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.