* 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.”