In a two-minute, blustery address, a finger-waving former Gov. Rod Blagojevich summoned U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to show up in the federal courthouse today at high noon.
“I challenge Mr. Fitzgerald. Why don’t you show up in court [Wednesday] and explain to everybody, say to the whole world, why you don’t want those tapes that you made played in court,” Blagojevich said at a news conference. “I’ll be in court tomorrow, I hope you’re man enough to be there tomorrow, too.”
Blagojevich accused the government of trying to sneak into court to try to block the ex-governor from playing all the recordings in trial. There is a previously scheduled court status date in Blagojevich’s case at noon today and the prosecutors trying the case — not Fitzgerald — are expected to show.
Blagojevich, wearing a bit of makeup, scheduled his remarks for 5:03 p.m. — just in time for three TV networks to carry it live. He called prosecutors “cowards” and “liars” and then took no questions from reporters.
Blagojevich was speaking loudly and clearly: to potential jurors, said former federal prosecutor and defense lawyer Dean Polales.
It’s unclear how the tactic will play out in court just six weeks before Blagojevich’s trial is set to begin, but as an exercise in media manipulation, it worked spectacularly. Nearly a dozen news cameras were on hand to hear Blagojevich lay on the mustard, and several TV stations aired the remarks — scheduled for precisely 5:03 p.m. for their benefit — live on their evening newscasts.
He spoke for just two minutes, then took no questions.
Blagojevich and his defense team have long aggressively gotten the former governor’s version of events to the public. On recent appearances on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” he repeatedly trumpeted his innocence to a national audience.
The ex-governor’s Florida-based publicist had hyped Tuesday’s media event by promising that Blagojevich “will make the strongest public statement to date concerning the charges he is facing.”
And the former politician seemed to deliver, calling prosecutors “cowards and liars” for “attacking” his wife, Patti, by alleging she was used corruptly to get the governor money through bogus real estate commissions.
While Rod Blagojevich’s strategy of going on the offensive and playing the victim could appeal to some, former assistant U.S. attorney Patrick Collins, who helped convict former governor George Ryan warned it could backfire.
“What he said tonight with the name calling and personal invective directed at Fitzgerald,” Collins said. “I would be shocked that the judge doesn’t have something to say about that in court.” […]
“Sometimes the best defense is a good offense,” said Collins.
Collins says Blagojevich’s statement is consistent with his strategy so far — go on the offensive and play the victim.
Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich says he’ll be in court for his scheduled hearing today and he’s challenging the top federal prosecutor in Chicago to also show up.
Today’s court hearing isn’t anything more than going over some procedures and recent filings to get ready for Blagojevich’s corruption trial in June. Those recent filings include what’s called a Santiago proffer, which included an entire section titled “Steering Money to Blagojevich’s Wife.”
So does Fitz take the bait? If not today, will Rod do this once a week? Every day? Eventually one must fight back when Rod gets out there and hits one publicly, right? Isnt that what the Speaker found out? Didnt Rod’s repeated bashing of the Speaker during the overtime cause the normally reclusive Speaker to do a flyaround to trumpet the budget and miss the opening day of the Democratic National Convention?
This is getting interesting. If Fitz engages, it will work to blago’s favor. If he doesnt, it works to blagos favor. I think Fitz will need to engage if there is any sense that blago’s claims are getting any sort of positive reception with the public.
- Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, Apr 21, 10 @ 8:45 am:
We’re both part of the same hypocrisy, prosecutor, but never think it applies to my family.
I suspect that Fitzgerald will have to call Blagojevich’s bluff. There will be hour after hour of dull recordings to play back, but there is probably nothing close to “a smoking gun” on the tapes. If something exculpatory was on the tapes, the prosecutor would be obliged to disclose its existence.
This is simply another grandstand play by Blagojevich to influence prospective jurors that he is being framed. It is going to be ugly until this trial over. Illinois made a huge mistake by permitting such a juvenile to occupy the Governor’s Mansion.
- Louis G. Atsaves - Wednesday, Apr 21, 10 @ 9:01 am:
Makes you wonder sometimes. If he had “shown up in court” during his impeachment hearings with that belligerent attitude, would he still be governor today? Would the panel and later the Senate, fainted in fear of the wrath of Blagojevich?
This is a guy backed into a corner. He’s trying to taint the jury pool. All he needs is one sympathetic hold-out hell-bent on jury nullification.
Although that being said, I am sympathetic to the “release all the tapes” schtick. I don’t think it will prove Blago innocent at all. Rather, I think it will show a lot more folks as guilty as heck. But for whatever reason, the Feds haven’t elected to charge others yet. Maybe shaky evidence–who knows?
Perhaps Blago really thinks he’s innocent. If he does, I’d chalk it up to him being surrounded to this type of stuff ALL the time and therefore rationalizing away the behavior. I suspect what happened was that the powers-that-be got sick of his ego and decided to feed him to the Feds.
One thing’s for sure: he knows drama.
- One of the 35 - Wednesday, Apr 21, 10 @ 9:15 am:
The entire presentation was irrelevant. If you get pulled over for speeding, it is not a valid defense to argue that you don’t speed most of the time or that others also speed.
Isn’t odd/funny that no one I mean no one has come out in defense or stood by Blagojevich’s side ever since he was arrested.
Where Dick Mell?
Where’s wife Patti?
Where’s the rest of the clan?
Where are all the political leaders Obama, Daley, Rahm, Emil Jones, Jesse Jackson Jr. etc.?
What could possibly be exculpatory in the rest of the tapes? How does RB unring the bell on the stuff already released unless the other 500 hours is RB saying, “just kidding”.
I do worry that Fitzgerald is not just fighting to bring the evidence out but is also fighting public perception. Jury nullification could be a real problem here what with all these RB supporters out there who would not only love to vote innocent but would love to see RB back in office working his magic on Illinois. Bill……?
I doubt if all tapes will be played because they probably implicate alot of people in WashDC and that would really mess things up, right?! The people who voted these jamokes in and still believe in them, have not a clue—until it’s too late, and we are getting to that point.
I’m not a lawyer either, but this is my understanding: Of the hundreds of hours of tapes, most are meaningless. A few contain evidence that supports Fitzgerald’s case. The prosecution will play those tapes. The prosecution is not obligated to play all of them, only the ones they wish to put into evidence in support of the charges.
All of the tapes are in the hands of Rod’s defense lawyers. They know exactly what Fitzgerald knows as far as the tapes. But for the defense to get them introduced, they need to corroborate the discussion, so someone on the tapes the defense introduces will have to testify. In most cases, that would be Rod, telling the jury what the conversation was about. It could also be someone else Rod was talking to that corroborates the tape, but most likely it will need to be Rod himself (or Rob, but I’m leaving that out for now).
If Rod takes the stand, he can be cross-examined by the prosecution. So the reality is, all of the tapes can be played but only if the defense introduces them and only if Rod takes the stand.
I’ll say it again, that is not going to happen. Robert Blagojevich will probably testify about the tapes that incriminate him, but despite his protestations, Rod isn’t going to want to sit in the witness chair, swear on a bible, and have the feds take him apart in front of a jury. The feds will tear to shreds and the defense knows this.
So when all is said and done, and Rod is convicted, he’ll say he begged his lawyers to let him testify, he’ll say he was railroaded, he’ll say that if all of the tapes were played, we’d know the truth, etc.
It’s all for show people. And last night was some bad TV.
Blago looks to be in fine form. While one can quible with his approach, nobody can deny that the FEDS stood by for 6 years while Blago was on a ‘crime spree”. The more I learn about this case the clear it becomes that the FED’s methods need to be investigated and curbed.
Who do these people think they are - THE SS?
Has anyone bothered to FIO the FEDS to see how much money they have spent trying to convict Blago? The number must be staggering.
Blago and Sam Adams are the kind of people that founded this county - ture patriots and loverres of freedom.
47th Ward has clarified. RB & company already have all the tapes. They are free to enter any portion of the tapes or all of it, providing they lay the foundation for the evidence. Who is going to testify to what is being said. Unindicted individuals? No. Only those who are compelled. I suppose it is possible RB could summonse those whose voices are heard. In the end, RB would have to testify. Even I don’t think he will do that despite the fact that it is clear RB will do the most bizarre things. He didn’t testify at his impeachment trial, he did a summation. I suspect he will do that but won’t be subject to cross examination. Let’s see his best Clarence Darrow closing arguement. I can’t wait.
I wonder, since they have all the tapes, can’t they just create a website and post all the hundreds of hours on the tapes? C’mon, Rod, play the tapes, play the tapes, play the tapes.
If there is exculpatory evidence in the tapes Blago and his attorneys have access to all of them and should play those parts that favor his case as part of their defense. This whole tape argument is a red-herring designed solely to take the focus off of Blago’s guilt. Releasing every minute of every tape is a waste of everyone’s time and money. Perhaps he is hoping that he can bore the jury to death!
Hey, Sam Adams did found this country- DUH! And he makes great beer too.
How does one get picked for this jury? Can someone hook Bakersfield up? Do they offer spots on Stub Hub? If I asked nicely could I get picked? Please, I need to be a part of this jury- I promise not to laugh hysterically more than 90% of the time.