Chicago Sun-Times
Inside the Rod Blagojevich investigation and related cases

Blagojevich trial: Defense lawyers argue to have conspiracy charges tossed

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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."

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This is just scary to me that the overt act is having someone do legal/governmental research -- like a terrorist conspiraring, and the overt act is looking up bomb making. It is not the same! The whole selling of the senate seat is the weakest of all the counts, to me, because I clearly think the evidence showed Obama's team started the dealing with Marilyn Katz, then Balanoff. The most worrisome parts of the case are the Johnston stuff because it looks like -- every day I delay in signing the bill costs you money, so I'll delay until you give me some -- and the firewall/fbi interview allegation which is their best hope for a conviction. I don't know where this trust fund thing came from -- it was to be big money dems helping to finance a foundation to advocate for the President's agenda -- it's done all the time on both sides. Balanoff asked for the meeting, did he not? Criminy, this is nuts.

Irrespective of what was presented, proven or not, being elected for the people and by the people, overt greed and jealousy has no place in government. Blago is going to jail.

I think the key thing the defense should push is that yes there was meetings, but those meetings don't show intent because as the tapes show there was no intent of choosing anyone. Its crazy to believe anyone knew what rod was going to do, the gov'ts testimony should that rod was a wildcard and people never new what to expect from him and it also showed he considered(not a crime even finding out what you can get if you don't have intent at least not conspiracy) doing things that would have been illegal, but he made no choice.

He didn't need to appoint someone, but he did have to have intent to take something for the appointment and the tapes and testimony showed that there was still the lisa madigan deal on the table.(which leave a beyond reasonable doubt that he had intent, he never told any of these guys who he clearly trusted that he did not plan on appointing her, it seems to me even in other areas he would yell about it, but eventually he would listen to his advisors advice. And in this case it was to either appoint Jarret for nothing or Lisa for a political deal that would help pass bills.

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This page contains a single entry by Sarah Ostman published on July 21, 2010 2:48 PM.

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