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

Blagojevich: I honestly believed what I was talking about was legal

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By Abdon Pallasch and Natasha Korecki

When it came to the sale of the U.S. Senate seat, Rod Blagojevich said he believed that trading his power to appoint for a personal benefit was perfectly legal.

"Did you honestly believe that what you were talking about was legal?" Blagojevich's attorney, Aaron Goldstein asked without the jury present.

"Yes I did," Blagojevich said.

"Did you honestly believe that exchanging the senate seat for [a cabinet post as] Health and Human Services was legal?" Goldstein asked.

"Yes, I did," Blagojevich said.

Or a non-profit position or an ambassadorship?

Yes, Blagojevich answered.

Why did he think it was legal? He starts ticking off historical political deals.

According to Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals," Abraham Lincoln made a deal with the governor of Pennsylvania to make him secretary of war in exchange for his support fort president, Blagojevich said.

Blagojevich said Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton made a deal for him to give $10 million in campaign funds to help her retire her campaign debt -- and to appoint her secretary of state in exchange for her pulling out of the race for president. That charge has not been documented.

When President Kennedy gave up his senate seat, he put a place-holder there until his brother Ted was old enough to run for it, Blagojevich said.

Former Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde asked Blagjevich to support an Alabama judge being able to post the 10 Commandments in his courtroom in exchange for approving a post office named for a slain police officer in Blagjoevich's district when Blagojevich was in congress.

Judge James Zagel was skeptical: "His historical recitation involves some things historcally accepted as true, some things [that are] speculative," Zagel said. "The stuff about his experiences actually doing things in political life, is not analogous to the issues were are dealing with here ... it's just a bunch of irrelevant stuff."

Blagojevich keeps mentioning that he discussed all of this with his senior advisors including his general counsel Bill Quinlan.

Prosecutors called that a "back-door" attempt to introduce the argument that Blagojevich was not guilty because he was relying on the advice of counsel, an argument Zagel has already said he can't make.

Now, they are arguing about whether or not his belief in his actions' legality is relevant.

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5 Comments

I think the characterization that saying it is fin golden blatanly show what he was doing is illegal. I think people don't like to hear those words, and blagos explanation was pretty bad, but who wouldnt think its fin golden, you get to appoint a us Senator. Thats a huge deal, it could be a historic moment that you started with that persons appointment, its fascinating.
Note:after him trying to blame even his honest advisors I don't really think rods a very good person and I dont think it would be that bad if he did some hard time

None of his examples involve a sitting politician using his power for personal gain.

Don't think Blago was so blinded by his own "golden" boy rise to have never heard "ignorance of the law is no excuse."

Judge Zagel sure wants Blago to be found guilty. No doubt about it. The judge needs a few logic lessons. For me, logic trumps the law. Parallel news story today: Daley hired by law firm that does legal business for the city. Good luck to B.

Great coverage, Thank You, Natasha!

So the juiciest part of this extended trial has began.. how fun! Blago should try a career in entertainment, he certainly is good at it!

The circumstances surrounding Rod Blagojevich are completely different that anyone he's trying to compare himself or his actions too.

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This page contains a single entry by Natasha Korecki published on June 1, 2011 10:00 AM.

Blagojevich: Pols throughout history did just what he did was the previous entry in this blog.

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