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

Blagojevich defense: Obama's emissary sends panicked email to other union leader after Blago's arrest

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Before finishing up its cross-examination of witness and union leader Tom Balanoff today, the defense went before Judge James Zagel to get permission to include an e-mail Balanoff sent to fellow union leader Andy Stern the day of Blagojevich's arrest.

Defense lawyer Aaron Goldstein said Balanoff sent the e-mail to Stern that morning after he received a call from the FBI concerning the arrest, which said in simple terms that Blagojevich was arrested and "we need to talk."

Zagel wondered why Goldstein wanted to include it.

"The government calls and all of a sudden he has an immediate desire to talk to Andy Stern," Goldstein said. "He's potentially putting together a story."

But Zagel said it would be difficult for a jury to draw any type of conclusion from the e-mail without knowing what Balanoff and Stern talked about.

"There are perfectly innocent explanations as to why he would do that," Zagel said. "It was, as these things go, a fairly garish moment in public life" when Blagojevich was arrested.

When defense lawyer Lauren Kaeseberg protested that the defense doesn't know what was in the phone call because the government's witnesses will not talk to them outside of court, Zagel said if they wanted they could call the witnesses themselves.

"You're not helpless here," he said. "It's their turn now. It'll be your turn later."

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This page contains a single entry by Lark Turner published on May 10, 2011 9:43 AM.

Blagojevich retrial: Day 10, Taking off the gloves was the previous entry in this blog.

Blagojevich retrial: Doug Scofield takes the stand is the next entry in this blog.

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