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."