Reporting with Lark Turner
Federal prosecutors accused Rod Blagojevich of making "clear fabrications" to the public in recent TV appearances and in print interviews as the judge in the case issued a warning to Blagojevich to tone down his media comments.
Meanwhile, prosecutors jabbed Blagojevich for not taking the witness stand in the case.
Top prosecutor Reid Schar grew as emphatic as he has since the case went to trial; "If he wants to continue to lie, he ought to be called on it," Schar told U.S. District Judge James Zagel.
Schar said he was most angered by a Blagojevich TV interview this morning in which he said prosecutors were not allowing him to play recordings he wanted at trial. Zagel has admonished Blagojevich before about such statements, since decisions over evidence fall squarely on the judge.
Schar asked Zagel to offer "some remedy to address what are clear fabrications he's not being called on." Schar called the statements a direct attempt to poison the jury pool as jury selection is set to begin on Wednesday for the retrial.
Zagel issued a warning to Blagojevich to tone down his on-air rhetoric and said lawyers should consider the judge's words in court a "red flag."
"He could, if he hasn't already done so, step over the line," Zagel said of Blagojevich's repeated public statements. "I know few defense counsel who encourage this." He later added: "You can consider my remarks today as a red flag."
Schar said prosecutors did not complain about Blagojevich's frequent on-air appearances before last summer's trial because they believed Blagojevich would take the witness stand and they would have a chance to show: "that it's absurd and he's a liar."
But Schar said he increasingly doubts Blagojevich will take the stand. Blagojevich hasn't promised this time around and his lawyers won't say either.
Schar called a recent TV interview where Blagojevich again brought up the recording issue "phenomenal in terms of fabrication."
Blagojevich's lawyer, Shelly Sorosky, tried interjecting by saying perhaps Blagojevich
grew confused over the law. Bristling, Schar cut him off, noting Blagojevich is a former attorney and prosecutor.
"These are his talking points," Schar said. "This is not a mistake."
Leaving court, Sorosky had nothing further to say.
"I'd better not say anything," he said.