Dave McKinney and Lark Turner
Rod Blagojevich began the afternoon Tuesday trying to rebut his tape-recorded words that he was prepared to bestow "a favor worth doing" by following Rahm Emanuel's constitutionally flawed advice to appoint a temporary successor to his vacant congressional seat.
Facing a gentler round of questioning from his lawyer following this morning's close of cross-examination, Blagojevich said he actually never intended to follow through and fill Emanuel's seat, as Chicago's new mayor wanted.
"I did not have the constitutional authority to do what Rep. Emanuel wanted me to do,"
Blagojevich told defense lawyer Aaron Goldstein.
Blagojevich acknowledged having a Nov. 8, 2008 conversation with Emanuel in which Emanuel floated the idea of the governor naming a successor to the vacant congressional seat after he became President Obama's chief of staff.
The governor admitted telling Emanuel, "I'm happy to appoint your guy. If I can do it, I'll do it."
But after that conversation, Blagojevich said he ran the idea past his lawyer then, William Quinlan, and political consultant Fred Yang. Both warned Blagojevich it could not be done under the Constitution, which requires a special election be held.
"I was telling Fred about what Congressman Emanuel was asking me to do. Fred was intrigued Congressman Emanuel was asking me to break the Constitution," Blagojevich testified. "It was his understanding I didn't have the constitutional authority to do it."
Goldstein asked Blagojevich whether he ever appointed anyone to the open 5th Congressional District seat or whether a special election was set. Prosecutors blocked Blagojevich from answering either question.