.

Magoon testified for the government last week, saying he felt pressured and that the timing of Robert's request for a fund-raiser was all too coincidental -- especially when the governor had asked Magoon to temporarily keep the rate increase a secret.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Niewoehner questions Robert Blagojevich about his interactions with Anthony Freveletti, 0f the law firm Chapman and Cutler. Prosecutor Chris Niewoehner argues that Robert wanted Freveletti to host a fund-raiser and so interceded on behalf of his firm with his brother.

Niewoehner points to a transcript of a phone call in which Freveletti reminded Robert that his firm had been a "huge supporter" of the governor.

"No, that's a leap I will no way step into," Robert Blagojevich says this, taking off his glasses and smiling angrily.

Chris Niewoehner asks if Robert understood that Freveletti wanted one for the other.

"Yes," Robert Blagojevich answers. Pause. "And so do you," he says emphatically, lifting a hand toward Niewoehner.

Several seconds of silence goes by and Niewoehner appears paralyzed, just staring back at Robert Blagojevich.

"I apologize, that was out of line," Robert Blagojevich says.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

A larger-than-usual crowd of people and cameras gathered outside the Dirksen Federal Building this morning, the day when ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected to take the stand in his defense.

With cameras flashing, Rod and Patti walked into the building at 9:30, just moments before court was scheduled to begin. "Good morning," the ex-governor screamed at the crowd. "Something going on today?"

Someone yelled back, "Are you going on today?" Rod smiled.

Rod's brother, Robert, is now back on the stand, being cross-examined by prosecutor Chris Niewoehner. Robert comes under fire for blurring the line between fund-raising and politics -- a line that yesterday, Robert swore fervently to always uphold.

Niewoeher argues that Robert Blagojevich tried repeatedly to line up jobs for family members of people writing big checks for the governor. He points to the fact that on Nov. 8, 2008, Robert faxed the governor's chief of staff a resume for Jennifer Wu -- the niece of David Chang, a Korean community leader and Blago fund-raiser, and daughter of a $10,000 campaign donor.

Robert says he followed protocol -- but acknowledged that "sometimes (government and fund-raising) bleed over."

"Bill Quinlan told me when the line got blurred, to pass those issues on to him or (then Chief of Staff) John Harris," Robert said. "So when I was approached by Chang with a resume, that's what I did."

"But David Chang could have sent her resume to (Blago Chief of Staff) John Harris," Niewoehner said. "Jennifer Wu could have sent her resume to John Harris... That's what most people do, don't they? They put their resume into the human resource system ...They don't get their head start of getting their resume faxed to the chief of staff of the governor of Illinois."

Niewoehner then said that Chang wasn't the only fund-raiser who Robert Blagojevich tried helping. The former governor's brother responded, "You're about to tell me, who else?" putting one hand in the air.

The courtroom gallery laughed.

Blagojevich on secret tapes: Here are the tapes

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki

After Robert Blagojevich came off with a fairly pristine image in his direct questioning -- military service, volunteerism, a business built from the ground up -- prosecutor Chris Niewoehner came at Robert with a curve ball -- two allegations that haven't been discussed.

Niewoehner is trying to show Robert wasn't serious when he told jurors earlier today that he never mixed fund-raising with state action or traded action to benefit his brother.

The prosecutor did that by referring to two conversations: a Nov. 5, 2008 recording where Robert Blagojevich suggested to his brother that he ask Obama to quash his federal investigation; and to another discussion in December 2008 that Robert hit up former state Rep. Kurt Granberg for money at the same time he was up for a post to head the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Prosecutor Chris Niewoehner opens his cross-examination of Robert Blagojegich by asking the veteran whether he thought it would be fair if, while in the military, he quashed an investigation in exchange for getting a job.

The question clearly throws Robert Blagojevich, who asks the prosecutor to repeat it several times.

Niewoehner then turns to a Nov. 5, 2008 transcript.

"If you can get Obama to get (U.S. Attorney Patrick) Fitzgerald to close the case on you, it provides you total clarity," Robert says on that tape. He is heard urging his brother to "horse-trade" with Barack Obama to get the feds to stop investigating him.

Niewoehner: "That's what you wanted to have happen?"
Robert: "As a brother, of course I did."
Niewoehner asks if he wanted that in exchange for Rod appointing Valerie Jarrett to the Senate. Robert forcefully says no.
Niewoehner: "Barack Obama was just going to do that for nothing?"

The prosecutor then runs down a list of not-so-hypothetical hypothetical situations.

Niewoehner: "You know it'd be wrong for your brother to ask for cash for his family in exchange for some political action?"
Robert: "Yes."
Niewoehner: "You know it'd be wrong for your brother to take some governmental action in exchange for somebody else taking millions of dollars and putting it into some organization your brother controls?"
Robert: "If he directly agreed to that? Yes, that would be improper."
Niewoehner: "Whether it's a campaign contribution or cash, that doesn't matter, does it?"
Robert: "Not in my mind."

Niewoehner asks if Robert would think it was wrong if someone walked into a room with Rod Blagojevich, dropped a bag of $100,000 in cash and asked to be named senator.

"He'd tell the guy to pick up the money and walk out with it," Robert Blagojevich testifies.

Sitting at his defense table, Rod Blagojevich looked touched, gently smiling and nodding his head.

Judge James Zagel has adjourned court for the day. Cross-examination will resume at 9:30 tomorrow -- with Rod Blagojevich expected to take the stand later in the day.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Robert Blagojevich was distracted, annoyed, and just trying to enjoy a cup of coffee in a noisy Starbucks with his wife, who was recuperating from foot surgery, when federal investigators caught him on tape discussing the Senate seat appointment with his brother, Robert has testified.

The Dec. 4, 2008 tape -- in which Rod asks Robert to set up a meeting with fund-raiser Raghu Nayak about a potentially lucrative Jesse Jackson Jr. appointment -- is key to the government's case against Robert, who is charged with this scheme in the indictment.

But Robert testifies he was only half-paying attention and thoroughly annoyed since the two had talked numerous times that day and had also attended a fund-raiser.

"I was put out," Robert Blagojevich says of his brother's phone call. In the courtroom, Robert smiles. Rod is looking over at his brother, smiling too.

"I thought he was being rude. He knew I was with Julie," Robert says.

Attorney Michael Ettinger tries to point out that Robert sounded distracted on the tape.

"I'm meeting with him Monday," Rod says of Jesse Jackson Jr.
Robert: "Nice."
Rod is heard saying he has invited Jackson to an upcoming poverty conference.
Robert: "Nice."
Rod: "I'm trying to get a story run in the Sun-Times about how close we are."
Robert: "Nice, nice, nice."

Ettinger asks why Robert keeps saying "nice."

"I was trying to be polite and move the conversation along," Robert says.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Jurors are seeing a visual representation of how all-over-the-map Rod Blagojevich was in deciding who to appoint to Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat.

Defense attorney Michael Ettinger puts up a chart of various Senate seat candidates Rod Blagojevich was considering on Nov. 22, 2008.

There are six mug shots on the screen. A photo of Oprah Winfrey is at the center, along with the mayor's brother, Bill Daley, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, doctor and Obama pal Eric Whitaker, and others.

Then there are more charts. They show days of the week from Nov. 26 to Dec. 4, 2008 -- each with two to three different mug shots of candidates Blago was considering for the seat.

By Dec. 4, Jesse Jackson Jr. is back in contention.

"He was all over the place," Robert Blagojevich said.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Robert Blagojevich just testified that Raghu Nayak, the man who authorities said was an emissary to Jesse Jackson Jr., said he would raise $1 million for Blagojevich by the end of 2008.

Nayak then told Robert Blagojevich that $5 million more would be raised for the then-governor once Jackson was appointed senator, according to Robert's testimony.

These figures differ from what the government has previously said. In the past, they've charged the Blagojevich brothers believed that $1.5 million was on the line for a Jackson appointment.

The Chicago Sun-Times first disclosed the dollar amount discrepancies last year.

On another, barely audible tape, Robert Blagojevich is heard talking to Babu Patel, an Indian fund-raiser, about the Senate appointment. It's a new call, one that hasn't been played previously for jurors.

"Money is not going to be a factor here," Robert is heard saying. He says he wants to "make that clear."

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Over the break, Rod Blagojevich chats with his nephew, Alex. The two smile at times and the ex-governor even puts his arm around his nephew at one point.

It's a rare display of emotion between the two families. The brothers, Rod and Robert, don't lunch together and have not been seen talking to one another in court this entire trial.

Back on the stand, Robert Blagojevich recounts an Oct. 28, 2008, meeting with Indian community leader Rajinder Bedi in which there was discussion of "accelerated fund-raising" if Rod would appoint Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. to Barack Obama's Senate seat.

Robert met Bedi at a Ravenswood Starbucks to prepare for a Friends of Blagojevich campaign steering committee meeting, he testifies.

While there, Robert said, Bedi told him another Indian community leader, Raghu Nayak, would line up $1 million in fund-raising if Blago would appoint Jesse Jr.

Robert said he was "surprised" by the comment.

"I told him it was strongly unlikely, that Rod would never appoint him because he didn't trust him," Robert said. Then he steered the conversation back toward the steering committee, he said.

After the meeting, he testified, he told Rod what Bedi had said.

"He just totally dismissed it," Robert said. "We thought it was just a joke. It was outrageous."

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

In a second tape played by Robert Blagojevich's attorneys, Robert and Rod are heard discussing Senate seat possibilities. It's an extended version of a tape the prosecution played earlier in the trial.

Robert, discussing the Senate appointment on the tape, says to make sure it's "tit for tat."

"You give something, you don't give anything away," Robert tells Rod.

The two discuss a number of different Senate possibilities. Robert tells his brother he's down on the Madigans: "I wouldn't deal with the devil like that." He's down on Jesse Jackson Jr., too: "He's a f---ing articulate incompetent."

Robert then said he'd go with Gery Chico, that appointing Chico would be a real service to the state.

"If you want an opinion, that's my opinion," Robert says of Chico. "He's (got) f---ing true-blue qualities. He's got accomplishments."

But Rod Blagojevich disagrees. He said he's leaning toward his deputy governor, Louanner Peters.

After the tape is played, Robert looks up at the courtroom, puts his hands in the air and with a touch of anger to his Southern drawl, says, "if anyone was offended by the vulgarity, I apologize. I didn't expect anyone to hear me."

Attorney Michael Ettinger asks Robert about his statement to Rod on the tape that "the only advice I can give you about (the appointment) is brotherly advice."

"I'm not a paid adviser, I'm not a paid attorney," Robert explains from the stand. "I'm his brother, and I'm just talking to him off the cuff."

On the "tit for tat" comment, Robert says he was only commenting on a political give-and-take with Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.

"We had just attended a fund-raiser where he had gone at length talking about this deal he wanted to negotiate with the Madigans," Robert said. "The only thing I was advising him was if he did a deal, a political deal like that, then he should make sure he got some political benefit from doing it."

Robert then gets hit by a coughing fit taking a sip of water.

"Wrong pipe," he chokes out. He appears embarrassed and apologetic and asks the judge for five minutes. He repeatedly looked at his lawyer, coughing and holding up his hand, as if to say, "Sorry, can't do anything about it."

The judge agrees and calls a short recess.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

The defense has introduced its first tape -- a brief, maybe 20-second recording of Robert Blagojevich talking with his brother's general counsel, Bill Quinlan.

The tape got off to a rocky start. Someone pressed play on the wrong tape, leading defense attorney Michael Ettinger to yell, "Stop! Stop! stop!"

With the tape up and running, Robert is heard discussing the importance of keeping fund-raising and policy separate.

"One thing I've learned is you don't let the campaign guy do government," Quinlan tells Robert. "You just don't." Robert agrees.

Earlier, Ettinger asked Robert if he earned a salary while working for Friends of Blagojevich for four months in fall 2008. Robert said he did.

"And what did you do with 65 to 70 percent" of that salary, Ettinger asked?
"Gave it to charity," Robert said, earning an objection. The judge sustained.

Ettinger hen turns to another question: whether Robert was privy to conversations with Rod and his advisers about how to fill Barack Obama's Senate seat.

Ettinger: "Did you ever talk to any of his advisers -- Knapp, Yang, Scofield, Greenlee, so on -- about the Senate seat and what your brother was going to do?"
Robert: "No, I don't recall those."
Ettinger: "Did you have any input into (who he was going to pick)?"
Robert: "No."

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Returning from a lunch break, Judge James Zagel denied a motion for acquittal filed by the defense.

Defense attorney Lauren Kaeseberg argued the counts against the ex-governor have gone unproven. "At best, what the evidence shows is an attempt to attempt," she said.

Zagel responded that there has been sufficient evidence, particularly when taking into account not just the words on the transcripts, but the tone of voice of people speaking on the tapes.

The judge also responded to another defense theme -- that Blagojevich was working under the constant eye of lawyer-advisers while committing his alleged crimes. While this might be true, Zagel noted, it could just be proof that the lawyers themselves were in on the conspiracy.

The motion for acquittal argued that the government has failed to present enough evidence against the defendants and the trial should be thrown out. It's a fairly standard motion in trials -- but one that no one expected to make much headway here.

Court is now in a short recess, waiting for the jurors to be brought in. Robert Blagojevich will be back on the stand when we resume.



Rod Blagojevich attorney Sam Adam Jr. said today it was "highly unlikely" that the defense would call White House adviser Valerie Jarrett to the stand but she remains under subpoena and the defense hasn't completely closed the door on her.

Adam said he fully expects to call White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who has been under subpoena.

Rod Blagojevich, meanwhile, is expected to take the stand Tuesday.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Robert Blagojevich testifies that he did call Children's Memorial CEO Patrick Magoon to ask him to hold a fund-raiser in October 2008, but maintains it had nothing to do with his brother's actions to increasing Medicaid reimbursements for the hospital.

Attorney Michael Ettinger starts by rehashing an Oct. 9, 2008, voice mail that Robert left for former Blago fund-raiser John Wyma. On that tape, Robert is heard asking Wyma his plans for soliciting a contribution from Magoon.

"I know that you're going to be following up with Children's Memorial ... just wanted to know what the next steps are and kind of what we're trying to accomplish there," Ettinger reads Robert's words from the transcript.

Robert says he felt it was his duty to follow up with Wyma about the request, but said there was nothing underhanded about it. Ettinger then asks Robert about a later conversation he had directly with Magoon.

Ettinger: Were you told to seek the contribution in exchange for government action? Robert says no.
Ettinger: "Would you have done that?"
Robert: "Absolutely not."

Robert is emphatic with these responses. As the questions are asked, Robert leans back in his witness chair, shakes his head, and then leans into the microphone with emphasis: "No."

Robert says when he spoke to Magoon about holding a fund-raiser for his brother, the hospital CEO did not seem put off by the request.

Robert: "He said, 'Well, I typically don't do this, let me check with the board.' ... He seemed in no way reluctant ... no way pushed back against me."
Ettinger: "Did he ever tell you not to call him back?"
Robert: "Not one time."

Ettinger: "Did you ever tell him, 'My brother's been good by you, have a fundraiser?"
Robert: "No."
Ettinger: "Why were you asking him for a fund-raiser?"
Robert: "He was a previous contributor."

Magoon, who testified for the government last week, said he has made contributions to Rod Blagojevich in the past, generally $500 or $1,000 per year.

Judge James Zagel has called a lunch break. Court will resume at 1:15 p.m. for attorneys -- jurors are off until 1:45.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Robert Blagojevich said he was briefly present at a September 2008 meeting with road-building executive Gerry Krozel. But he said he did not hear any talk about trying to get a contribution from him in exchange for the governor's OK of an Illinois Tollway project.

"What I remember from that discussion was talking to him about his ill wife," Robert testifies. "I had been working in my fund-raising role for 40-something days, it was very new to me."

Ettinger: "Were you there for any requests from Lon Monk to Gerry Krozel to raise money?"
Robert: "I have no recollection of that, no."
Ettinger: "Were you there for the whole meeting?"
Robert: "Typically, meeting like that, I'm in and out."

Ettinger: "Other than that one meeting, did you ever see Gerry Krozel again?"
Robert: "No."
Ettinger: "Did you ever talk to Gerry Krozel again?"
Robert: "No."

Ettinger: "Did Gerry Krozel ever contribute a nickel?"
Robert: "Not to my knowledge, no."

Robert says he had Krozel marked down on his fund-raising lists with a likely contribution of "zero."

"It was just so vague as to whether there was any potential there or not," Robert says.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Friends of Blagojevich was not faring well when Robert Blagojevich came to Chicago to help with the governor's fund-raising in summer 2008, Robert testifies. Of a $2.5 million goal, the campaign had only reached the $700,000 mark.

The campaign got turned down often for contributions. "We got more 'no's than 'yes'es," Robert said.

Robert's attorney, Michael Ettinger, asks Robert if he was ever present for a political meeting at the Thompson Center or the governor's mansion in Springfield between Aug. 1, 2008 -- when he came to work for FOB -- and Dec. 9, 2008 -- the day of the arrests.

"No," Robert says. "I think (Rod) made it a deliberate point to keep it separate from that."

Ettinger asks if anyone ever asked Robert for his advice about politics.
"Nnnno," Robert said, smiling.
Ettinger: "As of Aug. 1, 2008, did you know very much about Illinois politics?"
Robert: "No."
Ettinger: "Did you ever think of running for office anywhere?"
Robert: "No," he said, snapping his head forward.

Ettinger ticks down the list of people who the ex-governor allegedly shook down for cash.

Ettinger: "Did you ever have a conversation about fund-raising with (racetrack owner) John Johnston?"
Robert: "No."
Ettinger: "(Road-building executive) Gerry Krozel?"
Robert: "No."
Ettinger: "(Chicago businessman) Blair Hull?"
Robert: "No."

Ettinger asks who typically would have these conversations, if not Robert. That was Lon Monk, Robert says, adding that he would just call Monk to check in.

"You're basically a score-keeper," Ettinger said.
"I'm a score-keeper, yes," Robert said.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Robert Blagojevich testifies that he returned to Chicago in the summer of 2008 to help out again with his brother's fund-raising.

Before getting started on Aug. 1, 2008, he said he met with Rod's general counsel, Bill Quinlan, to go over the rules of fund-raising. That meeting took place at the Friends of Blagojevich office.

Robert said the "bottom line," he was told, was to never condition a donation on governmental action, like a contract or vote.

"I was told never to tie the two and I never did," Robert Blagojevich said.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Robert Blagojevich testifies that he decided to start a real estate business after watching a late-night infomercial on a college hunting trip with his son.

It makes for a funny moment in the courtroom as Robert admits to getting suckered into paying $300 for a book/CD set about how to begin a business.

"He got me for the $300," Robert says to laughter.

Robert was working as CEO of a Tampa bank at the time, but decided to start buying apartment complexes for a career change. He now runs business out of Nashville, he said.

Rod is watching his brother without expression, his left elbow leaning on the defense table.

The testimony moves on to Robert's participation in his brother's campaign. Robert testifies that he came to Chicago in the summer of 2006 at Rod's request, and was in town through November, on and off, to help with his campaign.

"I thought it would be the right thing to do as his brother to come up and help him," Robert said.

During that time, Robert canvassed neighborhoods, put up signs, did robo-calling and fund-raised for Friends of Blagojevich, he said.

Ettinger asks who was running the campaign at that point; Robert says it was Lon Monk.
Ettinger asks how he had met Monk.

It must have been at Rod's wedding -- "whenever that was," Robert says sharply.

At that, Rod leans back in his chair and smiles, pointing index fingers of both hands toward his brother.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Robert Blagojevich, dressed in a dark suit and red and blue tie, took the stand a little while ago. At beginning of his testimony, he was asked if he had any siblings. "I have one brother. Rod," he said.

The words rang loudly in the courtroom, where his brother sat just feet away at the defense table, looking right at Robert with a slight smile on his face.

Robert's attorney, Michael Ettinger, asked with a smile whether there was a stipulation to identity.

"It's stipulated," said Judge James Zagel, also smiling.

We're going through Robert's history -- and resume -- quite closely. With at least one veteran on the jury, Ettinger is paying special attention to Robert's expansive military history.

Ettinger asks Robert about his political affiliation -- Republican, all his life -- and experience with fund-raising. He never did any, he said, until he started volunteering for the Red Cross.

Robert looks serious as he answers questions, doesn't smile much, if at all. He's giving the answers straight.

Ettinger is trying to draw contrasts with the brothers, showing that Robert Blagojevich earned a scholarship, served his country, was active in the Red Cross and was a self-made businessman. He didn't need Rod Blagojevich -- or the schemes he's accused of taking part in, the defense is trying to show the jury.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

When Rod Blagojevich walked into the courthouse this morning, he took off his belt for security. He held it while looking at the media from afar, pretending to hit someone with it: "if I'm bad," he said.

Upstairs in the courtroom, Julie Blagojevich, the wife of brother Robert Blagojevich, has just wrapped up her brief testimony as the defense's first witness.

Before taking the stand, Julie sat in the front row of the courtroom. Her son, Alex, sat next to her with a comforting arm around his mom.

In her testimony, Julie said her family and Rod and Patti were not close; they saw each other once a year and talked a few times a year. Rod asked Robert over the July 4, 2008 holiday if he'd help with his campaign.

Julie said she went out to dinner with Rod and Patti and asked about the swirling federal investigation.

"My impression ... To the best of their ability, to their knowledge, the federal investigation was behind them," she said.

Julie told Robert he could do it, but told him not to take a salary because of possible headlines.

"Did you need the money?" defense attorney Cheryl Schroeder asked.
"No," Julie said. "I felt like Rod did not know Rob. It was a chance for them to grow closer, perhaps."

Julie also set up the scene for Dec. 4, 2008 conversation -- one where her husband is accused of conspiring on the phone with his brother about appointing someone to Barack Obama's Senate seat.

Julie said they were at Starbucks. It was one of three times she had been out all winter because of foot surgery. She said the coffee shop was crowded, busy and noisy at the time.

The defense didn't get into the call with Julie. Robert Blagojevich is now on the stand answering biographical questions -- particularly about his schooling and his military history, all information that portrays him as an upstanding citizen.

Blagojevich trial: Day 25 and recap

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Monday recap:

Robert and Julie Blagojevich both take the stand as the first defense witnesses.
Robert Blagojevich tells of an approach by Jesse Jackson Jr. fund-raiser Raghu Nayak, who, according to Blagojevich, offered up $6 million in exchange for the congressman's appointment to the Senate seat. Robert Blagojevich said he shut down Nayak and a previous meeting by Rajinder Bedi who spoke of an offer of $1.5 million for Jackson's appointment. He describes his brother as someone who changed his mind often and sometimes nagged him.

Good for Robert Blagojevich: Jurors hear of Robert Blagojevich's lengthy resume, including a distinguished military career, volunteerism, donations to charities, and successful business dealings. His lawyer, Michael Ettinger, plays new recordings. In one, Blagojevich tells an Indian fund-raiser: "Money is not going to be a factor here," with respect to a Senate seat appointment. In another, he tells his brother to appoint a candidate to the Senate because of the good it would do for the state.

Good for prosecutors: Prosecutors wasted no time in tearing into Robert Blagojevich, questioning whether he really separated fund-raising and state action. They pointed to two phone calls. In one, Robert Blagojevich suggests to his brother that Barack Obama might quash an investigation into Rod Blagojevich. He testified he suggested that out of love for his brother and that it was a naive request. In another, Rod and Robert discuss Robert approaching a former state representative to ask for a campaign contribution. The state rep was up for a state job.

Up next:

1. Prosecutors continue to cross examine Robert Blagojevich.
2. Some brief witnesses, including possibly former budget director John Filan, will take the stand.
3. Rod Blagojevich then could take the stand as early as today.

Blagojevich trial: Day 24 -- THE DEFENSE BEGINS

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After six weeks of a prosecution case highlighted by dozens of recordings and nearly 30 witnesses, the defense case begins in Rod Blagojevich's trial today with the testimony of Robert Blagojevich and his wife.

Julie Blagojevich is expected to first take the stand this morning, followed by her husband, who worked as Rod Blagojevich's campaign finance chair from August 2008 until the former governor's Dec. 9th arrest. Their testimony is likely to take the entirety of the day and cross examination could move into Tuesday. (Read: "The Other Mrs. Blagojevich.")

Julie and Robert Blagojevich spoke exclusively with the Chicago Sun-Times last year where they described how Robert first decided to work for his brother, the relationship between the families and the impact the case has had on their lives.

"I am frustrated with the government because I believe he is being held hostage by them," Julie Blagojevich said of her husband. "I believe that they indicted Rob to get his brother to plead. ... "We knew about allegations, and we knew about investigations. Rod assured us that he was not doing anything wrong. We understood that the allegations were really behind him, the investigation was really behind him."

Julie Blagojevich is expected to testify about the intrusion of FBI recordings Robert Blagojevich's phone line ("It's just a horrifying, sick, sick feeling.") -- by her account, even when she or her son were on the phone and there was no reason for authorities to listen in. Robert Blagojevich has maintained his innocence, saying the government hijacked his life, dragging him into a criminal case even though he's done nothing wrong. He's charged in five counts.

Here's a primer on the two brothers, and their differences: Brothers Grim

No trial today -- lawyers to meet at 2 p.m.

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There is no trial again until Monday.

But lawyers in the case will meet today at 2 p.m. to discuss which recordings they will be able to play in their case, which will feature the testimony of Rod and Robert Blagojevich.

Jurors were told Tuesday they didn't have to return until next week.

Blagojevich on secret tapes: Here are the tapes

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Here are the audio tapes and exhibits from court today, Tuesday, July 13.
You can view old exhibits and watch videos of Rod Blagojevich being sworn in as governor -- also played in court today -- by clicking here.

transcript_10_09_2008_1036am.pdf

transcript_11_10_2008_1012am.pdf

oath_2003_signed.pdf

oath_2007_signed.pdf

ama_study.pdf

springfield_consulting_group.pdf

10_03_contract.pdf

10_08_08_fob_spreadsheet.pdf

magoon_email_1.pdf

magoon_email_2.pdf

magoon_message_1.pdf

magoon_message_2.pdf


Prosecutors in the case of Rod Blagojevich have rested their case against the former governor.

The move comes in the sixth week of trial. Judge James Zagel had set aside 17 weeks -- nearly three times the time -- for the case.

Zagel told jurors to return on Monday as the defense and prosecution work out some issues this week.

Defense: No express quid pro quo with hospital

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Reporting with Sarah Ostman

In cross examination, defense lawyers try to show that no one expressly told CEO Patrick Magoon that state money for Children's Memorial Hospital would only flow if he made a campaign contribution Rod Blagojevich..

Magoon was also a member of an Illinois Hospital Association PAC, which in the past had donated $500,000 to Rod Blagojevich, he admitted under questioning by Sam Adam Jr

Adam asked if it was true that it was only after Magoon headed the PAC that Blagojevich asked Magoon to hold a fund-raiser for him for the first time.
"It gives a raise to the doctors, is that true?" Magoon agreed.

"Once Robert Blagojevich (called) did you at least contact the governor and ask if he really meant one for the other?" Adam asked.
Magoon: "No."

Magoon testified that the hospital did eventually get its rate increase -- the following January.

Magoon admitted in cross examination by Robert Blagojevich's lawyer Michael Ettinger that the governor's brother never brought up the potential state money for the hospital in his phone call.

"He didn't threaten you to do anything, did he sir?" Ettinger asked.

"No," said Magoon.

Reporting with Sarah Ostman

Children's Memorial Hospital CEO Patrick Magoon said after dealing with Rod and Robert Blagojevich:

"I felt threatened, I felt at risk and I felt a little angry," he said. "I felt the commitment could be rescinded."

Magoon testified that Rod Blagojevich, who had the sole power to give Children's Memorial Hospital more money, called him Oct. 17, 2008, to say the state would give his hospital $10 million to help pay for pediatric doctors.

But then he told Magoon not to say anything public until after Jan. 1, 2009. That's when new ethics legislation would be in effect barring people who do business with the state from giving campaign donations.

Six days or so after the October phone call, Magoon got a call from Robert Blagojevich asking for $25,000 contribution for his brother.

"To receive a call within five or six days from his brother ... caused me great concern," Magoon said. "But what caused me the greatest concern was that the governor had the sole power," to release the money that would help pay for pediatric doctors who treat children at the hospital.

Magoon said he called the hospital lawyer and he instructed his staff to record every phone call with the Blagojeviches thereafter.

Magoon said as of Dec. 9 -- the day of the ex-governor's arrest -- he thought he would get the funding.

"Every day that went by was a concern that it would not occur," Magoon said.

Rod Blagojevich is accused of shaking down Magoon for the contribution in exchange for the funding.

Reporting with Sarah Ostman


It seems the prosecution is wrapping up its witnesses with a tug on the heartstrings.

The soft-spoken Patrick Magoon, the CEO of Children's Memorial Hospital, just took the stand as the prosecution's final witness.

Magoon, 57, has explained that his hospital is not for profit and doesn't turn away children who don't have the money to pay for their care.

"We try to care for kids irrespective of their ability to pay," Magoon testified.

Magoon sought more money to pay for pediatric specialists at the hospital, a concern he's had for years.

Magoon said he sent Blagojevich a hand-written letter asking for a boost in state funding.

It fell on deaf ears.

Magoon then called on former Cubs manager Dusty Baker to call Blagojevich, saying Baker had done it in the past.

Blagojevich then called Magoon, he said.

Reporting with Sarah Ostman


Just 15 minutes into the defense's cross examination of John Wyma, Judge James Zagel dismisses jurors to see where defense lawyer Sheldon Sorosky is headed with questioning.

Outside of the jury's presence, Sorosky says he believes Wyma was instructed by Tony Rezko to bribe a member of the Hospital Facilities Planning Board if Wyma wanted his client, Provena Hospital to have any success before the board.

"This was a crime in fact this man committed," Sorosky told Zagel.

Sorosky said he was served with a subpoena by the government in the fall of 2008 -- the same time that Rezko and another board member, Stuart Levine, were cooperating with the government.

"That is his motivation for cooperating with the government," Sorosky said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton said the accusation doesn't hold water.
"I think this is an outrageous allegation," she told Zagel.

Earlier in testimony, Wyma said he pulled in $1 million a year as an Illinois lobbyist.

"Other than being a friend of Gov. Blagojevich, will you tell me why these people paid you $1 million," Sorosky asked.

The government's objection was sustained.


Reporting with Natasha Korecki


When Valerie Jarrett was still in contention for the Senate seat in early November 2008, Rahm Emanuel called longtime Rod Blagojevich friend John Wyma.

Emanuel wanted Wyma to deliver a message to Blagojevich.

Wyma, a state lobbyist, just testified that Emanuel told him to call Blagojevich and express something on behalf of the President-Elect.

"He said the President-Elect would value and appreciate Valerie Jarrett in the Senate seat," Wyma said.

Wyma said he then tried to call Blagojevich at home but "missed him."
He then called Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris.

Wyma said he passed on Emanuel's message.
"I told him it would make sense to have Valerie as a pick," Wyma said.

Harris told him he would give the message "unabridged and unedited" to the then-governor.

The significance here is Wyma had been cooperating with the government for several weeks. He made a call on Emanuel's behalf at the time that the then-Governor was hoping to get something in return for the Senate seat. The week before that phone call, Blagojevich had expressed his interest in a cabinet position in exchange for the Senate seat.

While the prosecution played a recording of Robert Blagojevich's call to Wyma asking for funds from Children's Memorial Hospital, Wyma admitted to attorney Michael Ettinger that he didn't know whether Robert Blagojevich also knew that the hospital was at the same time seeking state monies.

Now Blagojevich's lawyer, Sheldon Sorosky is questioning Wyma: "You don't mind if I call you John, do you?

Wyma: "Do you mind if I call you Shelly?" He says to much laughter in the courtroom.

Sorosky: "Not at all."


Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Former Blago Chief of Staff and fund-raiser John Wyma testifies that he was "increasingly alarmed about the level of aggressiveness" of the governor's fund-raising in 2008.

"It made me uncomfortable," he testifies, adding that he "withdrew" from fund-raising activities.

Wyma had attended a meeting on Oct. 8, 2008, in which Blagojevich talked about "getting Magoon for 50" -- a reference to allegedly demanding $50,000 from Children's Memorial Hospital CEO Patrick Magoon in exchange for signing a bill that would increase that hospital's reimbursement rates from the state.

Magoon is expected to testify next, likely this afternoon.

Robert Blagojevich also takes a hit in Wyma's testimony about Children's Memorial -- jurors hear a tape of an Oct. 9 voicemail that Robert left for Wyma. Robert is asking Wyma what the plan is for following up with Magoon.

"I think they can do well by us," Robert Blagojevich said on the phone call.

Wyma then testified he was subpoenaed by federal investigators and under federal scrutiny. He then met with investigators and told them about allegations of shakedowns for contributions. They asked Wyma to wear a wire. Wyma said he refused.

"No, I did not feel I had a responsibility to go out and proactively record," Wyma said.

Wyma then said he attended an Oct. 22 fund-raising meeting with the former governor, Robert Blagojevich and Lon Monk. He said the government asked him to attend the meeting so as to not flag anything about the investigation.

Judge James Zagel has called a lunch break. We'll reconvene at 1:30.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

John Wyma testifies about an Oct. 6, 2008, meeting with Rod Blagojevich in which the governor said he planned to ask a road building executive for $500,000 before approving an Illinois Tollway construction project.

Blagojevich and Wyma had just met in the governor's office with construction magnate Michael Vondra, who wanted help with a business venture that would bring oil giant BP to Illinois. After the meeting, Wyma testified, Blago said he wanted to ask Vondra for a contribution.

"He said he liked Vondra a lot and wanted to get $100,000 from him by the end of the year," Wyma said. That's when new ethics legislation was scheduled to kick in, which would prohibit the governor from accepting cash from people who do business with the state.

Wyma said that was unrealistic, that Vondra had just done a fund-raiser and that $100,000 was too high, he testified.

Then the conversation turned to the tollway project.

"He said that he was going to announce shortly a $1.8 billion tollway plan and he had Lon Monk going out to (road building exec) Gerry Krozel to ask him for half a million dollars," Wyma said.

"And he could have made a larger announcement but he didn't because he wanted to see how folks performed. And if they didn't perform, f--- them."

Prosecutor Carrie Hamilton asks Wyma what he thought the governor meant by that.

That if "the folks in that particular trade sector did not raise the amount of money he wanted, he would not announce the expansion," Wyma said.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

John Wyma, Rod Blagojevich's former Congressional chief of staff, fund-raiser and friend, is testifying with a promise of immunity about fund-raising at Friends of Blagojevich in the ex-governor's first term.

Blagojevich, sitting at the defense table, stared at Wyma as he passed him on his way to the witness stand. The ex-governor visibly sighed when hit the stand.

Wyma -- a tanned, blond-haired man wearing a gray suit and pink and blue striped tie -- says he was one of Blagojevich's "central raisers." Fund-raising meetings were attended by the governor, Lon Monk and Chris Kelly, among others.

That point -- that Blagojevich was in the room for fund-raising meetings -- echoes testimony of previous witnesses and suggests that Blago lied to the FBI when he told them he put up a "firewall" between politics and fund-raising.

Wyma is now testifying about his participation in two areas that we've heard about before -- the state's Teacher's Retirement System and a grant for a school in then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel's district.

Regarding TRS, Wyma testifies that Chris Kelly told him in 2004 that if Wyma's clients wanted to do business with TRS, they had to make a $50,000 campaign contribution to Blagojevich.

Wyma said he didn't pass that on to his client, though -- "because I thought it was wrong, obviously wrong."

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

FBI agent Dan Cain has testified about an October 2003 contract showing that Patti Blagojevich's River Realty would receive a $12,000 monthly retainer from the company of convicted businessman Tony Rezko.

Jurors also watched a video of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich taking his oath of office in both 2003 and 2007. He's seen and heard swearing to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the state of Illinois.

Defense attorney Aaron Goldstein cross-examined, again invoking a recurring defense theme -- that Blagojevich was operating under guidance of his advisers and lawyers.

Goldstein: "It's your understanding that deputy governors, as well, take the oath of office?"
Cain said he wasn't sure.
Goldstein asked if Cain had subpoenaed the oath of office of former Deputy Gov. Bob Greenlee, who just left the stand. That got him an objection.

Goldstein also asked about Blago's legal fees.

Goldstein: "The bill was satisfied, is that fair to say?"
Cain said the bill was settled in July 2008.
Goldstein: "The money paid to Winston & Strawn -- that wasn't out of the state coffers, is that correct?"
Cain: "That was out of the campaign fund."

Cain has now left the stand and Judge Zagel has called a break. Next up will be John Wyma, former Congressional chief of staff and longtime friend to Blagojevich.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Judge James Zagel will allow the jury to hear testimony about the $1.2 million in legal fees that Rod Blagojevich had amassed while he was governor, during his investigation.

Prosecutors had to show that Blagojevich had mentioned the legal bills on the tapes. He did, they said, on Nov. 10, 2008.

"I still have to raise money for lawyers and all of that," the ex-governor said on tape.

With that, Zagel is allowing the fees in: "It's an issue of motive," he said.

Blagojevich put off paying his legal bills for more than a year, prosecutors said yesterday, eventually settling the bill for $750,000. That's because he didn't want to report the payments on campaign contribution statements, witnesses have testified, where such a financial hit would be seen as a political weakness.

FBI agent Daniel Cain is now on the stand.

Blagojevich trial: Day 23 and recap

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It's Rod Blagojevich's right to have a speedy trial, but his lawyers suddenly want to hit the brakes.

The defense team ended the day Monday saying they needed at least a week delay in the trial because the prosecution plans to rest this week, the sixth of the trial.
Judge James Zagel has said the trial could last up to 17 weeks.

The defense said its witnesses were told to be ready in August, based on the prosecution's schedule. Things went rapidly for the prosecution, in part because the defense questioning has been relatively brief. Prosecutors also are not calling baggage-heavy witnesses like Stuart Levine and Tony Rezko, who would have likely eaten up much time.

Up today:

1. FBI Agent Daniel Cain will take the stand and testify that Blagojevich had a more than $1.2 million legal bill in early 2008, months before prosecutors say he went on a corruption "crime spree."
2. John Wyma, former Congressional chief of staff to Blagojevich, longtime friend, state lobbyist and the man who served as the probable cause for the recordings in the case, is the next major witness.

Blagojevich trial: Today's exhibits

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Blago 7-12

Here is the one new exhibit introduced in court today, Monday, July 12.
To view past exhibits, click here.

2008_racetrack_legislation.pdf

Prosecutors want to air Blagojevich's legal bills

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Reporting with Sarah Ostman


The trial adjourned early today as lawyers battled over airing Rod Blagojevich's $1.2 million debt to Winston & Strawn law firm in spring of 2008.

Outside of the jury's presence, prosecutors, who were about to show the jury a chart detailing his legal bills, say it's relevant to reveal Blagojevich's need for cash in early 2008.

The firm sent a letter in March, 2008 saying they hadn't received payment in more than a year and that they were terminating their relationship with Blagojevich.

Defense lawyer Shelly Sorosky complained that detailing the bills was beyond prejudicial to Blagojevich. Sorosky said that out of 500 hours of recorded conversations, Blagojevich never said he needed money to pay lawyers. Sorosky said the evidence about Blagojevich's shopping habits (that he spent $400,000 on fine clothing) had a "touch of humor." But the legal bills did not.

"Not once in the taped conversation is there any, any reference to, Oh, I got to raise money to pay lawyers," Sorosky said.
He said the legal bill, which was negotiated down, was paid four months earlier.

(Prosecutor Reid Schar quibbled with that assertion.)

Judge James Zagel asked for more information in the morning but said, outstanding bills, "show a significant need for money in 2008 is really relevant," and was likely to allow the jury to hear only the final bill amount.

Finally, Zagel told the defense it has to "set forth precisely" its affirmative defense, that is, what they are going to say Blagojevich told a lawyer and what a lawyer said in response. The defense has said it will put on a case that says Blagojevich acted on the advice of counsel.

Zagel gave some examples, including:
"'I don't think they have anything on you, Rocky,' that's not advice of counsel."

Reporting with Sarah Ostman


As the testimony of Robert Greenlee wrapped up, the defense suffered another tough rebuke from the judge and the prosecution elicited more harsh words for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

In a rapid-fire redirect examination, prosecutor Reid Schar asked Greenlee whether he often took action on issues -- including researching state funding for a Children's Hospital -- before he got a nod from Blagojevich.

"If I had waited for approval from Gov. Blagojevich before I did anything with my job, the state would have ground to a halt," Greenlee said.

Blagojevich is leaning forward in his chair, staring right at Greenlee.

Schar's questions were in response to earlier questioning by defense lawyer Aaron Goldstein. Goldstein suggested that Greenlee was acting on his own when he promised funding to pediatrics -- Children's Memorial Hospital -- and that he acted on his own when he called off the funding.

Goldstein also suggested that Blagojevich had budgetary concerns when he called Greenlee in November 2008 and asked him if the funding could be held up for budgetary concerns.

"Mr. Greenlee, do you recall defendant Blagojevich coming to you ever ... with a single budgetary issue saying the state could not afford $4 million to $8 million?

"No, I don't recollect anything like that," Greenlee said.

Schar then pointed out that after Blagojevich asked about holding up funds to the Children's Hospital, he asked Greenlee to research a legislative package he could put together in exchange for appointing Lisa Madigan to the Senate seat. Blagojevich wanted an expanded health care, among other initiatives in exchange.

"At that time, when you put that list together, would it have cost billions of dollars to do the things defendant Blagojevich wanted you to do?" Schar asked.

"Billions, yes," Greenlee responded.

"Billions of dollars. In health care initiatives," Schar repeated.

Greenlee said in that case, Blagojevich never mentioned budgetary concerns.

Blagojevich is accused of holding up state money that would benefit Children's Memorial Hospital because the hospital CEO hadn't coughed up a campaign contribution.

On cross examination, Goldstein asked Greenlee a series of questions about whether he thought what he was doing with Blagojevich was illegal.

"You know it's a crime to commit bribery," Goldstein asked.

Judge James Zagel blocked the answer. Witnesses are not typically allowed to make legal conclusions unless they're deemed as experts.

"You can ask one more and then you can sit down," Zagel told him sternly.

"Can I ask one more then ask about a slightly different subject?" Goldstein tried.

"No, you can ask about a slightly different subject now," Zagel said.

It concluded with Greenlee, 35, admitting he was not charged with any crime.

Blagojevich judge to defense: you're wasting time

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Reporting with Sarah Ostman

Perhaps the possibility that Rod Blagojevich's defense could take the case as early as Wednesday is a bit daunting.

Could it be we're in full-fledged delay mode?

Blagojevich's former Deputy Gov. Robert Greenlee is being questioned about his words on tape, right down to the punctuation.

In front of jurors, Judge James Zagel told Blagojevich attorney Aaron Goldstein to move it along.

"It's repetitive...there's a rule against that," Zagel told him.

Goldstein then asked Greenlee a series of questions about what he knew regarding Blagojevich appointing Lisa Madigan to the Senate seat in exchange for an expansive legislative package getting through the grid-locked Legislature.

Again and again, Greenlee said he didn't know about specifics with that deal moving in early December. He said he didn't know that Rahm Emanuel offered to be an intermediary for Blagojevich if the deal were to move forward.

At the break, Goldstein explains to Zagel that he is trying to impeach Greenlee because he initially said he didn't know anything about the Madigan deal being a real thing that late in the game.

"You have a witness who doesn't know much," Zagel said flatly. "It's just become a waste of time. If you think you can get something out of this witness, call him in your case."


Reporting with Sarah Ostman

Defense lawyer Aaron Goldstein keeps hammering away at former Deputy Gov. Robert Greenlee that he never spoke up to tell the former governor he was acting improperly.

Goldstein is going through conversation after conversation, pointing to areas where Greenlee is heard on a recording agreeing with Rod Blagojevich or encouraging his ideas.

In one conversation, Greenlee, who's in his mid-30s, is asked about his response to Blagojevich in a taped phone call about the then-governor's wishes to ask the Barack Obama camp to help set up a foundation that Blagojevich would one day lead. The foundation was to be in exchange for Blagojevich appointing Valerie Jarrett to the U.S. Senate seat.

"Did you communicate your disagreement to having a foundation set up for the Senate seat?" Goldstein asked.

Greenlee doesn't get a chance to answer. But in the recording, Greenlee is not heard objecting.

Goldstein seems to be hinting that Greenlee was falling down on the job; rather than giving the governor advice, he says time again he was placating Blagojevich's musings.

"You were working for him, weren't you?" Goldstein asked.
"Absolutely, for the State of Illinois," Greenlee said. "For the people."

This is all a prelude to the affirmative defense case that lies ahead.

Blagojevich's lawyers have said their defense tactic will be to admit that the former governor was party to these conversations -- but he didn't think he did anything wrong because he was acting with the advice of his lawyers and advisers.


Reporting with Sarah Ostman

Judge James Zagel said he will hold a hearing on July 23rd to take up the issue of whether to release the names of jurors in the case.

Zagel had denied the request. But the U.S. Seventh Circuit court of Appeals put the issue back before him and said he had to hold a hearing.

One of the issues for Zagel, he said, is that he already promised jurors their identities would remain confidential until after they reached a verdict.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

On another tape, onetime Deputy Gov. Bob Greenlee was heard telling Rod Blagojevich that it would be "totally legitimate" to ask for an appointment for himself in exchange for appointing Barack Obama's friend to the Senate seat.

The word "legitimate" is now causing some debate.

Attorney Aaron Goldstein argues that the word means "lawful"; Greenlee says that's not what he meant at all. He meant "commensurate" or "appropriate," he said.

Goldstein: "Did you say commensurate?"
Greenlee: "No."
Goldstein: "Did you say appropriate?"
Greenlee: "No."
Goldstein: "You said legitimate."
Greenlee: "Yes sir. Those are my words."

Goldstein tries to hand the witness a dictionary, but he doesn't get very far.

"We don't use dictionaries," Zagel tells Goldstein, and the small, red Random House dictionary goes back to the defense table.

Goldstein continues to suggest that Blago was relying on the advice of his deputy attorney, and that advice wasn't proper.

Judge Zagel has called a lunch break. Court will reconvene at 1:45.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

When Rod Blagojevich took the advice of his deputy governor, Bob Greenlee, he was taking the advice of a highly educated attorney, the defense is suggesting.

Attorney Aaron Goldstein is running through Greenlee's schooling and legal experience. The list is impressive -- bachelors from Yale University, law degree from University of Chicago, clerking experience for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

This perusal of Greenlee's resume comes right after Goldstein finished pointing out several instances on the tapes where Greenlee "lied" to the governor, giving him advice that, he testified, he didn't actually believe in -- such as trying to get the Chicago Tribune editorial board axed.

It's part of the defense's contention that Blagojevich took actions, including those actions that got him arrested, with the advice of counsel -- or at least a Yale-educated, University of Chicago Law School grad.
View As Web Page

Goldstein's attempts to hit home on the attorney counseling is blatantly obvious. He goes through a discussion about trading a Senate seat appointment for a Cabinet spot, and describes chief of staff John Harris as "attorney Harris," noting no one raised objections during the talk.

At that, prosecutor Reid Schar smiles and shakes his head.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

It was onetime Deputy Gov. Bob Greenlee who first raised the idea of trying to get the Chicago Tribune's editorial board fired in response to negative editorials about the governor and in exchange for a deal that would help the Tribune Co. financially.

Defense attorney Aaron Goldstein questions Greenlee about a taped exchange from Nov. 3, 2008. Greenlee, Blago and Patti are talking about a Chicago Tribune editorial that called for the ex-governor's impeachment. It's also the infamous tape where Patti rants about the "f---ing Cubs."

Goldstein reads from a transcript of the tape where Greenlee suggests to Blago, "But I would tell him, 'Look, if you wanna get your Cubs thing done, get rid of this Tribune.'"

Goldstein: "Before you said that, no one was talking about getting rid of the Tribune. Correct?"
Greenlee: "Uh, no."
Goldstein: "Before this statement by you, there was a lot of anger being expressed about these editorial articles... but nothing about getting rid of the Tribune."

Greenlee acknowledges this is true.

"I don't think (there's) any threat of a real impeachment," Greenlee also tells Blago on the tape. "This would all be a political action."

Goldstein asks if that means that Greenlee didn't think Blago had done anything that actually warranted impeachment. The prosecution objects, and the judge sustains.

Goldstein: "Is it fair to say you were lying to him?"
Greenlee: "Insofar as I was telling him what he wanted to hear, yes."

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Jurors are looking at a transcript of a Nov. 12, 2008, conversation between Rod Blagojevich and Bob Greenlee while defense attorney Aaron Goldstein dissects the ex-governor's statements, word for word.

On the tape, Blago is asking his deputy governor about a proposed reimbursement rate increase for Children's Memorial Hospital. Blago asks Greenlee a question about the rate change: "Has that gone out yet, or is that still on hold?"

Goldstein: "There's something after the word 'hold.' What is that squiggly thing?"
Greenlee: "That is a question mark."
Goldstein: "Do you know what a question mark is?"

Prosecutor Reid Schar has been objecting consistently. He does it again, stands up and stays standing. "I'm just going to keep standing," he says to another lawyer.

Later, Goldstein asks Greenlee to define the word "could."

"'Could,'" you understood to mean 'possibility,' correct?" Goldstein asks. "'We could pull it back' means there's a possibility this could be pulled back?"

"I'm getting kind of lost," Greenlee responds.

The parsing of words continues: defining "no" vs. "know."

Schar keeps shooting up to object. Judge Zagel puts a hand to his face: "Sustained."

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Robert Blagojevich was not present for key conversations in which Rod Blagojevich and his advisers discussed a replacement for Barack Obama's Senate seat, his attorneys have argued.

When former Deputy Gov. Bob Greenlee put together a list of qualifications for that Senate appointment, Robert was not consulted, Greenlee said. Nor was he consulted on research regarding an ambassadorship or Cabinet appointment that the then-governor wanted in exchange for the appointment.

And Robert was not there when the governor's inner circle was debriefed about a meeting with union leader Tom Balanoff in which Blago requested a Cabinet seat, defense attorney Cheryl Schroeder noted.

Schroeder: "Again, Robert Blagojevich was not a part of this conversation, correct?"
Greenlee: "That is correct."
Schroeder: "No one called him during the meeting, correct?"
Greenlee: "That is correct."

Robert is facing five charges, all related to the Senate seat appointment.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Judge Zagel has shot down a request by the defense to delve into the working relationship between former Deputy Gov. Bob Greenlee and former general counsel Bill Quinlan.

Greenlee had done contract legal work for Quinlan. The defense wanted to elicit this and draw the conclusion that Quinlan must have blessed Greenlee's conversations with Blagojevich because he hired him.

But Zagel said no, saying the perception of universal competency of lawyers went out in the 1890s.

The prosecution is now questioning Greenlee about a 2008 bill affecting the state's horse racing industry. Blagojevich is accused of trying to shake down a racetrack owner in exchange for signing the bill, which was to bring thousands of dollars in subsidies to the industry each day.

Blagojevich trial: Day 22 and week five recap

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Week number five in Rod Blagojevich's trial featured another series of profanity-laced recordings.
Blagojevich gives his take on voters who gave him a 13 percent approval rating:
"F---- all of you."
His wife, Patti Blagojevich, is heard on a conference call urging advisers to "Hold up that f------ Cubs s---!" Blagojevich is also heard on tape being informed he's on tape: "Recordings of me?"
He says if Lisa Madigan and Jesse Jackson Jr. were both drowning "I'd save Jesse." Then describes Jackson this way: Click here

Up this week:
1. Blagojevich longtime friend and former Congressional chief of staff John Wyma is slotted to take the stand.
2. The judge will hold a hearing to discuss the release of jurors' names.
3. The prosecution will likely rest its case Tuesday.
4. The defense begins its case mid-week.


When you put aside the profanity-laced recordings, the $400,000 wardrobe and testimony that he was a no-show governor, much of the case remaining against Rod Blagojevich is a series of incomplete acts.

So as the prosecution's case against Blagojevich winds down to its final days this week, the question remains: Did Blagojevich commit crimes, or was it all just talk?

Read today's story: Click here


After five weeks of salty, f-bomb-laden secret recordings, prosecutors played a gem: Rod Blagojevich's take on Illinois voters.
"F--- all of you."
The revelations came through a secret recording and the testimony of Robert Greenlee, the Yale-educated former deputy governor under Blagojevich who testified that he was often dispatched to research job possibilities for Rod and Patti Blagojevich.
The morning of Election Day, Rod Blagojevich goes on a rant to Greenlee, referencing his 13 percent approval rating.
"I f------ busted my a-- and pissed people off and gave your grandmother a free f------ ride on a bus. OK? I gave your f------ baby a chance to have health care," Blagojevich is heard saying on tape. "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."

Read today's story: Click here.

Blagojevich on secret tapes: Here are the tapes

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After just five weeks of testimony, prosecutors in Rod Blagojevich's case say they'll rest their case on Tuesday.

The government's case was expected to last until August.

The defense asked if they could start their case the following week. Judge James Zagel said that was unlikely, but he might give them until Wednesday or Thursday to begin.

The trial has adjourned for the week and will pick back up on Monday.

Reporting with Sarah Ostman

The questioning of onetime Deputy Gov. Robert Greenlee moves to Children's Memorial Hospital. Blagojevich is accused of shaking down the hospital's CEO for a campaign contribution in exchange for authorizing state funding. When he didn't get his campaign contribution, he allegedly held up the funding.

Greenlee explained that in the fall of 2008, he met with the CEO of Children's Memorial Hospital and others to discuss state funding to help pay for a possible rate increase.

"As a result of that ... it would allow the hospital to provide more services to sick kids," Greenlee said. "One of our stated goals as an administration was to get health care to all children."

Rod Blagojevich then called Greenlee about the possible rate increase.
"I recall that he called me out of the blue and asked if I had talked about Children's Memorial Hospital about rate increases. I told him it would cost $8 million to $10 million."

Greenlee said it represented a tiny slice of the budget.
"When he said we should look into doing it, I understood: 'Get it moving."

Later, Blagojevich calls Greenlee again, on Nov. 12, 2008.
Blagojevich: "Pediatric doctors, the reimbursement. Has that gone out yet, or is that still on hold?"
Blagojevich also asked if the governor's office had total discretion over it.
Blagojevich: "So we can pull it back if we need to, budgetary concerns, right?"
Greenlee: "We sure could."
Blagojevich: "Ok, that's good to know."

Greenlee testified he took the conversation to mean he shouldn't set aside money for the hospital, so he made a call and held it up.

Greenlee said it was an unusual request.
"In the context of health care initiatives I never heard him use budget as a reason not to more forward," Greenlee said.

Prosecutor Reid Schar noted it remained that way as of Dec. 9, 2008 -- the day the governor was arrested.

Reporting with Sarah Ostman

The exceptionally long recording of Dec. 4, 2008 continues with Rod Blagojevich explaining to Deputy Gov. Robert Greenlee and his pollster Fred Yang that Jesse Jackson Jr. and Lisa Madigan were "equally repugnant" to him personally.

"If they were both drowning and I could only save one, I really think I'd save Jesse," Blagojevich is heard saying on tape. "From a personal standpoint, he's less repugnant to me than she is."

Later in the conversation, Greenlee suggested that Blagojevich just appease the Washington establishment and appoint Veteran Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth.

"Get the f--- out of here, Greenlee," Blagojevich said. "I'll f----ing fire you."

Greenlee recovers, saying he's just screwing around.

Prosecutor Reid Schar asks: "Were you just f-ing around?"
Greenlee: "No."

"I saw that he got worked up as he often did when I disagreed," Greenlee said.

"Did he just threaten to fire you, sir?" Schar asked.

"He did just threaten to fire me, yes."

Reporting with Sarah Ostman


Former Deputy Gov. Robert Greenlee is explaining a lengthy recording from Dec. 4, 2008 where Rod Blagojevich discusses possibly appointing Jesse Jackson Jr.

Rod Blagojevich: "Yeah, I wanted Lucio (Guerrero, press person) to give that to Fred, Rasmussen poll came out ...Jesse Jr. how about that, Great minds think alike."

Blagojevich said: "I was leaning in that direction ..." before seeing the results of the poll.

"I indicate if he appoints Jesse Jackson Jr., I will quit," Greenlee testifies.

Blagojevich responds that it's fine if he quits.

Prosecutor Reid Schar asked if it was a big deal for Greenlee to say something like that. "Yeah, it was the first time I suggested anything of that nature."

Greenlee explained that he understood that Jackson had gone around Blagojevich's wishes on more than one occasion.

"How can you tell him you'll give him the biggest prize in the world ..." after Jackson promised political support int he past but reneged, Greenlee said he asked.

That's when Blagojevich clarifies on the recording that he has a promise from Jackson supporters.

Blagojevich: "There's tangible, concrete, tangible stuff from supporters." ...
Well, you know, you know what I'm talking about ...Tangible, you know, specific amounts and everything, Fred."

Greenlee explains from the stand: "I understood that to be campaign contributions political in nature."

Reporting with Sarah Ostman


Jurors hear about Rod Blagojevich's Stanford-educated deputy governor's next assignment: look up job possibilities for Blagojevich's wife.

On a recording, Blagojevich wants to know how the wife of former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle landed a lucrative lobbying post and whether Patti Blagojevich can do the same.

Then-Deputy Gov. Robert Greenlee does some research and reports back.

"Spouses can lobby members of Congress, but they are not allowed to lobby their spouses themselves," Greenlee testified he explained to his then-boss, Blagojevich in the November, 2008 conversation.

"You shouldn't lobby your spouse's office other than that you can lobby the rest," Greenlee told him.

"What about doing that for a few years?" Blagojevich asks him. "Patti and I can move out to D.C."

Greenlee said Blagojevich asked him to do this as he considered appointing himself to the U.S. Senate seat.

"He talked a fair amount about appointing himself to the Senate," Greenlee said.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki


Deputy Gov. Robert Greenlee said that before Election Day, he worked out a deal with Barack Obama's campaign to invite Rod Blagojevich to his Election Day rally.

Greenlee said he "suggested" to Obama's people that Blagojevich wouldn't actually show.

That way, when the media asked, Blagojevich wouldn't have to say he was snubbed by the politician from his own state. But by not showing up, Obama wouldn't suffer the embarrassment of actually having the tarnished governor at his historic rally.

Then the plan changed. Blagojevich changed his mind, Greenlee said.

"That day, Election Day, Gov. Blagojevich decided he did want to attend the rally," Greenlee testified.

When they went to obtain credentials: "the Obama campaign raised red flags," Greenlee said.

Obama staffer Anita Dunn reached out to Blagojevich consultant Bill Knapp in an email entitled "WTF." Knapp, in turn, reached out to Greenlee.

Greenlee said the best he could do is suggest to Obama's people that
"I couldn't be sure he would show up."

Blagojevich did ultimately attend the historic rally.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Onetime Deputy Governor Robert Greenlee is testifying about a taped phone call between himself and Rod Blagojevich from Election Day 2008 -- a recording in which the then-Governor again has some choice words.

This time though, they're about the people of the state.

Blagojevich calls Greenlee to vent about a conversation he had had with former deputy governor Doug Scofield.

Scofield had told Blago he didn't think it was a good idea for the governor to appoint himself to the Senate seat, and a paranoid-sounding Blagojevich is angsting about Scofield's "ulterior motives."

Greenlee, who is working at a polling place in the suburbs at the time, tries to talk Blago down.

Greenlee: "Look, I don't think he had a motivation, I think he's just giving you his opinion."
Blagojevich: "Oh, he's got some. There's some motivation... there's something ... it's a subconscious thing."

Blagojevich says Scofield, a lobbyist, may be worried he would lose clients if Blagojevich were to move out of state government.

The governor, clearly on edge this Election Day, unleashes his frustrations toward the Illinois public.

"Now is the time to put my f------children and my wife first for a change," Blagojevich is heard saying. "I f------ busted my a-- ... I gave your f------ baby health care... What do I get for that? Only 13 percent of you think I'm doing a good job, so f--- all of you."

In the courtroom, Rod is looking down, reading transcripts. Patti, sitting in the first row, appears to be working on a piece of hard candy.

One African American male juror is wearing a giant grin.

Judge Zagel has called a lunch break. Court will reconvene at 1:30.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Prosecutors play the infamous Patti Blagojevich segment in which she's heard chiming in over Rod as her husband and Bob Greenlee discuss the Chicago Tribune's drum beat to impeach him.

Patti is heard referencing the Tribune Co.'s hope to get state help for a Cubs and Wrigley Field sale.

Patti: "Tell them to hold up that f-ing Cubs s---. F--- them. F--- them. What kind of bulls--- is that."

Later in the tape, Patti is heard going on about the editorial board:

Patti: "Just fire them... what would William Randolph Hearst do? Say, 'Oh, I can't interfere with my editorial board?'... They're hurting (the paper's) business."
Greenlee: "They've lost all impartiality. They're awful, just awful."

Later, Rod discusses going to Sam Zell and telling him to "fire those f----ers."

Before the call was played, Patti was told to leave the room. She did. As the tape plays inside the courtroom, Rod rubs his fingers over his lips, looks at the transcript seriously and at one point puts a hand on his face.

On an earlier tape, Blagojevich and Greenlee discuss the Chicago Tribune's editorials calling for the governor to be impeached. Meanwhile, sitting in the courtroom is editorial writer John McCormick.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

In the weeks leading up to the 2008 presidential election, Rod Blagojevich talked to Bob Greenlee about his options in naming a replacement for Barack Obama's Senate seat.

Greenlee goes down what has by now become a familiar list: Blagojevich talked about horse-trading to get himself an ambassadorship or a Health and Human Services cabinet position, considered naming Attorney General Lisa Madigan in exchange for political leeway with her father, House Speaker Mike Madigan, and talked about appointing himself to the seat.

During those discussions, Greenlee put together a list of criteria that the governor could use to determine a successor for the seat - interest in health care, senior citizens, concern for the "average Illinoisan" - but that list was never used. There was also discussion of creating a candidate search team, but it never happened.

"We determined the names of people to be on a search team, but those people were never contacted," he testified.

One list that perhaps got more wear was one Greenlee compiled of potential ambassadorships for the governor. Jurors see a list of possibilities: Italy, France, etc., along with Greenlee's notes that he put together from Wikipedia at the governor's request.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

During Bob Greenlee's time as deputy governor from June to December 2008, Rod Blagojevich rarely showed up at the governor's office -- he was there just 2-8 hours a week, Greenlee testified.

That meant most of their conversations took place over the phone, with Greenlee in the office and Blago at home or in the car, traveling to an event.

Getting Blagojevich to take action on bills was a challenge, Greenlee said. Often times -- with a bill's 60-day window coming to a close, meaning it would automatically become law without the governor's say-so -- Greenlee would have to track the governor down to review and veto.

He tried to "trap him" at events or in the car -- "where he had nothing else to do," he said.

But on one occasion, getting Blago to look over a stack of 20 pressing bills meant Greenlee had to tag along with the governor and his family when they went to dinner at Chicago's Southport Lanes.

In the courtroom, Rod hears this and smiles.

Occasionally Blagojevich hid from budget director John Filan, who often had bad news for the governor or wanted to discuss tough budgetary matters. In those cases, Blago would hide out in the bathroom at the back of his office, Greenlee testified.

At that, Blago leans back in his chair, grins and adjusts his suit coat.

Working for the governor was clearly a challenge, Greenlee said. Blagojevich had an "in or out" mentality with his staff and advisers.

"To the extent that you were out, he wouldn't want to communicate with you," Greenlee said. "I needed to communicate with him (for my job). I didn't feel I had that luxury."

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Rod Blagojevich stopped in front of a group of reporters on his way into the courtroom this morning.

"I said it before, I'll say it again. I'm innocent of all charges," he announced.

In the courtroom, former state worker and Friends of Blagojevich consultant Rajinder Bedi was on and off the stand quickly after a surprisingly short cross-examination by Aaron Goldstein.

Goldstein probed Bedi about a Dec. 6, 2008 fund-raiser for the Indian community for about 15 minutes before announcing he had no more questions.

At that point, Blagojevich stood up to whisper something to Goldstein. Everyone in the courtroom stopped and watched.

Former Deputy Gov. Robert Greenlee has just taken the stand.

Blagojevich trial: Day 21 and recap

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Prosecutors elicit a conversation that alleges U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was present at a meeting where campaign contributions were discussed in exchange for a Senate seat appointment. Rajinder Bedi, onetime state worker, described the Oct. 28, 2008 meeting with Jackson and fund-raiser Raghu Nayak.

Up today: Bedi undergoes questioning by defense lawyers today.
Onetime Deputy Governor Robert Greenlee is expected to be the next witness.

Blagojevich on secret tapes: Here are the tapes

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Reporting with Sarah Ostman

The prosecution is ramping up the Jesse Jackson Jr. portion of the case, playing a series of phone calls in early December where Rod Blagojevich is heard saying he's elevating Jackson as a Senate seat possibility because of a past promise of campaign cash in exchange for appointing Jackson.

Rod Blagojevich tells his brother to contact Raghu Nayak, a fund-raiser who had discussed raising money on Jackson's behalf, and tell Nayak he has to have something "tangible up front."

But then the Chicago Tribune published a report citing unnamed sources who revealed the feds were secretly recording Blagojevich. Prosecutors suggest that the article changed the then-governor's behavior.

Rod Blagojevich, in a panic, tells his brother to cancel the meeting with Nayak -- and he does.

Under cross examination by Robert Blagojevich's defense lawyer, Michael Ettinger, Bedi admits that on the day he met with Robert Blagojevich -- Oct. 28 -- it was Bedi who brought up fund-raising, Jackson and the Senate seat, not the ex-governor's brother.

Bedi was asked if Robert Blagojevich laughed off the suggestion at the Jackson appointment.

"He said it would never happen," Ettinger said of the conversation. "He killed it."

Bedi admitted he set up the meeting with Robert Blagojevich long before he agreed to meet with Jackson.

He also testified to a subsequent meeting with Robert Blagojevich at a Dec. 6 fund-raiser.

Bedi admitted to Ettinger that Robert Blagojevich did not bring up money in connection to the Senate seat then.

Blagojevich on tape: "F--- you, Harry Reid."

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Reporting with Sarah Ostman

Rod Blagojevich says to Robert Blagojevich, referring to Obama's camp in 2008, around the time the Senate seat was up for grabs:

"If I'm so f----ing repugnant to them, take Jesse Jackson Jr. F---- them... Why the f--- should I send them Lisa Madigan who gets zero percent from African-Americans, piss off my base, and I get nothing? F--- you, Harry Reid."

Previous testimony indicated that Reid, the U.S. Senate Majority Leader, had called Rod Blagojevich in late 2008, encouraging him against appointing Jackson.

Reporting with Sarah Ostman

Prosecutors are again playing recordings where Gov. Blagojevich speaks o his low opinion of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill).

"Jesse Jackson isn't emotionally stable ... He shouldn't even be a God---- Congressman. He's a f----ing articulate incompetent," Robert Blagojevich says on the recording.

On another recording, on Nov. 14, 2008, Robert Blagojevich says he received two faxes from Raghu Nayak representing Indian organizations purportedly behind Jackson's appointment.

In an earlier call, Rod Blagojevich said, "some lady called my house a little while ago about Jesse Jackson Jr."
Bob Greenlee: "I tell you, that guy is shameless."

Blagojevich: Jesse Jackson Jr. would raise "500 grand" and another guy would raise $1 million.
Greenlee: "You know, I'm not surprised by him at all."

Reporting with Sarah Ostman


When Rajinder Bedi returns to the stand, he testifies only that Jesse Jackson Jr. said he was interested in the Senate seat appointment during in an Oct. 28 meeting where Raghu Nayak was also present.

"Was there also a conversation about fund-raising?" Prosecutor Chrisopher Niewoehner asked.

"Yes there was," Bedi said.

Niewoehner then changes topics. Without jurors present, Niewoehner earlier said that Bedi would testify that Nayak said he could tell then Gov. Rod Blagojevich he'd raise $1 million in campaign cash for Jackson's appointment. Jackson was present at the meeting.

Bedi said he met with Robert Blagojevich, the governor's fund-raising chair at the time, later that same day at 2:30 p.m. at a Lincoln Square Starbucks.

Niewoehner: "Did you talk about Congressman Jackson?"

Bedi said yes. He relayed to Robert Blagojevich: "That congressman is very interested and Raghu Nayak is very close to the Congressman ... and Nayak (was) interested in Jackson getting appointed."

"I mentioned that Raghu Nayak could raise a lot of money and he's also interested in getting the congressman appointed ... Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr," Bedi said.

Robert Blagojevich's response, according to Bedi: "My brother will never appoint him to the Senate seat if President Obama wins the presidency."

"He said that Congress Jesse Jackson Jr. never endorsed him in his first election and
'I don't see that happening.'"

"He said Raghu Nayak can talk to the governor himself about the rest," Bedi said.


Reporting with Sarah Ostman

The judge calls for a recess just as Rajinder Bedi is about to finish the story about his Oct. 28, 2008 meeting with Jesse Jackson Jr.

Without the jury present, Prosecutor Christopher Niewoehner explains that Jackson, fund-raiser Raghu Nayak and Rajinder Bedi met at the 312 Restaurant in Chicago.

And that's when Nayak discusses raising $1 million for Blagojevich for Jackson's appointment.

Bedi had only gotten as far as to say he met with Jackson at the restaurant and Nayak showed up. Jackson started discussing Peotone Airport at length and the conversation changed.

The defense objected at this point and the judge called for a break.

Here's the explanation of what happened at the meeting by prosecutors:

Jackson shifts the conversation and says he's interested in becoming appointed senator, according to Niewoehner.

"The thing that's significant, Nayak says: 'I will raise $1 million for Blagojevich if he appoints you (Jackson) to the Senate seat," Niewoehner just told the judge with the jury out of the room. "That statement ... leads Bedi to mention that Nayak is interested in doing fund-raising for Blagojevich and he wants Jackson appointed."

Niewoehner said it's important to get in this meeting because it's critical to the prosecution's case.

"That's the heart of our case essentially, that they understand that's the offer on the table," Niewoehner says, referring to Rod and Robert Blagojevich and a recorded phone call.

Judge James Zagel is saying that he won't allow that part of the testimony in. Niewoehner can only ask Bedi about Jackson's interest in the Senate seat and that fund-raising was discussed.

But another interesting point: prosecutors say at one point, Nayak called Bedi
to tell him not to make an explicit quid pro quo offer because there may be a federal investigation underway.

Prosecutors showed jurors a giant photo of Jackson and Nayak.


Former state employee Rajinder Bedi, testifying under a grant of immunity, said he made hundreds of thousands of dollars in a sham scheme involving Raghuveer Nayak. Nayak was a prolific fund-raiser for both Jesse Jackson Jr. and Rod Blagojevich.

Prosecutor Chris Niewoehner: "Did you understand Nayak was cheating on his transactions based on these financial transactions?"
Bedi: "Yes."
Niewoehner: "Did you make money?"
Bedi "Yes."

He said he made hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Reporting with Sarah Ostman


Rod Blagojevich's bombastic lawyer Sam Adam Jr. spars entertainingly with businessman witness Sean Conlon, who is calmly making light of some of Adam's questions.

At one point, Adam showed Conlon the contract selling 1101 W. Lake, 4th floor from Tim Sullivan to Lake and Aberdeen LLC. and showed Tony Rezko listed as a cooperating officer and agent on the contract.

Conlon, born in England to Irish parents, responds with to Adam: "And do I own Lake and Aberdeen LLC?" Conlon asks earnestly.

"Don't you?" Adam asks.

Conlon: "Well I'm sure somebody can figure that one out."

That wins him a lot of laughs. He says he owns something like 150 LLCs.

Adam: "You're a big time businessman."
Conlon: "No I'm not"
Adam yells: "No, you're a big time businessman!"

Judge James Zagel stops Adam and reminded him about decorum with witnesses.

Later, Adam walked over to hand Conlon a piece of evidence.

Adam said to Conlon, sort of quietly: "I'll go back to the lectern,"

Conlon: "Good, because we'll have to get you a chair otherwise."

At one point, Adam asks Zagel to instruct the witness to answer only his questions.
Zagel won't do it, saying given the series of questions thrown at him, he was correct to answer the way he did.


Rajinder Bedi, the onetime $111,708-a-year managing director of the state's
Office of Trade & Investment under Rod Blagojevich -- who and had discussions about Jesse Jackson Jr.'s appointment to the U.S. Senate -- could take the stand in the ex-governor's corruption trial as early as this afternoon.

The Chicago Sun-Times previously reported that Bedi met with Rod Blagojevich's brother, Robert, in late October, 2008, to discuss fund-raising in connection with Jackson's appointment.

Federal prosecutors have alleged that Indian fund-raiser Raghuveer Nayak was an emissary who told the Blagojevich camp that Jackson would raise money in exchange for an appointment. Nayak is not expected to be called to the stand.

Reporting with Sarah Ostman

Real estate agent Sean Conlon just testified that Brian Hynes, a lawyer, lobbyist and onetime Tony Rezko business associate, made an unusual request of him.

Hynes wanted to buy two floors from Conlon's property at 1101 W. Lake Street. But after the contracts were already drawn up, Hynes called and asked that a broker be paid.

Conlon, a real estate agent, Irish immigrant and friend of Patrick Daley, Ald. Edward Burke, among others, testified he never dealt with a broker. He dealt only and directly with Hynes.

The chosen broker: Patti Blagojevich and her River Realty.

"He asked that I'd increase the price to take account the broker," Conlon said.
Prosecutor Carrie Hamilton: "Mr. Hynes proposed that?"

Conlon: "Yes."
Hamilton: "You agreed to that?"
Conlon: "I did, because it had no impact on me."

Conlon increased the prices of two floors of condos. One from $600,000 to $644,000 and another from $700,000 to $720,000.

Prosecutors have alleged that Rezko arranged for the phony brokerage fee from that sale to get diverted to Patti Blagojevich and she then used the money to pay contractors for renovations to the family's home.


Reporting with Natasha Korecki

When federal investigators came to Gerry Krozel's house in the early morning hours of Dec. 9, 2008 -- the day the governor was arrested -- he was "terrified" and lied to get them to leave his house, the road building executive has testified.

Krozel's cross-examination - growing fiery at times - has focused largely on discrepancies between his statements to investigators and his testimony today.

Blago attorney Aaron Goldstein presses an increasingly flustered Krozel on his testimony that he felt pressured to contribute to Blagojevich in connection to the Tollway project, noting that he told the FBI in December 2008 that he did not feel pressured.

Goldstein: "Mr. Krozel, you never felt pressure from Rod Blagojevich, did you."
Krozel: "I sure did."
Goldstein: "You never felt pressured by Lon Monk, did you."
Krozel: "Yes! ... When someone will ask you continuously about money, you feel pressure."
Goldstein: "You felt pressure, but you never felt there was a connection." ...
Krozel: "It was obvious."
Goldstein: "Did he ever say it?"
Krozel: "He never said it but it was obvious. ... Why would he have ever talked about fund-raising? He would have told me how happy I should be about the Tollway program."

Goldstein asks Krozel if he feels "pressure" now.
"I don't feel relaxed," he says, prompting laughter. "But I'm telling my story now."

Goldstein: "You are telling your story, but it's a different story than you told on Dec 9, 2008 ... You lied."
Krozel: "Yes."
Goldstein: "You're saying you lied to the FBI?"
Krozel: "Yes!"

Krozel exclaims that he was concerned for his wife, who for eight years has suffered from an illness: "She cannot talk, she cannot write, she loses her balance ... and I wanted to get the FBI out of my house and I told them that. I just wanted to get the FBI out of my house."

This is unlikely to affect Krozel, as he is testifying with a promise of immunity. He is now off the stand.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

In what is shaping up to be one of the more heated cross-examinations we've seen, Gerry Krozel is being grilled about his statements to federal investigators in 2008 and 2009.

Defense attorney Aaron Goldstein points out that nowhere in Krozel's grand jury statement did he say Rod Blagojevich told him the $6 billion Illinois Tollway project would be announced in January 2009.

Krozel: "When I left that office, I was under the impression it would be January of next year."
Goldstein: "You were under the impression, but Rod Blagojevich never told you."

Krozel, thinking back on his testimony, takes off his glasses, closes his eyes and puts his hand over his forehead.

Also missing from Krozel's interviews with investigators is his testimony that Blagojevich told him to keep plans for a $6 billion project a secret, Goldstein notes.

"This is the first time you told anyone that this was to be a secret," Goldstein said, referring to today's testimony. That got him an objection, and the judge sustained.

Krozel continues to seem put off by the questioning. He is having difficulty remembering.

"Would you please rephrase the question very slow," Krozel asks Goldstein at one point.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

First to cross-examine Krozel is Michael Ettinger, attorney for brother Robert Blagojevich.

Robert was present for a Sept. 18, 2008 meeting at the Friends of Blagojevich office with the ex-governor, Lon Monk and Gerry Krozel, when they asked the road building exec to fund-raise for them.

Ettinger is trying to make the point that Robert was only marginally involved in that meeting and didn't have any further contact with Krozel afterward.

But it's slow going. Krozel appears a bit unnerved, shifting in his chair, pulling his head back as if he doesn't understand questions. He's acting frustrated, asking Ettinger to rephrase questions, often replying that he doesn't remember.

Ettinger: "Did Robert Blagojevich, to the best of your recollection, say one word to you at that meeting?"
Krozel says that he thinks he did.
Ettinger "What he talked to you about was your wife's illness."
Krozel: "I don't remember that."

Ettinger: "Subsequent to this meeting on Sept. 18, 2008, you never talked to Robert Blagojevich again ... Never called you up ... Never asked how you were doing with fund-raising."
Krozel says that's true.

Ettinger also points to a December 2008 FBI interview when Krozel said he did not feel pressured to fund-raise for Blagojevich and never felt the Tollway project depended on his participation.

Road building executive Gerry Krozel is back on the stand this morning. He's testifying about allegations that Rod Blagojevich tried to shake him down in exchange for rolling out a $6 billion public works project that would benefit his ailing industry.

Jurors just heard a tape from Oct. 22, 2008. Blagojevich, sitting in a room with Lon Monk, calls Krozel on speaker phone to follow up on earlier talks about the road building exec fund-raising for the governor.

Blago on tape: "Lon is here with me, so we just thought we'd say hello. How are you doing? We've got this end-of-the year deadline. The rules change after Jan. 1."

Krozel explains from the stand that Blago is referring to a new ethics bill that would prevent him from raising cash from people doing business with the state.

Blago on tape: "The good news is, we're off and running. We've got something going and there's going to be more."

One week before, Blago had announced a smaller, $1.8 billion project for the Illinois Tollway. The "more," Krozel says from the stand, is the promise of a bigger, $6 billion project.

Blago on tape: "The good news for you guys is -- which is the bad news for us -- after the first of the year this level of ... you know ... we won't be able to bully you guys."

Blago is heard telling Krozel that he will get another call in a couple weeks to check on his fund-raising progress.

Krozel testifies that he had no intention of fund-raising for Blago, especially since his Illinois Road Builders Association had just been subpoenaed for their campaign contributions.

His colleagues were "very very apprehensive" and didn't want to give the governor money, Krozel testified. But he wanted the project to go through, so he kept taking the governor's calls.

"He was the governor," Krozel testified. "I was afraid it could be the end of the program."

Blagojevich trial: Day 20 and recap

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FBI Special Agent Patrick Murphy testified that Rod Blagojevich told him in 2005 that he kept a firewall between himself and fund-raising. But then two former campaign finance directors said Blagojevich took a central role in fund-raising, in fact, they said, in meetings he'd yell out: "bullsh---er!" in reference to donors who weren't pulling their weight.

Up Next: Gerry Krozel, who headed up Illinois' road builders, continues his testimony. He testified Tuesday that Blagojevich asked him for campaign contributions at the same time the then-governor promised billions of dollars in state-funded infrastructure.

Blagojevich trial: Today's exhibits

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Here are the exhibits presented in court today, Tuesday, July 6.
You can view past exhibits by clicking here.

1069_chestnut_form.pdf

1069_w_chestnut_contract.pdf

850_n_ogden_river_realty.pdf

fob_list_3.pdf

fob_list_4.pdf

fob_list_5.pdf

fob_list_6.pdf

Reporting with Sarah Ostman

It was Sept. 2008 when Rod Blagojevich summoned Gerry Krozel into his campaign finance office.

Blagojevich told Krozel, executive with Prairie Materials Sales Inc., former head of the Illinois Paving Association and also a representative to road builders, that he would push a $6 billion tollway program as well as a $1.5 billion infrastructure program.

Blagojevich then told Krozel about new ethics legislation that would prohibit top contributors to the governor from getting state work.

"Talk of the tollway and the request for money was very coincidental," testified Krozel, a 70-year-old Wilmette native who is testifying under a grant of immunity.

"How did you feel about defendant Blagojevich's request that you raise money?" asked Prosecutor Christopher Niewoehner.

"I understood that a fundraiser would probably determine the validity of the project," said Krozel. "The monies that I could possibly raise for him would have a bearing on the project."

Krozel said Blagojevich told him he wouldn't publicly announce the paving funding until the following January.

"I think he was waiting to see how much money I could bring in," Krozel said. Krozel said he believed Blagojevich wanted him to hit up those in the construction industry for campaign contributions.

Krozel said he didn't believe Blagojevich because he knew that the Legislature wasn't behind it because they said they had issues with the then-governor.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki


Jurors saw Rod Blagojevich's credit card statements last week and an IRS accounting of his expenses showed he spent $400,000 on high-end clothing.

Blagojevich didn't try tapping his campaign fund to pay for those custom suits, though.

Defense lawyer Michael Gillespie asked former Friends of Blagojevich campaign finance director Danielle Stilz if Rod Blagojevich ever told her: 'I just bought some suits, cover those?' "
"No," she said.

Stilz also testified that Blagojevich had a system in place where the campaign fund would do newspaper clip checks to see if donors had negative write-ups about them.

If anything negative written about that person, they'd send back the checks, she said.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Former campaign finance director Danielle Stilz continues her testimony about fund-raising with Rod Blagojevich.

Stilz testifies that Blagojevich would ask her for details about fund-raising before and after events.

"He would ask me how much money we were supposed to raise, how much money before the event. When I arrived at the event, I would let him know (how much) we had collected," she said.

That again, files in the face with what prosecutors say Blagojevich told them in a 2005 interview: that he stayed away from specifics with campaign fund-raising.

Stilz said she was told not to pay out legal bills from Winston & Strawn. She was to direct those bills to Blagojevich friend Lon Monk.

"What were you directed to do with bills from Winston & Strawn?" Prosecutor Carrie Hamilton asked.
Stilz: "To hold off from paying them. Not to pay them."
"We were not paying those bills because we did not want to reflect a high legal bill on the D-2s."
D-2s are the publicly-filed papers where politicians report their finances.

Stilz said she left in 2007 because she thought Rod Blagojevich's campaign fund-raising expectations were "unrealistic."

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Danielle Stilz, deputy finance director for Friends of Blagojevich from 2005 to 2007, is testifying about the ex-governor's involvement in campaign fund-raising.

Blagojevich was active in many aspects of fund-raising during Stilz's tenure, she said, taking part in strategy meetings, placing calls to prospective donors, etc.

Stilz is the second witness to say that Blago was involved in FOB's fund-raising -- and to suggest, then, that he lied to federal investigators when he claimed otherwise in 2005.

Stilz is also the second witness to bring up Blago's "bulls----er" remark. When she says that, Blagojevich again smiled and licked his bottom lip.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky asks Glynn if there was "some legitimate basis for Mr. Blagojevich to say what he said about these men?" The prosecution objects and Zagel sustains.

Glynn agrees Rod called them BS-ers because they didn't contribute what they should.

"There's nothing wrong about that, is there?" Sorosky asks, prompting another objection.

Sorosky points to a time when Blagojevich refused to call Jerry Reinsdorf, saying that's an indication that the ex-governor didn't get involved in fund-raising.

"No, he just didn't like to make calls," Glynn says with a bit of bitterness.

Sorosky jokingly suggests it was because Rod was a Cubs fan and Reinsdorf owned the White Sox.

"I don't know the reason," Glynn says calmly.

When Glynn gets off the stand, she looks a bit relieved. She whispers to someone with her, "That's Deb Mell," as Patti Blagojevich's sister walks out of the courtroom.

Glynn then notes aloud she was going to see "Pat" on the 4th floor of the courthouse. Her lawyer said she wouldn't be commenting when she left.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Rod Blagojevich had a special name for fund-raisers he thought weren't pulling their weight, Kelly Glynn has testified: "Bulls----ers!"

That shout would ring out during a series of fund-raising meetings that Blagojevich attended in 2004, she says.

"We would be going through a list of people who had made commitments or who had not made commitments and (Blagojevich) would sort of yell out, 'What about Niranjan Shah? What about Lou Susman?'" Glynn testifies. "'What are they doing, what are they doing?'"

When he thought someone wasn't doing enough, "the governor would chime out, "bulls----er!" Glynn shouts from the stand.

Glynn's delivery on the "bullsh-----" is especially comical because she looks exceptionally put together and straight-laced, her straight blond hair parted down the middle.

She then snaps "bullsh-----!" into the mic, barely moving her face, not smiling. One female juror laughs out loud. Rod actually grows red in the face, laughing, as well.

Prosecutor Reid Schar probes Glynn on who Blago pegged as a "bulls----er" ... and Blair Hull cops it again: "He said he was a bulls----er, as well," Glynn said.

The finance director's testimony obviously contradicts what Blagojevich told FBI agents -- he said there was a "firewall" between fund-raising and government.

Defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky is now cross-examining. When Sorosky approached to begin his cross, Glynn says, "Hi Shelly," without introduction.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Judge Zagel has called a one-hour lunch break.

Before he did, prosecutors called Kelly Glynn, finance director for Friends of Blagojevich from 2002 to 2004.

Glynn testified in the Tony Rezko trial about "bundlers" -- people who raise money for campaigns. Top fund-raisers for Blago in those years were Chris Kelly, Tony Rezko, John Wyma, Milan Petrovic and Paul Rosenfeld.

Setting the stage for more insight into Blago's obsession with campaign cash, prosecutors asked Glynn why it was so important to show high fund-raising numbers on public quarterly reports.

"It's similar to, 'I have the most friends in the classroom,'" Glynn said. "'I'm the presumed winner.'"

Court will reconvene at 1:30.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

FBI agent Patrick Murphy testified earlier that the cooperation of Joseph Cari -- who signed a plea deal with prosecutors -- helped spur the investigation of Rod Blagojevich and a May 2005 interview with the ex-governor.

Defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. now seizes on this topic, questioning Murphy about Cari's testimony to the FBI.

Cari spoke to federal agents on five or so occasions before the ex-governor was interviewed, Adam notes; in several of those talks, Cari failed to mention the much-publicized plane ride on which the ex-governor allegedly tried to wrangle the fund-raiser's help on his campaign.

Adam pushes Murphy for specifics on the FBI's 2005 interview with Blagojevich, questioning the agent's interpretations of what the then-governor said.

"When you were sitting there with Gov. Blagojevich, did you show him one state contract that was connected to fund-raising?" Adam asks. He get no answer. Prosecutors object and Judge Zagel sustains.

Adam also brings up that Blagojevich did tell investigators that he did have some incidental knowledge of fund-raising, which he picked up just by attending fund-raising events.

During the exchange, Adam becomes increasingly animated, using his hands, gesturing, pacing.

Zagel remains unamused, sustaining a prosecution objection at one point while leaning his face on his head, saying lazily: "asked and answered."

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

The prosecution has called FBI supervising agent Patrick Murphy, who is interviewing about statements Rod Blagojevich made in an FBI interview in March 2005.

The FBI was investigating claims that Blagojevich was engaging in pay-to-play politics, linking campaign contributions to state jobs, contracts and board appointments, Murphy said.

As Murphy said this, Rod stared down at his notebook, not looking up at all.

During that 2005 interview, held in the offices of Winston & Strawn, Blagojevich said he maintained a separation between politics and fund-raising.

"He said he did not track who was contributing to him or how much they were contributing," Murphy said. "This was a decision he made when he became governor," he said Blagojevich told him.

But the ex-governor also equated politics with fund-raising in one key statement, Murphy testified: Blagojevich told him he put a firewall between politics and government. Murphy asked Blago what he meant by "politics" and Blago told him "fund-raising."

Murphy, who is lauded as the investigative architect of the case, is testifying to the false statement charges in the indictment. Blago is charged with lying to the FBI about material matters in the investigation.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

With two brief witnesses, prosecutors are continuing to suggest more shady dealings between Patti Blagojevich and Tony Rezko's Rezmar Corp.

First, real estate agent Marianne Piazzi, and now FBI Special Agent Jane Ferguson, are testifying on the sales of properties owned by a Rezmar company.

They testify that Patti's real estate company, River Realty, accepted cash from Rezko without doing any work.

For the sale of a property at 1069 W. Chestnut, River Realty got more than $14,000, documents show.

In his cross-examination, defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. questioned Ferguson's knowledge of the River Realty documents, suggesting she doesn't know how old the documents are or who created them.

FBI agent who oversaw wire tap operation retires

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FBI supervisor Pete Cullen, the agent who oversaw the wire tapping operation for the Blagojevich investigation, retired last week.

He was the most senior agent in the country and headed up one of the most expansive public corruption wiretaps in city history.

And on Dec. 9, 2008, it was Cullen who kept watch over a recently arrested Blagojevich.

"He was in his running suit. He was stretching, running in place, animated. I couldn't believe it. He couldn't sit still," Cullen said. "He kept combing back his hair."

"It was almost like he's awaiting going on camera," he said.

To read the story, click here.

Defense: Patti's work for Rezmar was legitimate

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Defense attorney Michael Gillespie is questioning Winter on his knowledge of a business arrangement between Patti Blagojevich and convicted businessman Tony Rezko.

Gillespie: "You are not the person who negotiated the working agreement with Mrs. Blagojevich?"
Winter: "No."
Gillespie: "You have absolutely no idea about the underlying terms of that working agreement?"
Winter: "No."

Testimony last week stated that Patti pocketed a $12,000 retainer from Rezko's development company each month for doing virtually no work, and also received other checks and home repairs.

Patti could have been performing legitimate services for the company, Gillespie is arguing.

Winter is now off the stand. The government has called real estate agent Marianne Piazzi.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

This Tuesday morning began with an announcement that Juror No. 115 -- a white woman -- has been dismissed because of a "critical illness" of a parent, Judge James Zagel said.

Michael Winter, a consultant for Tony Rezko's Rezmar Corp., is now back on the stand for his cross-examination.

Earlier, on his way into court, Rod Blagojevich passed a group of reporters. "How's the suit?" he asked.

He was referencing testimony from last week where an agent testified he spent $400,000 on fine clothing, suits, shoes, ties and even underwear.

Blagojevich trial: Day 19 and last week's recap

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Last week ended with a new revelation about the Blagojevich family: a $400,000 bill on high-end suits, designer ties, furs, shoes and even fancy underwear. The family spent more on fine clothing than on its mortgage, child care or tuition in the years Rod Blagojevich served as governor, according to testimony.
As the fourth full week of trial concluded, prosecutors revealed they may wrap up its case next week -- much sooner than they had anticipated.

Meanwhile, jurors heard Blagojevich unleash jealousy and hatred against President Obama, they heard the infamous "f------ golden" recording, and heard testimony that Blagojevich referred to Alexi Giannoulias as a "mother f-----."

Some explosive testimony from union leader Tom Balanoff indicated that Barack Obama called him one day before the 2008 presidential election to give him the green light on Valerie Jarrett for the Senate seat.

Two witnesses testified that Patti Blagojevich was paid by Tony Rezko's Rezmar for doing no work.

Up today:
1. Michael Winter, a Rezmar consultant, continues his testimony.
2. This week prosecutors are expected to put on Indian supporters to Rod Blagojevich who will testify about the ex-governor's alleged desire to extract a $1.5 million campaign donation from Jesse Jackson Jr. in exchange for a Senate seat appointment.


In November 2008, Rod Blagojevich was plotting for a new job with his advisers, loudly complaining he was desperate for cash.
"Amy is going to college in six years, and we can't afford it," Blagojevich screamed on the Nov. 10 call. "I feel like I'm f------ my children."
The Blagojevich household spent more on fine clothing than on their mortgage, childcare, travel or private schools in the years that Blagojevich served as governor, according to trial testimony.
According to credit card records presented Thursday in Blagojevich's federal corruption trial, the spree was just a drop in the bucket of the more than $400,000 the Northwest Side Democrat spent on fine clothing, ties, footwear and even underwear in his tenure as governor.

Read today's story: Blagojevich's $400,000 shopping spree

Reporting with Sarah Ostman


As we reported a couple of hours ago, prosecutors are close to resting their case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar, noting the trial has moved at an extraordinary pace, just told Judge James Zagel they could rest their case the week after next.

"We are in the process of selecting our final witnesses," Schar said.

Reporting with Sarah Ostman

Through its latest witness, prosecutors are following the money trail from Tony Rezko to pay for contractors who worked on a major Blagojevich home renovation.

Prosecution witness Robert Williams, Rezmar Chief Financial Office, read off the list of contractors who did work on the Blagojevich family's Ravenswood Manor home.

The main contractor and the subcontractors all were companies tied to Rezko.

The total amount to be paid to the various subcontractors at that time in January of 2004: $39,966.68.

Williams previously said Rezko asked him to pay $40,000 to Patti Blagojevich during the same time frame. Though the money purported to be commission for the sale of a condo unit, Williams said he wasn't aware of any work Patti Blagojevich did to earn the commission.


Reporting with Sarah Ostman

A government witness has testified that businessman Tony Rezko asked him to cut checks to the former governor's wife even though she hadn't done work for it.

Robert Williams, former chief financial officer of Rezko's Rezmar company said
she was paid $12,000 a month and it was recorded in Rezmar books as consulting.

Prosecutor Carrie Hamilton asked if Williams was aware of any consulting work Patti Blagojevich did.

Williams: "I was not."

Williams is testifying under a grant of immunity.

Williams said he'd occasionally see Patti in the offices.

"She had her children with her," he said and she usually just talked to Rezko.

"Mr. Rezko informed me we wouldn't be writing any more checks after that May, 2004 check," he said.

In January, 2004: Williams is testifying that Rezko gave him a check from Chicago Title and Trust for $40,000. Williams said Rezko told him to deposit it and then cut a check to Patti Blagojevich's River Realty company in the amount of $40,000.

Before that testimony, Williams spoke of another, $15,000 check that Rezko asked be cut for Patti Blagojevich.

In August 2003, Rezko asked Williams to figure out how they could give River Realty a check for around $15,000. Williams realized they'd recently closed on a deal (850 N Ogden LLC project) and if he tacked on a fake 2.5 percent fee on, it would make up the needed figure.

Hamilton asked Williams if he thought Patti Blagojevich had done any work for that money.

The answer was no.


Reporting with Sarah Ostman

In an expletive-laden conference call, Rod Blagojevich is heard calling President-Elect Barack Obama a "mother f-----"

"You guys are telling me... Give this mother f-er his senator. F- him! For nothing? F- him!" an angry Blagojevich snaps.

On the call is Patti Blagojevich, lawyer Bill Quinlan and adviser Bill Knapp.

The former governor's advisers tell him if he appoints himself senator he will be "a national joke."

Blagojevich asks about corporate boards for Patti Blagojevich and ambassadorships, among other possible personal perks.

Blagojevich is told he should look at: "what can Obama do that at the end of two years makes you better able to make a living?"

Blagojevich: "We're struggling now!"

And then he goes berserk:

Blagojevich: "We're stuck... This world is passing me by and I'm stuck in this job as governor. I'm stuck."

"I should've looked the other f-ing way on the landfill." And complains that now his father-in-law Ald. Dick Mell is making money on that.



Government prosecutors have on a couple of occasions said they're ahead of schedule in their case against the former governor of Illinois.

Now, the Chicago Sun-Times has just learned that prosecutors may rest its case against Rod Blagojevich the week after next.

Judge James Zagel had set aside 15-17 weeks for the trial.
The trial is only now in its fourth full week and the government is already moving on from the bulkiest part of its case -- testimony about the U.S. Senate seat.
While there's expected to be additional testimony in that regard, including about a $1.5 million promise of a contribution in exchange for a Jesse Jackson Jr. appointment, numerous key recordings were already played about the Senate seat.

Government witnesses have taken the stand and delivered explosive testimony at a quick clip. Key witnesses -- including former chief of staff John Harris and lobbyist Lon Monk were on and off the stand in a matter of a few days.

By contrast, Stuart Levine, the chief witness in the trial of businessman Tony Rezko, was on the witness stand in that trial for parts of 15 days.

We are already in day 17 of the Blagojevich trial -- including jury selection.

The defense team's cross examinations, for the most part, have been relatively brief. Their objections have been relatively sparse compared to other corruption trials. Absent is the grind-to-a-halt tactic typical of defense strategy in federal court.

Defense lawyers have complained that Zagel has blocked cross examination of witnesses by telling them they're not asking questions the right way or that they're outside the scope of direct testimony.

And the defense team has said its unconventional. It wants to play many of its own recordings and both defendants have vowed to take the witness stand.

They filed three motions for a mistrial on Wednesday alone. In one, they complained Zagel made inappropriate remarks to lawyers in front of jurors.

Reporting with Sarah Ostman

Rod Blagojevich spent more on high-end, tailored clothing, fancy ties, shoes and even underwear, than he did on anything else -- including his mortgage, child care and private school tuition.

That is all according to an IRS agent -- numbers guru Shari Schindler -- who was tasked with crunching the numbers from the Blagojevich family 2002-2008.

Here's just some examples of credit card purchases, according to the government.

Jan. 16, 06: $179 basket weave tie.
Jan. 17, 06: $195 another high-end tie.
Jan. 2006: Oxxford custom clothing: $7,781
May 25, 06: ties, $664 at Saks
May 26, 06: $2,973 on Geneva Custom Shirts
Nov.06: $406 Allen Edmonds shoes
Nov. 06: $600-plus on ties, Saks

Jan. 2007: $200-plus on ties
Geneva Custom shirts $1,977

Late January 08: $13,758 on Tom Jones/Oxxford clothing
Jan. 5: Saks ties $200
Feb 9: Saks ties $201
Feb 15: Saks ties $188
Nieman Marcus $594

Fall of 08: $219.99 ties
Hanro underwear $63
Sept. 08: Geneva Custom shirts $1,400-plus
Tom Jones/Oxxford $5,000

The expenditures go on and on...


Reporting with Natasha Korecki

IRS agent Shari Schindler is showing a breakdown of the Blagojevich family's expenditures between January 2002 and Dec. 9, 2008, the date Rod was arrested.

She has 10 categories of expenses, ranging from mortgages to travel to groceries to private school tuition for Blago's two daughters.

But the Blagojevich family spent the most on clothing -- more than $400,000 in that six-year period.

Most was for adult clothes, Schindler said.

Of the top 15 payees from 2002 to 2008, four were clothing-related, including more than $205,000 in spending at Tom James Clothing/Oxxford -- a custom clothing, custom suit maker.

It's the second biggest individual payee on the list, only below their mortgage company.

Saks Fifth Avenue, Geneva Custom Shirts and Neiman Marcus also make the top 15.

Jurors are seeing list after list of the Blagojevich's purchases: $744 on shoes at Neiman Marcus, $214 on ties at Saks, $575 for underwear and ties, also at Saks -- all on the same day, Sept. 12, 2008.

Many purchases of similar items are just days apart. Lists show thousands of dollars of spending on running shoes and ties.

In the courtroom, everyone now appears to be checking out Rod's tie -- it's light blue with a dark design.

It's not the first time he's worn it. Rod's repeated his ties -- a lot -- during the trial.

Judge James Zagel has called a lunch break -- court will start back up around 1:30.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Next on the stand is someone we've seen before -- IRS agent and numbers cruncher Shari Shindler.

With charts and graphs, she's explaining a flow of money from Tony Rezko's Rezmar Corp. to Patti Blagojevich's firm, River Realty.

Prosecutors noted that nowhere on the Blagojevich family's tax returns -- which were publicly released while Rod was governor -- is there any indication that Rezko money went to Patti.

The Blagojeviches' income peaked in 2004 at $392,392. By 2008 -- the year we hear recordings of Blagojevich angsting about his cash flow -- it's down to $226,795.

Patti has left the room for this witness, as she always does when she's the subject of testimony.

Doug Scofield: "I gave full and honest answers"

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Scofield

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Doug Scofield spoke briefly downstairs when he was finished on the stand, but wouldn't take questions.

"I was happy to testify for the prosecution in this case," he told reporters. "I feel like I answered every question and I gave full and honest answers."

Then, when he was told cameras would follow him outside: "No one's going to knock me over?"

The reference, of course, was to government witness Joe Cari, who took a highly-publicized tumble outside the courthouse a couple weeks ago.

In his cross-examination, Sam Adam Jr. questions state ethics training director David Keahl on who is charged with ethics oversight in the Governor's Office. The answer is that office's ethics officer -- in 2003 through 2006, general counsel Bill Quinlan.

"One of the things you brought up today that if you have any questions regarding if something is legal or not, you go and ask questions of the ethics officer. Is that true?" Adam asks. Keahl says yes.

The prosecution is repeatedly objecting to Adam's questioning, which continues to focus on Quinlan. Adam keeps responding in an extremely deferential tone: "Yes, your Honor, yes, your Honor."

With that, Keahl is off the stand.

A state of Illinois ethics officer has taken the stand and is explaining state ethics laws and training required of state officials.

David Keahl, director of ethics training and compliance for the state's Office of the Executive Inspector General, testifies that state officials are required to complete ethics training once a year.

It's an online computer program with about 100 screens on ethics laws, like what political activities are banned, what gifts are prohibited, etc. Prosecutors show a list of officials who have completed the training, pointing out Rod Blagojevich's name on the list.

At this point, defense attorneys call a sidebar. There is a short pause while they discuss with the judge.

Back on the floor, prosecutor Reid Schar asks Keahl to read aloud from a state employee training manual. He reads from Rod Blagojevich's written introduction to state workers:

"When I became governor of this great state, one of my goals was to ... restore citizens' trust in their government," Keahl reads the ex-governor's words from the stand. "If you break these rules, you will pay a price. You can lose your job and you can go to jail."

Keahl is reading portions of the document aloud that discuss bribery, kickbacks and conflicts of interest.

Sam Adam Jr. is now crossing.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

The morning begins with a re-direct by prosecutor Reid Schar, who is firing off pointed questions at former Blago aide Doug Scofield.

Chicago businessman J.B. Pritzker is a topic of questioning -- namely whether conversations in 2008 between Pritzker and Blagojevich over the U.S. Senate seat appointment -- really happened. Scofield said in cross-examination yesterday that Blago told him he had met with Pritzker, who had pushed Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan for the seat, but acknowledged today that he didn't know if Blago was telling the truth.

Schar also noted that Blagojevich stopped calling Scofield around Nov. 13, 2008, when Valerie Jarrett pulled her name from the running for the Senate seat.

A quick round of questions from defense attorney Aaron Goldstein and Doug Scofield is off the stand.

Patti Blagojevich is decked out in all pink today. Across the room, a juror is sporting a very patriotic red, white and blue tie.

Blagojevich trial: Day 18 and recap

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Wednesday recap
Prosecutors continue to zip through Rod Blagojevich's trial at an amazing pace.
On Wednesday, they play recordings of the former governor calling Barack Obama's ascent to the presidency a "bad thing." Former campaign communications chief Doug Scofield testified that Blagojevich had "a level of jealousy and anger" regarding Obama's 2008 win. But "I'm better off with this guy winning" than Republican John McCain, he says. Blagojevich goes on to say he needs to try to take this "bad thing" and make it into something good. Prosecutors contend that meant trying to sell Obama's Senate seat for Blagojevich's gain. Scofield also talks of relaying a message from Blagojevich to an Obama intermediary that was "ridiculous, even by our standards."


Good for Blagojevich:
Even though he says he's just placating the then-governor, Scofield acknowledges that he encourages Blagojevich's musings about the Senate seat, never flagged Blagojevich's actions and never was charged for taking part in the same discussions.

Up today:
1. Prosecution's redirect examination of Scofield.
2. Judge likely to address three defense filings seeking a mistrial.

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