Transcript courtesy Federal News Service
MEDIA AVAILABILITY WITH ED GENSON, ATTORNEY FOR ILLINOIS GOVERNOR ROD BLAGOJEVICH (D)
3:34 P.M. EST, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2008
MR. GENSON: (In progress) -- not due process. The reason is -- the courts make these rules are not to be technical; the reason they make the rules the way they do is because certain evidence -- certain evidence should not be admitted for certain things.
And so this is my argument here. I'm -- I'd feel bad if they want to get their job done that they have to rely on this kind of thing, but I certainly can't agree to a hearing and to a proceeding that relies on what is basically testimony that shouldn't be allowed.
Q So is there --
Q And --
Q Can he get a fair -- can he get a fair shake out of this committee now?
MR. GENSON: I'm hoping he can. I'm -- I'm -- I'm -- you know, hope springs eternal. I don't know if they're going to give him a fair shake or if they're not. Like I said, I know several people on that committee that I think are people of integrity. And if they recognized what I said, he will get a fair shake.
Q Well, you called this illegal.
Q Are you saying -- you're saying this is political and not legal.
MR. GENSON: I don't -- I'm not a politician, and I'm not going to say what's political and I'm not going to say what's not political. I'm a lawyer. And a lawyer goes into a courtroom, he -- or a hearing, or whatever -- and advocates his client's position as best he can. And that's what I've done. And let the politicians think about the politics. I'm going to do the best I can and try to get these people not to listen to evidence which I think was inappropriately offered.
Q Did you -- did you think --
Q Would you recommend that your client testify in front of this committee?
MR. GENSON: My client may or may not testify before this committee. My client was planning on having a -- making a statement this Friday, but I got a feeling I might not be around Chicago this Friday. So maybe it'll be next week. He wants to speak.
Now, you -- you have to understand this. I mean, he's charged with serious criminal charges. Because someone doesn't want to give -- give an advance notice of what he's going to say doesn't make the person guilty.
I mean, look, Fitzgerald -- (chuckles) -- could release the tapes. He's going to give -- he could bring in witnesses. He can -- he doesn't do it because he's a bad person; he doesn't do it because it doesn't -- he doesn't want it to impact on his case, just as if I decide that my client isn't going to talk about the same thing I'm not different from Fitzgerald. Why should I be any different than him?
Now, we'll deal with the issue of his press conference, but he wasn't subject to cross examination of his press conference. The fact of the matter is he is not bringing any witnesses, he's not giving me the tapes, and I would guess he won't give it to them either, not because he's bad, not because he's wrong, not because he's unfair; he's not doing it because lawyers -- (chuckles) -- don't do it.
Q But doesn't the governor have an obligation to the people of this state, as well, to explain this and to rest people's minds about this whole situation?
MR. GENSON: The government has an -- has an obligation, and the government -- and I don't want to stick up for anybody -- to try the -- to try the best lawsuit he can. And they're trying the best -- well, you're talking about the governor now, or prosecutor?
Q The governor's obligation to the people of Illinois to explain what's happening?
MR. GENSON: The governor has an obligation to the people of the state of Illinois, but the governor has an obligation to his family to make certain that the -- that the United States government doesn't get an advance -- an advance preview of what he's going to say.
Q Can you clarify if you're asking the state to appoint you to the paid -- the governor's paid legal counsel for both the impeachment and the criminal case?
MR. GENSON: Oh, no, I'm not asking for anything for the criminal case. The reason I filed the motion and I filed it in the Supreme Court -- and I know if you guys know, but the Supreme Court denied the attorney general's position -- is simply that he is the governor, and as a sitting governor he is entitled to be represented by the attorney general.
He happens to have an attorney general who files things against him, so that's not appropriate.
I don't see why he should lose his right to be represented by an attorney general in these kinds of things, this hearing or this -- this motion in front of the Supreme Court because the attorney general wants to prosecute him. The fact of the matter is -- and we're not just talking about these -- these criminal allegations. What we're talking about and what we're going to hear tomorrow is them arguing that because he issued -- he issued some sort -- he went and got flu vaccine because he felt that there was going to be a shortage and he didn't do it the way they wanted him to, that makes it impeachable.
These are the kinds of things that should have been and should be defended by the attorney general of Illinois. That's what they get paid for. So -- and initially, the attorney general did the right thing. Initially, the attorney general appointed a special prosecutor, but she sort of obviated that response. She sort of messed up that one up when she goes on "Meet The Press" and doesn't let the special prosecutor go on.
And we can't very well ask her to defend him for this. And if he has an obligation to be defended by her, I felt that they should pay -- they being the state of Illinois -- pay us. Evidently, no one's going --
Q What is your -- (off mike) -- but what is your rate?
MR. GENSON: Criminal, no one's paying me. (Chuckles.) Why should I tell you what my rate is?
Q What do you plan to charge the state if that -- this --
Q You called this illegal.
MR. GENSON: Whatever they think is fair.
Q You called it illegal upstairs. You said the proceeding was illegal.
MR. GENSON: No, I said portions of the proceeding were illegal.
Q Is this a kangaroo court?
MR. GENSON: I'm not calling people -- look, I'm asking them to rule in my favor, and whether they -- I think they may or may not, I'm certainly not going to call people who I'm begging to say I'm right "a kangaroo court." I'm not crazy, all right?
Q (Off mike.)
MR. GENSON: So, I mean, you know -- and so I'm not going to say any such thing. And I'm repeating it, I'm not saying any such thing. That was your question.
Q Are you working pro bono --
Q What do you think about --
Q Judging from the tone of everything that went on here today, did you get the feeling that that committee was trying to put you in your place?
MR. GENSON: No.
Q Are you working pro bono --
MR. GENSON: Did you?
Q I asked you.
MR. GENSON: Well, I didn't think so, but maybe I'm too thick- skinned. Who knows?
Q Didn't you think they were especially combative? You don't think they were trying to tell you this isn't a federal court, that you're going to play by our rules if you're here --
MR. GENSON: Well, their rules means I shouldn't have shown up. But the fact of the matter is I'm going to defend my client, and I really don't care about their attitude.
Q Why are their rules that you shouldn't have shown up?
MR. GENSON: Well, if they -- if they resent it, I mean, maybe I -- maybe -- maybe there's something wrong here. You know, you are pushing me, Jay.
Q Do you think they resented you?
MR. GENSON: Who's the next question?
Q What's your opinion on the Supreme --
Q You said you aren't being compensated in the criminal case. Are you working pro bono in the criminal case?
MR. GENSON: I never said I wasn't being compensated. I said I wasn't going to ask the attorney general for money.
Q Yeah, I thought you said you weren't being paid in the -- how are you being paid in the criminal case?
MR. GENSON: It's none of your business.
Q Do you plan to be here every day that there's a future hearing?
MR. GENSON: Well, I have -- I have Sam, Jr. here. You know, maybe -- you know, maybe there'll be days when my old bones will say you can't walk a mile today. But then there will be Sam, and you'll see. You'll see him.
Q Why did you agree to take this case?
MR. GENSON: It's interesting.
Because that's what I do for a living. Because I've been defending people for 44 years and I -- and I take the cases that are fun. That that's the advantage of not working for a law firm; you take the cases that are fun. This is fun.
Now, that's not suggesting that my client thinks it's fun. (Laughter.) And maybe I shouldn't have said it, but it's an interesting case, and I felt that it was something I wanted to be involved in.
Q What's your take on the Supreme Court rejecting Madigan's --
MR. GENSON: My take is exactly what they did. I didn't think she should have filed there, and I guess I was right.
Q Why not? Why shouldn't she?
MR. GENSON: Because we have an impeachment proceeding that they're trying to do down here. They're not -- the Supreme Court's not trying -- is not -- doesn't want to, I don't believe, take over what the legislature is either going to do or not going to do.
Q What do you think the standard for impeachment ought to be? You raised that during the committee, that there's not really a clear one. What do you think it should be?
MR. GENSON: Well, there isn't any one. That's the problem with this situation. The Constitution doesn't say what the basis for impeachment should be. The Constitution doesn't say what the standard of proof should be. It's sort of what everybody feels like. And since there's only been one filed and one that was filed -- it about 13 years ago, and it never got that far -- nobody really knows what it's going to be.
I guess what -- what it seems to be is whatever the conscience of the individual legislature wants it to be. But I have no idea.
Q Well, what would your advice be for them in terms of considering this? What do you think --
MR. GENSON: I would -- I think it's a pretty serious matter. And I think the minimum it should be -- the minimum should be clear and convincing or perhaps beyond a reasonable doubt. But certainly it shouldn't be nothing, and that's what we see here. It's not their fault that nobody wrote a law that said what the standard was.
Q Isn't it a high standard, though, when someone --
(END OF AVAILABLE AUDIO.)