***MANDATORY CREDIT "FOX NEWS SUNDAY"***
"FOX NEWS SUNDAY"
AUGUST 22, 2010
SPEAKERS: CHRIS WALLACE, HOST
FORMER GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH, D-ILL.
WALLACE: I'm Chris Wallace and this is "Fox News Sunday." The case against Rod Blagojevich, part two -- prosecutors seem to have the evidence to convict him of corruption.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BLAGOJEVICH: I've got this thing and it's (bleep) golden. I'm just not giving it up for (bleep) nothing.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WALLACE: But the high-profile trial ended with a hung jury on all but one count. We'll ask the controversial former governor the hard questions he never had to answer in court. Rod Blagojevich -- it's a "Fox News Sunday" exclusive.
Then, in growing numbers, Americans question the president's religious beliefs while top Democrats split over the Ground Zero mosque. We'll ask our Sunday panel what's the fallout for the midterm elections.
And our Power Player of the Week, a mother's story of courage, all right now on "Fox News Sunday."
And hello again from Fox News in Washington. The corruption trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich finally ended this week. He was convicted on one count of making false statements to the FBI, but the jury could not reach a verdict on all the other charges.
The governor joins us now from Chicago for a Sunday exclusive.
Governor, you were supposed to come here to Washington today, but instead you attended a convention in Chicago called Comic-Con, where you posed with superheroes and charged $50 for an autograph and $80 for a photo. Is there anything you won't do for a buck these days?
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, I didn't really get any money from any of the photos I took, because I took probably hundreds of them and couldn't bother to ask anybody for any money for that. Those were free.
I did sign some signatures. I was there because I was invited at the last minute by the promoters, and it was an opportunity to get out there among the people.
You know, Chris, when the federal government comes down on you and these prosecutors are determined to get you when they target you, among the things they do that doesn't make headlines is they squeeze you financially.
They squeeze you and your family to keep you from being able to earn a living and to force you and compel you to basically surrender and give up and admit to things that you didn't do. And so part of this battle that I'm in, this war that I'm in, is also one where I have to make a living for my little girls, my daughters and for my wife.
And when I was invited and had a chance to be able to do that, I did it. The reality is I spent most of my time just meeting with people, ordinary people, and just feeling the pulse of them.
It wasn't exactly, you know, some tremendous way to earn a living, but it was -- it was a way to get out among the people and a chance, frankly, to meet some of the heroes that some of us had when we were kids, like, you know, the guy that played Batman, Burt Ward, and the guy that played Robin, Adam West -- I flipped them around. It's the other way around.
But no, it's important to earn a living when you're facing these kinds of situations and we're trying to...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... you know, keep our head above water.
BLAGOJEVICH: Yes, Chris.
WALLACE: ... prosecutors have already said they're going to re- try you. And in fact, there's going to be a court hearing on Thursday to discuss the schedule for that.
The fact is you were not acquitted. The jury hung on 23 of those 24 counts. So why shouldn't the government re-try you, which they do all the time?
BLAGOJEVICH: Chris, when the government went into my house at 6 o'clock in the morning on December 9th, 2008, and this prosecutor had me locked up in a jail cell, and he told the people of Illinois and the people across America that I was selling the president's Senate seat for money, and he was, quote, unquote, stopping a crime spree before it happened, that Abraham Lincoln would roll over in his grave, he did what Winston Churchill said. He told a lie.
And that traveled halfway around the world before the truth had a chance to put its pants on. The government put their case on. We did not put on a defense. Their case did not prove any corruption, as I had said all along.
And in the final analysis, notwithstanding the fact that we didn't put on a defense, the government failed to prove any corruption and confirmed everything I've said. Now, I'm ready for round two.
In the second round, we're going to put a defense on, I'm certain. And in that particular case, you know, we're going to call witnesses like Rahm Emanuel, Senator Harry Reid, Senator Menendez, Congressman Jackson, Congressman Costello, and a host of other leading Democrats who were involved in this process to try to make a decision on who the...
WALLACE: I -- I -- wait, wait, wait.
BLAGOJEVICH: ... next senator should be.
WALLACE: I want to -- I've got to pick you up on this because, Governor, you know, you talked about a big defense, and calling all these witnesses, and you couldn't wait to take the stand, and you didn't do any of that.
Are you saying now -- and quite frankly, people are going to be skeptical of anything you say. Are you saying you're going to call all those people to testify in a second trial?
BLAGOJEVICH: They were all subpoenaed. In fact, we tried to subpoena President Obama. The judge...
WALLACE: Well, it's not a question of subpoena. You could have called them and you didn't call them. So are you saying, "so help me God, I am going to call those people?"
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, I intended to testify and we intended to call all those people in the first trial. The government promised that their case was going to...
WALLACE: I'm asking you...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... take four months.
WALLACE: ... a question, though. Are you saying, "So help me God, I'm going to testify -- I'm going to call these people in the second trial?"
BLAGOJEVICH: I'm going to do what I did in the first trial, which is work with my lawyers and see how things unfold. We're prepared to call them as witnesses, like we were the first time. And I'm eager to testify, like I was the first time.
The decision to not put a case on was based upon the fact that the government's case was so flimsy and weak that my lawyers advised me, and I made the decision, to rest our case. And we made the right decision. The government failed to prove their case.
And it's remarkable, when you think about what that prosecutor said, that we didn't even put a defense on, and rightfully.
WALLACE: I -- wait.
BLAGOJEVICH: The jury...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... did not find...
WALLACE: Let me -- let -- I -- I...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... any corruption.
WALLACE: I -- one of the things I worried about is you do have a tendency to go on, and I want to get through some areas with you.
So if I can get you to answer my specific...
WALLACE: ... questions, sir, you paid for your defense in the first trial because you had a big campaign war chest of several million dollars. That money has now run out. And if you have a second trial, it's going to be picked up by the federal taxpayers. I suspect a lot of our viewers are going to be shocked to hear that.
How much is that going to cost taxpayers if there's a second trial to pay for your defense?
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, I think the question ought to be to the prosecutor, "How much money of taxpayers dollars did you spend on this trial?" I would guess tens of millions of dollars, to get a guy you targeted for -- you know, for six years. And then when we didn't even put a defense on, you could not show any corruption. And you couldn't because it didn't exist.
The next question should be why would that person use taxpayer dollars to bring another prosecution again. The Wall Street Journal had said that this is or the Washington Post had said this has turned from a prosecution to a persecution, and should the taxpayers have to pay for a prosecutor who's out to get somebody?
We have crime in the streets of Chicago, Mayor Daley struggling to get 100 new police officers. One hundred and seventy-nine FBI agents in this case, Chris, went around asking questions of people, "Do I gamble," which I don't. "Do I do drugs," which I don't, and the most sickening question, "Am I unfaithful to my wife Patti," which I'm not. I'm devoted. I love her. And I'm faithful.
BLAGOJEVICH: The idea that your tax dollars and mine are being spent on questions like that I think ought to raise questions. And those questions should be posed...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... to the prosecutors who are persecuting me.
WALLACE: Governor, let's get to the central charge against you in this case, not about whether or not you did drugs or were unfaithful, but whether or not you wanted to sell the Senate seat of Barack Obama after he was elected president.
The jury believed you were guilty by a vote of 11...
WALLACE: They -- excuse me, sir. They believed you were guilty by a vote of 11 to one. Here are some of the phone conversations you made that the government secretly recorded. Let's listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BLAGOJEVICH: I've got this thing and it's (bleep) golden. I'm just not giving it up for (bleep) nothing. I'd like to get (bleep) out of here. The objective is get a good gig over there.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BLAGOJEVICH: Cabinet's out of the question but Health and Human Services would be my -- I'd take that in a second.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BLAGOJEVICH: U.N. ambassador -- I'd take that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BLAGOJEVICH: You Russian mother-(bleep). Can you see me?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WALLACE: Governor, you never say that "X" would be a great senator in any of those tapes. What you're saying is, "If I give them the senator they want, what seat in the cabinet, in the U.N., can I get?"
And in other recordings you're saying, "If I give this seat to somebody, what can I get in terms of hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign contributions?"
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, no. Let me discuss that. Less than 2 percent of the tapes were played in court by the prosecutors. They put in what they thought were the ugliest tapes.
These are conversations that I had with lawyers and staffers, brainstorming, exploring ideas. You just played the one with me saying U.N. ambassador, and then I said the Russian M.F.'ers. And again, I apologize for the profanity. I'm joking around in some of those conversations. I'm brainstorming, exploring things, discussing things, probing...
WALLACE: But wait. Wait. When you say...
BLAGOJEVICH: But the...
WALLACE: ... that I've got this "F"'ing thing and it's "F"'ing golden and...
WALLACE: ... I'm not giving it away for "F"'ing nothing, you don't sound like you're joking. You sound like the Senate seat of Barack Obama is a prize and I'm going to sell it.
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, that's how they make it sound when they take a...
WALLACE: No, that's the...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... quote like that...
WALLACE: ... way you make it sound, sir.
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, but you don't hear the whole -- but you don't hear the whole conversation. You would assume that after I say that, the next thing is, "I want $5 million in a Swiss bank account," which is, of course, absurd, and I'd never, ever would intend to do anything like that.
I was discussing with one of my advisers the possibility of political horse-trading that we might be able to have. You know, I could have made myself a U.S. senator. If this was about a job for me, I could have immediately made myself a senator, or my wife, or, you know, a friend.
I had the power to do that. I was trying to consider a variety of options, consider every conceivable idea. And again, 98 percent of the tapes were not played in court. You ought to hear what I said...
WALLACE: But wait a minute. You know...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... about Oprah Winfrey.
WALLACE: ... you had the tapes, Governor. If you wanted to play the other 98 percent of the tapes, you could have played them. You didn't choose to play them. Let me ask you...
BLAGOJEVICH: I wish that was true, Chris. No, the rules of evidence and the -- and the prosecutors objected to us playing the tapes that we wanted. Ultimately, if we were going to be able to put a case on, I think the judge agreed to allow us to play something like 15 tapes.
BLAGOJEVICH: I have challenged...
WALLACE: But the point is...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... the prosecutor publicly...
WALLACE: ... you could -- you could have played tapes...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... release all the tapes to the public.
WALLACE: Sir, you could have played tapes...
WALLACE: ... that got you off the hook if you wanted to. You chose not to. But the crime spree that Pat Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney, the prosecutor, was talking about that he says he stopped was that you were about to appoint a Senate -- someone to the Senate seat in return for big campaign contributions.
Question: Didn't you meet with Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. on December 8th, the day before you were arrested?
BLAGOJEVICH: I did. And both Congressman Jackson and I will tell you we never once discussed money. And if, in fact, that were the case, then you have to ask yourself, "Why didn't the prosecutor charge Congressman Jackson?"
And then ask yourself this -- and I was a prosecutor. When you do a surveillance and you're about to see two drug dealers make a deal, you don't stop them before they make the deal. You wait until they do it and then you arrest both of them. What that prosecutor stopped...
WALLACE: Well, you know...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... was a political deal.
WALLACE: Forgive me sir, but a -- but a deal is not the...
BLAGOJEVICH: Go ahead.
WALLACE: ... a deal is not the same as a governor appointing someone to the United States Senate. In fact...
BLAGOJEVICH: It never happened.
WALLACE: If I may -- if I may ask, didn't you...
BLAGOJEVICH: Go ahead.
WALLACE: ... weren't you on tape talking with advisers just before you met with Jackson, in the days in December before you met with him about, one, getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from him and his supporters, and two, about getting money from him up front to show that he would be good for the big money?
BLAGOJEVICH: Chris, I've challenged the prosecutor to release the tapes on December 8th, December 7th, December 6th, December 5th...
WALLACE: You're not answering my question.
BLAGOJEVICH: ... the week before, 10 days before.
WALLACE: Did you or not discuss that?
BLAGOJEVICH: Release it to the public. You will see -- you will see the full conversations and the full context...
WALLACE: Did you discuss...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... and what they stopped...
WALLACE: Did you say that or not, sir? Did you talk about getting money from Jesse Jackson up front, quote?
BLAGOJEVICH: I don't -- there were -- there was a tape played in court where my brother was approached by a representative. We talked about the Jackson people offering something like $1 million or $1.5 million in campaign contributions. My brother very clearly said we -- money will have nothing to do with this decision.
This was never about campaign contributions. What the prosecutor stopped was a political deal where Rahm Emanuel's helping make happen. Congressman Costello possibly could have been involved. Harry Reid is on the phone talking to me. Senator Menendez is on the phone talking to me.
They were helping me make a political deal to create jobs through public works, health care expansion and a written promise not to raise taxes.
BLAGOJEVICH: And I went to bed that night thinking that deal was a day or two away, and this prosecutor arrested me to stop that deal. They should play the tapes on December 8th, December 7th, December 6th.
WALLACE: You could...
BLAGOJEVICH: I will waive any rights I have to play those publicly so you can see them all and hear them all. I challenged the prosecutor do it -- to do it, but he won't, Chris...
WALLACE: Governor, let's talk about...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... because he knows what the truth is.
WALLACE: Governor, let's talk about another charge against you. Didn't you agree to raise Medicaid reimbursement rates, increase payments to Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, but you expected to get big campaign contributions?
BLAGOJEVICH: See, here's another example of how upside down this case is and how they -- how they're lying.
And again, the person from the hospital who's a member of the Illinois Hospital Association -- it's an organization that is a PAC that raises money for candidates. He testified under oath that for six years he was trying to get an increase in reimbursement rates for doctors who care for kids.
He went to the state Senate, no. Went to the house, no. Went to my staff, couldn't get it. He had the former Cubs manager Dusty Baker call me. Dusty Baker called me and brought my attention to the issue. I called that guy. I found the money for them. They got the money when it was...
WALLACE: Wait. Wait a minute. Wait a...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... after...
WALLACE: ... wait, wait, wait.
BLAGOJEVICH: ... it was promised -- go ahead.
WALLACE: Governor, let's listen to a conversation...
WALLACE: ... that was played in court of a conversation that you had...
BLAGOJEVICH: Go ahead.
WALLACE: ... with your deputy governor, Robert Greenlee.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BLAGOJEVICH: The pediatric doctors -- the reimbursement -- has that gone out yet or is that still on hold?
DEPUTY GOVERNOR ROBERT GREENLEE: The rate increase?
GREENLEE: It's January 1.
BLAGOJEVICH: And we have total discretion over it?
BLAGOJEVICH: We can pull it back if we needed to -- budgetary concerns -- right?
GREENLEE: We sure could. Yep.
BLAGOJEVICH: OK. Good to know.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WALLACE: And during the trial, Governor, Greenlee, your deputy governor, said this, "I didn't know why I was being asked not to move forward, but I knew it wasn't budgetary concerns."
BLAGOJEVICH: The tape speaks for itself. I asked my deputy governor can we hold it up for budgetary reasons. I was cutting $2 billion out of the budget at that time. He said we could. And what did I say? Quote, "It's good to know."
What didn't I say was hold it up, stop it. And what did the person from the hospital say when he testified under oath? They got the money. And he also said they would have never gotten the money but for me and my personal intervention.
WALLACE: Wait, wait, wait, wait. Let's talk -- let's talk about...
BLAGOJEVICH: And again, the jury was right to find no corruption there.
WALLACE: Governor, let's -- wait. Let's...
BLAGOJEVICH: Go ahead.
WALLACE: Let's find exactly what was said, because the CEO of Children's Hospital, Patrick Magoon, said shortly after you told him that the rate increase would be kicked in, that Children's Hospital would get its money, your brother asked him to raise contributions. And then Magoon said this, "I felt threatened. I felt at risk."
BLAGOJEVICH: The answer is I never talked to him about a fundraiser. I never asked him to. My brother was making...
WALLACE: No, your brother did.
BLAGOJEVICH: ... routine calls -- well, asking people to raise money who had raised money before -- asking. And he -- and he didn't call him back. And he -- you know, and I didn't call him, because I didn't want him to feel any undue pressure. What the...
WALLACE: Well, what -- then why did he...
BLAGOJEVICH: And that's why...
WALLACE: ... testify that he felt threatened, he felt at risk? This is the head of Children's Hospital in Chicago.
BLAGOJEVICH: I don't know if that -- I don't know exactly what he -- what he thinks. I can't speak for him. I can simply say the facts are...
WALLACE: Well, he spoke for himself.
BLAGOJEVICH: ... I never called him. My brother asked him for a fundraiser. They got $8 million reimbursement increase only because of me, which he testified to. And this is an upside-down charge.
And the jury was right to find no corruption on that particular charge. They twist these case -- these facts and try to take some things out of context and piece them together. Again, the reality is the hospital got the money that they never got otherwise but for me. I didn't get a fundraiser. Nobody pressured anybody.
You ask for a fundraiser. They say no. The Democratic Senate president John Cullerton has publicly said that he's done favors for that very fellow, Mr. Magoon, from Children's Memorial Hospital and that he's had fundraisers from that guy, Mr. Magoon. That's how politics works.
As long as you don't expressly links one to the another, this is how -- this is how the business works. These prosecutors...
WALLACE: But wait -- wait a minute.
BLAGOJEVICH: ... are trying to...
WALLACE: But you did...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... take some things...
WALLACE: ... expressly -- but you did expressly link in many cases one thing to the other -- the Senate seat, maybe I can be the U.N. ambassador. There are...
BLAGOJEVICH: Not for fundraisers.
WALLACE: The Senate seat, maybe I can get...
BLAGOJEVICH: But not for fundraisers.
WALLACE: ... campaign contributions. Governor, let me ask you...
BLAGOJEVICH: Chris, I talk to my lawyers all the time. I spoke to them on those telephone calls.
WALLACE: Do you -- this...
BLAGOJEVICH: There are hundreds of hours of conversation with lawyers and staffers that were not played in court. And I'm asking for...
WALLACE: You could have...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... advice. I'm talking...
WALLACE: You could have...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... out loud because my...
WALLACE: ... played some of that. You could have...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... intent is not...
WALLACE: ... played some of that, sir, if you'd wanted to, and you chose not to.
Let me ask you about the portrait that...
BLAGOJEVICH: And the government couldn't prove any corruption, which is precisely what there wasn't. There was no corruption.
WALLACE: Well, in some cases it was 11...
BLAGOJEVICH: And they could not prove any corruption.
WALLACE: In some cases it was 11 to one. Let's talk about the portrait...
BLAGOJEVICH: We didn't put a defense on. We would call Rahm Emanuel and a whole bunch of other people the second time around to show exactly what was going on.
WALLACE: Let's talk about the portrait of you that was painted at the trial. Your deputy governor said that you spent two to eight hours a week -- not a day; two to eight hours a week -- in the governor's office and that he sometimes had to track you down, that you'd be hiding in the bathroom behind your office and he'd have to track you down to discuss important budgetary matters.
BLAGOJEVICH: You know, he also said he was afraid of me, and he was saying all kinds of things. They -- the government prosecutors threatened these people because he was afraid he was going to get charged with crimes.
WALLACE: He was never charged.
BLAGOJEVICH: And they gave him immunity.
WALLACE: He was never charged and he was...
BLAGOJEVICH: They gave him immunity.
WALLACE: He was never given immunity. That's not true, sir.
BLAGOJEVICH: Greenlee, the deputy governor, was given immunity. The other -- that's the one who said I hid in the bathroom from my budget director. How absurd is that?
WALLACE: I do not...
BLAGOJEVICH: The fact is he's afraid of me on the one hand. I have the power to fire somebody. I'm going to hide in the bathroom from somebody? The guy...
WALLACE: Did it happen?
BLAGOJEVICH: ... who said that was given immunity.
WALLACE: Did it happen or not, that you -- that he -- you...
BLAGOJEVICH: That did not happen. Of course it did not happen. Pardon me?
WALLACE: Did he have to go -- did he have to track you down to a bowling alley to get you to talk about 20 bills?
BLAGOJEVICH: No. I -- look, I -- look, when you're the governor, wherever you are, you're on the clock. There was one deputy governor who testified that he once had to go and get me to sign something or sign some bills when my little baby Annie was getting her first haircut.
It was a Saturday and I had him come over and bring the bills there. I was eager and happy to work on a Saturday, even when my daughter was getting her first haircut.
And you know, remember, in the fall of 2008, that's an election year, Chris. And you know how politics is. One of the things I was very scrupulous in making sure I did was to separate politics from government and keep any political activity as much as I could out of the governor's office. And so you work out of your campaign...
WALLACE: Yeah, but -- but...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... office or out of your home...
WALLACE: ... signing bills isn't out of...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... because you can do...
WALLACE: ... the governor's office.
BLAGOJEVICH: ... politics and government there.
WALLACE: Signing bills and...
BLAGOJEVICH: Pardon me?
WALLACE: ... dealing with the budget isn't out of the governor's office.
Let me move on, because you have made several points...
BLAGOJEVICH: You do...
WALLACE: ... today of saying in a retrial that you're going to call Rahm Emanuel, you're going to call Harry Reid. If this retrial is held during the fall, how damaging is this going to be for national Democrats?
BLAGOJEVICH: Look, I've said what this prosecutor is trying to do is politicize. It's criminalized politics, and he's selectively prosecuting me. I think there's some other motivations.
The Wall Street Journal has urged that he either resign or be fired because of this persecution of me. Scooter Libby and Conrad Black -- there's a bipartisan dynamic here. This is a -- there's a play book that these guys use.
WALLACE: But if may ask you to...
BLAGOJEVICH: And they try to get you...
WALLACE: ... answer my -- if you can answer any question, sir, how damaging will this be...
WALLACE: ... for Democrats if this whole trial, your whole problems, Rahm Emanuel, Harry Reid are all up involved with the Blagojevich case in the fall of this year?
BLAGOJEVICH: If they tell the truth, they've done nothing wrong and I've done nothing wrong. We talked about political horse-trading to varying degrees, depending on who I talked about.
And it's not at all unlike -- there are apparently, under published reports, a new federal judge who was made because the Obama administration was able to get a congressman to vote for his health care plan, or the idea of...
WALLACE: Wait, wait, wait.
BLAGOJEVICH: ... Senator...
WALLACE: You know, I looked at that case.
BLAGOJEVICH: ... the Senate candidate in Pennsylvania...
WALLACE: Governor, I looked at that case. First of all, the brother who was appointed a federal judge had been the dean of the Utah Law School and a U.S. attorney. And secondly, the congressman voted against health care reform. So that's a pretty lousy example.
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, it was a published report that said just the opposite. Mr. Sestak in Pennsylvania and the talk about giving him a position in the...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... government so he doesn't...
WALLACE: Wait. Wait a minute. Are you saying that you're...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... so he doesn't run for the Senate.
WALLACE: ... are you saying that you're -- are you saying, sir, that your ethics are no different than Rahm Emanuel's, your ethics are no different than Harry Reid's?
BLAGOJEVICH: I'm saying that -- yes, that -- yes, it's the same. It's political horse-trading that these prosecutors are trying to criminalize, and they weren't able to do it without us putting on a defense.
If we put on a defense and properly explain these things, I think the jury will see it for exactly what it is, political horse-trading. It was never about campaign funds. I never made a decision to do that.
The decision I made was to make a political deal. The attorney general of Illinois whose father was blocking the public works bill -- in exchange for appointing her to the Senate, I wanted those jobs created, 500,000 jobs, health care expansion, and a promise not to raise taxes.
Rahm Emanuel on the day before my arrest was going to be the guy to make that deal happen. I spoke to Harry Reid about this and Menendez. I spoke to them on the telephone about these things. They were willing to help. And it was about to happen. This prosecutor...
WALLACE: So you're -- you're guilty of nothing...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... knew it, and he came into my home and arrested me.
WALLACE: You're -- I want to make clear. You're saying you're guilty of nothing more than Harry Reid, Senator Menendez and Rahm Emanuel?
BLAGOJEVICH: That's exactly right. Absolutely right. And they did nothing wrong either. And they should be witnesses in the next trial. We're going try to call President Obama again. He did nothing wrong either. They can help prove my innocence and help vindicate me.
WALLACE: Let me ask you. You said the other day that after the feds arrested you that they pressured you to try to give information on higher-ups.
Now, you're the governor of Illinois. I can't imagine there was any higher up than Barack Obama, who had just been elected president of the United States. Why didn't you give evidence on him?
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, I'm going to have something to say maybe later on about that in terms of maybe possibly more specifics.
But let me say this. I'm not going to lie about people or do things to people -- what they've done to me, because I'm being squeezed and pressured by the powerful federal prosecutor who's looking for a political trophy.
I'm not going to sell people out and make things up and do to others what has been done to me. And what this fight is about is much bigger than just me. This is a system now that doesn't have a check and balance on these prosecutors.
This guy want after Scooter Libby, threw all kinds of things at him, and ultimately they got a conviction on perjury or false statements or whatever the case is. It's almost like there's a play book here and it's all about sort of getting a guy that's close to the real power so that maybe if they get him they can then get the next guy. And I think...
WALLACE: Well, wait a minute.
BLAGOJEVICH: ... ultimately, if the whole truth is given a chance to be heard, people will see this for exactly what it is.
WALLACE: You know, as you point out, you -- while your -- there was a hung jury on 23 of the -- of the counts. You were convicted of giving false statements to the FBI. You're going to appeal. But are you...
WALLACE: ... afraid of going to jail, sir?
BLAGOJEVICH: No, I'm not. Again, I still -- I trust in the truth. And I -- and I believe this has been -- this is a marathon. This is a very difficult thing when you're fighting these prosecutors with their power.
This has been almost two years. We've made tremendous strides from the very beginning to where we are now. You know, I'm much closer to proving my innocence and being vindicated. And this jury, you know, has helped me in a substantial step get to that point.
From five years ago, they took a conversation where I agreed voluntarily to cooperate with them. They would not allow a court reporter in there. And they took this -- and it was half a count, actually, because the first part of the statement the jury did not reach that same finding.
BLAGOJEVICH: But with regard to the second part, it was in the context of do I track fundraising and who gets state contracts. And I said I did not. And that's why they wanted to interview me. And we will appeal that, and I believe if -- you know, we have a very good chance to be successful at that.
I didn't lie to the FBI.
BLAGOJEVICH: And I'm not lying to you. And I'm not lying to the people.
WALLACE: Finally, Governor...
BLAGOJEVICH: Go ahead.
WALLACE: ... you said the other day that you don't rule out a political comeback. And you compared yourself to Winston Churchill. You can't be serious.
BLAGOJEVICH: I -- comparing myself to Winston Churchill, no. You're right, I'm not serious. I don't smoke cigars or scotch, and I think I can run faster than him.
But if you're asking me do I believe there's a potential political comeback in the future when I'm vindicated in this case, absolutely I do, because people will see that I was willing, all by myself almost, and my band of lawyers, who are working very hard and done a great job, to fight the power of the federal government and correct this imbalance.
There is something very dangerous in America today where you can have these prosecutors with that power and all the politicians are afraid of them. OK? When they can squeeze you and do the sorts of things that they've done to me...
WALLACE: Are you saying that if you get out from...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... and if we're successful here...
WALLACE: Are you saying if you get out from under this case that you'd like to run for office to try to effect some of the lessons that you've learned here?
BLAGOJEVICH: You know, Chris, when I was governor of Illinois, every child got access to health care under me. All our senior citizens take free public transportation. Pre-school for all 3- and 4-year-olds. I never raised taxes on the people.
My adult life was serving the people as a congressman, as a governor. It's what I know. I'm not very good on BlackBerries or computers or anything like that. It's why Donald Trump fired me on "Celebrity Apprentice."
But no, I -- I'm not ruling myself out as coming back, because I will be vindicated in this case. We're significantly closer to vindication now than I ever was.
They can twist things and take things out of context and play less than 2 percent of the tapes. The government can go and do everything it can to prevent the evidence they created from being heard.
But I challenge this prosecutor, release the tapes on December 8th, release the tapes and transcripts on December 8th, and December 7th, and December 6th, all the evidence on the days and weeks leading up to my arrest. And then you take a look at all of that and you tell me whether he was stopping a crime spree or whether he was stopping 500,000 jobs, health care for 300,000 people and a written promise by the...
BLAGOJEVICH: ... Democratic leaders who wanted to override my veto not to raise taxes on people.
WALLACE: Governor, we're going to have to leave it there. We want to thank you so much for coming in today and answering all our questions, sir.
BLAGOJEVICH: Thank you, Chris.
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