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

Former deputy governor: Blagojevich was shaking down Rahm Emanuel

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Rod Blagojevich's former deputy governor Bradley Tusk testified the then-governor told him he was holding up a grant to a Chicago school because he was waiting for then-congressman Rahm Emanuel's brother to hold a fundraiser.

"Congressman Emanuel was upset that the funding had not been released and wanted it to be released," Tusk said in brief testimony. But when he called Blagojevich to find out what the problem was, he testified Blagojevich told him "something to the effect that the grant would not be released unless the congressman's brother held a fundraiser for him first."

"I got off the phone as quickly as I could," Tusk said. He didn't relay the message to Emanuel.

To the jurors' credit, at least six women with front-row seats are spending this morning's at-times dry testimony taking copious notes. When defense lawyer Sheldon Sorosky steps up to cross-examine Tusk, it looks like jurors have a mixture of amusement and annoyance as the 'Sorosky show' ensues.

That includes a lot of back-and-forth between Sorosky and U.S. District Judge James Zagel, who continues to berate Sorosky for making an argument through his questioning.

"Don't do this. Ask the questions, get the answers, don't make a speech," he said, later adding: "If you're done with the cross-examination, just sit down, because this is your closing argument."

Zagel, for the first time, slipped in front of the jury and told Sorosky if he wanted to ask certain questions he could call Tusk in the defense's case. The defense has no obligation to put on a case.

Tusk's testimony has finished up and the prosecutors are edging close to their case's end. They will call Doug Scofield for a follow-up and will bookend their case with testimony from FBI special agent Daniel Cain, who opened testimony.

The defense has yet to say if they'll put on a case or call Blagojevich to testify.The legal teams were pulled into a sidebar with Zagel after Tusk stepped down and are now in two separate groups in the courtroom, with the defense pow-wowwing in a far corner and prosecutors conversing a few feet away.

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney Back on the stand, Rod Blagojevich is being examined about a grant to a Chicago school he promised to then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel sometime in 2006. Prosecutors allege Blagojevich held up money to the... Read More

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This page contains a single entry by Lark Turner published on May 19, 2011 11:37 AM.

Alleged school shakedown victim: I 'probably' wrote Blagojevich a thank you note was the previous entry in this blog.

And that's a wrap. Federal prosecutors rest case in speedy Blagojevich retrial is the next entry in this blog.

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