Reporting with Natasha Korecki
Whew. Rod Blagojevich's one-time close friend and former chief of staff Lon Monk is off the stand, and the courtroom was full of relieved sighs and stretches all around when defense lawyer Sheldon Sorosky told the judge he had no more questions.
Sorosky finished up his questioning by bringing up Monk's guilty plea - though he seemed to have some trouble remembering what exactly Monk pled guilty to. Prosecutor Christopher Niewoehner helped him out, standing up and whispering in his ear.
"....Conspiracy to solicit a bribe," Sorosky finished. "However, you did NOT plead guilty" to taking cash from Tony Rezko, he added.
Sorosky was cut off from saying that, but not before a juror who works as a nutritionist grew wide-eyed and shot a glance at a fellow juror.
The prosecution's follow-up focused on who told Monk to talk to racetrack executive John Johnston and construction consultant Gerald Krozel about donating to the campaign while they waited on certain legislation. "Rod," Monk answers.
"Who was gonna benefit from that contribution?" asks Niewoehner.
"The governor," Monk responds.
Meanwhile, Blagojevich looks from the prosecutor to Monk like it's a tennis match, brows furrowed.
In a session with Monk withiout the jury, where both sides asked him questions so Zagel could see if they were admissible in court, the judge finally stepped in and asked Monk a couple of questions of his own.
"Am I correct that your understanding of the governor's conversation with respect to Johnston was that Johnston should understand, even if you did not explicitly say this to him, that a prompter signing of the Recapture Bill would be influenced by the giving and the size of contribution?" Zagel asked.
"Yes," Monk responded.
"Did you think that this was both proper and legal for you to do?" asks Zagel.
"No," Monk said.
Zagel said he won't allow any of the questioning outside the presence of the jury to be asked in open court.
The prosecution will call Johnston next.