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Kind of a “ho-hum” day on the witness stand

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

* There was much drama and wringing of hands over Rod Blagojevich’s reported decision to call some high profile witnesses to the stand in his own defense. The AP, for instance, ran a story entitled “Blago witnesses may be too risky“…

In deciding whether to call Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel or other big names to testify, attorneys for ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich have treaded carefully because they know that such high-profile witnesses can backfire. […]

Among the names tossed around as possible defense witnesses is also U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Both he and Emanuel have been under subpoena in the case since before Blagojevich’s first trial last year.

“All these witnesses can end up hurting you far more than they can help,” said Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago. “They’re land mines. You’ve got to be really, really careful.”

* So, the federal courthouse attracted a large crowd this morning

After weeks of crowds far smaller than during Blagojevich’s first trial last year, there was a crush of people trying to get into the downtown Chicago courthouse Wednesday morning.

Long lines with dozens of people waiting to get in snaked through the lobby. Many people asked reporters if anyone had seen Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who’s expected to be called to testify.

* But spectators may have been disappointed. Congressman Jackson was on the stand for about 20 minutes today

Under oath, Jackson says “No I did not” direct or order anyone to offer Rod Blagojevich fund-raising in exchange for appointing him senator.

“I never directed anyone to raise money for another politician in my life, other than myself, in 16 years,” Jackson testified.

* The only thing of real interest from Jackson’s time on the stand

Jackson sported an angry, vengeful look when he repeatedly snapped his fingers, mocking Rod Blagojevich’s Elvis routine.

Blagojevich flushed, shaking his head, looking amazed. He smiled slightly, shaking his head. He looks uncomfortable, shifting in his chair, mouth agape.

More on that topic

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. says his wife didn’t get a promised appointment to head the Illinois lottery after Jackson refused to give former Gov. Rod Blagojevich a $25,000 campaign donation.

Prosecutors have used Jackson’s testimony at Blagojevich’s retrial on corruption charges to demonstrate that the former governor was not above exchanging jobs for campaign cash.

Jackson said under cross-examination Wednesday that he met with Blagojevich in 2003 after someone else was appointed to the lottery job. Jackson says Blagojevich snapped his fingers and said, “You should have given me that $25,000.”

Jackson says Blagojevich made the comment while mimicking his idol Elvis’ voice. And Jackson himself put on a low, Elvis-like voice as he explained the conversation with Blagojevich.

* Mayor Emanuel’s testimony wasn’t all that enlightening, either, and even more brief

After testifying that no one ever asked him for anything in exchange for his request to get Valerie Jarrett appointed senator, Emanuel was dismissed as a witness. Prosecutors asked no questions.

* He did have one funny moment

Defense lawyer Sheldon Sorosky asked Mayor Rahm Emanuel if his job title of “Mayor of Chicago” was recent.

“Unless your subscription to the newspapers ended recently, yes,” Emanuel said to laughter.

* The defense team then filed a motion for acquittal

“The government has established through its case-in-chief that the purported conversations to which its witnesses testified amount to nothing more than ‘hot air,’” defense lawyers state in the motion.

The filing adds that the “parade of government witnesses” didn’t prove any crime and that “ideas bounced around” in wiretaps were just that — ideas..

“…The very most that could be found is that the government may have put in evidence of an attempt to attempt,” the filing stated. “That is not a crime.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        


13 Comments
  1. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 25, 11 @ 2:10 pm:

    Phil Turner was right.

    The jury will remember that Jackson and Blago were enemies, and that Blago wanted cash from Jackson to appoint his wife. That sure doesn’t help Blago’s argument that he was considering appointing Jackson on the merits.

    Eric Zorn predicts Blago’s lawyers will, once again, say he doesn’t need to take the stand. I hope that’s not true. Reid Schar would have so much fun with Blago. There would be nothing left but the hair.


  2. - Meanderthal - Wednesday, May 25, 11 @ 2:18 pm:

    If Jesse Jr. believed way back then that Rod was shaking him down and he didn’t say anything and let Rod continue to do what he did and get reelected, then Jesse Jr. deserves whatever ill fate has befallen him in all this and more.


  3. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, May 25, 11 @ 2:23 pm:

    Jackson’s testimony, according to the Tribune, includes this exchange:

    “Did you ever tell the governor you would raise money, fundraising if you got the Senate seat?” Goldstein asked.

    “No sir, I never did,” Jackson continued. “…I never directed anyone to raise money for another politician in my life.”

    This is minor, but I found it odd that Jackson would add the last part. He never raised money for his wife? He didn’t raise money for Sen. Meeks? He didn’t raise any money for any other politician in his life? Really? Under oath?

    Dude, you’re in federal court. Don’t add anything, just answer yes or no.


  4. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 25, 11 @ 3:04 pm:

    Both Emmanuel and Jackson both testified they did nothing wrong, and the jury might logically infer, then neither did the Governor. I thought the cross examination should have been stronger asking them at least if they felt pressured by Blago’s attempts to solicit contributions. It just seems they testifies it was politics as usual, which is essentially Blago’s defense.


  5. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 25, 11 @ 3:23 pm:

    47, I guess Trips couldn’t contain himself. He must have been bursting to talk about all that undercover work he was doing before Blago got pinched. And no one asked!

    The snapping fingers and staredown would have been pretty cool to see, though.

    Geez, what’s Fox News and Drudge going to do with this breathtaking Emanuel testimony? Obviously, it’s all a part of a much bigger conspiracy.

    Fox needs to bring back Scully and Mulder on the case. Is the defense going to call the Cigarette-Smoking Man? The truth is out there, still.


  6. - Pauly - Wednesday, May 25, 11 @ 3:54 pm:

    Rod won’t testify. He’ll be chewed up and spit out by the prosecution.
    This has all be a Blagojevich ruse from the very start!


  7. - SR - Wednesday, May 25, 11 @ 5:38 pm:

    =====If Jesse Jr. believed way back then that Rod was shaking him down and he didn’t say anything and let Rod continue to do what he did and get reelected, then Jesse Jr. deserves whatever ill fate has befallen him in all this and more.=====

    Wasn’t it reported that Jackson went to the D.A.’s office with the information about Blago making that comment to him about the $25K, but they did not act on it?

    ===Geez, what’s Fox News and Drudge going to do with this breathtaking Emanuel testimony? Obviously, it’s all a part of a much bigger conspiracy.

    There’s a job waiting for Rod in the Emanuel administration as soon as he springs from prison. Same with Rezko. And President Obama, because you know he will be needing a job in 2012. I read it all on Drudge. ;)


  8. - Jim - Wednesday, May 25, 11 @ 5:52 pm:

    I am with Zorn, Blago will not testify but unfortunately this will not end his pontificating.


  9. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 25, 11 @ 8:05 pm:

    Jesse Jr. delivered a devastating blow to Blago. He went in there to hurt Blago and got the job done.
    I guess we’ll see if Blago has ever had any real testicular virility ?


  10. - Next please - Wednesday, May 25, 11 @ 10:26 pm:

    Atticus Finch would have never represented Rod Blagojevich!
    Tomorrows headlines read “Rod Really Never Had Any Testicular Virility After All”


  11. - Gregor - Wednesday, May 25, 11 @ 10:58 pm:

    I think a lot of people conveniently forget what an effort Threejay went to, actively campaigning for that seat, even drawing some federal attention for potential misuse of his office in some communications. sure, Rod is a heel, but Tripps dangled himself out there in an active way.


  12. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 25, 11 @ 11:03 pm:

    To put on a witness that you know harbors a substantial grudge against your client borders on malpractice. An incredibly amateurish move.


  13. - Anon - Thursday, May 26, 11 @ 3:32 am:

    Then call it as a hostile witness?


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