Reporting with Lark Turner
Standing stock-straight, and taking on the air of a school teacher, Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton began her closing argument in Rod Blagojevich's retrial.
"You heard him in his own words describe the power he had. He had a U.S. Senate seat and it was effing golden and he decided he was going to cash in on that power for him," Hamilton said.
Knowing that jurors typically don't like incomplete acts -- like the ones charged in Blagojevich's case -- she's taking great care to explain that an attempt to commit a crime is a violation of the law. She says the case boils down to one question: Did Blagojevich try to get a personal benefit in exchange for an official action.
"The law protects people from being squeezed," Hamilton says. "The harm is done when the ask is made because that's the violation of the people's trust."
She likened Blagojevich's scenario to that of a traffic cop who shakes down motorists for $50 after they're pulled over. She tells jurors that it would be "ludicrous" if that cop could only be held responsible when the motorists pay the bribe.
"Or let's say the police officer was caught on tape," she says. And the cop explains: "I just threw that out there, I threw out ideas, good ones, bad ones, ugly ones. I hadn't actually decided," she says, mimicking Blagojevich's testimony that he was doing a lot of talking when he was caught on tape discussing benefits in exchange for the Senate seat appointment.
"Not only is that ludicrous. It doesn't matter," Hamilton said. "The law focuses on the ask, not whether there was a receipt."
Hamilton said the defense strategy consisted of two main themes. One, lawyers didn't want jurors to concentrate on the evidence.
And second: "The defendant lied to you under oath, in his courtroom."