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*** UPDATED x1 *** Blagojevich: “Follow the money”

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*** UPDATE *** I’ve been busy with another story much of the afternoon, but all you really need to know about what happened at the trial since the lunch break is contained in this one Natasha Korecki post

Rod Blagojevich is livid and cannot contain the anger he’s reflecting as Lon Monk finally gets to the meat of his remarks: he puts Rod Blagojevich in the room when there was a discussion to divvy up hundreds of thousands of dollars made through state action.

Monk described a 2003 meeting in which Blagojevich, Monk, Tony Rezko and Chris Kelly are all in the room talking about how to make money off of state deals. He said one of Rezko’s ideas involved creating an insurance agency that would make money by getting business from the state. Blagojevich presumably would be sure he directed the control appropriately.

Monk says that Rezko led the discussion and on a blackboard puts up nine different ideas that would make each of them money. Each idea was worth about $100,000 he said.

What was the thrust of the meeting: “How the four of us could make money different ways.”

Who was going to make money off the deals?

“The four of us,” Monk said.

How was that money going to be divided? “Equally,” Monk said. “All told, hundreds of thousands of dollars … in total.”

In court, Blagojevich appears angry and is almost smiling at times, shakes his head and shoots glances at the prosecutor and Monk.

Monk said Blagojevich agreed not to take the money until after he was out of office.
“Because we didn’t want anyone to know what was going on,” Monk said. “There wouldn’t be as much scrutiny. … “In all liklihood (it was) wrong and we would be breaking the law.”

The exchange wasn’t lost on jurors; several of them were furiously taking notes during the questioning.


[ *** End of Update 1 ***]

* Rod Blagojevich spoke to reporters again this morning before his trial…

Echoing attorney Sam Adam Jr.’s opening statement yesterday, Blago then urged jurors and the press to “follow the money.”

“You will see that I didn’t take a dollar, I didn’t take a nickel, I didn’t take a penny I didn’t earn,” he said.

I think the money trail is pretty obvious. They washed it through his wife.


Blagojevich Arrives at Court, June 9, 2010 from Chicago News Cooperative on Vimeo.

* The first witness called by the prosecution today was an FBI agent

FBI agent Dan Cain says his office was secretly recording 10 different phones or places in the Rod Blagojevich probe. The recordings happened Oct. 22, 2008 through Dec. 9, 2008 — the day the ex-governor was arrested.

The recordings include two “bugs” and eight wiretaps of cell phones and desk phones — including Rod’s cell and home phones, Robert’s cell, John Harris’ cell and desk phone, Lon Monk’s cell, and bugs and wiretaps in Blago’s campaign office.

Cain says 5,000 calls were wire tapped and 1,100 of those are relevant to the case.


Under questioning from prosecutor Reid Schar, Cain said the investigation began when someone — he did not say who — came to the FBI and complained of being extorted involving appointments to an Illinois state board. That initially led to the Rezko conviction.

Cain said the investigation was ongoing when the FBI received more information from lobbyist John Wyma, another close Blagojevich associate, which led investigators to secure court orders to bug Blagojevich’s campaign office in Ravenswood as well as place wiretaps on Blagojevich’s home phone and cell phones.

* The Blago Report has an interesting take on yesterday’s opening statements…

There are a couple of major weaknesses in the government’s case. I think this is true no matter how much someone—perhaps with a well-informed opinion—believes Blagojevich is guilty as sin, and I have written about them before.

One of them is that many if not most of the crimes were not actually carried about because either the feds stepped in or his aide (or middleman in the prosecutor’s parlance) failed to carry out the alleged scheme, and this weakness was both inherent in Carrie Hamilton’s opening argument and exploited by Samuel Adam jr. in his opening argument.

There seems to be a disconnect in the dealings of what Hamilton called Blagojevich’s inner circle (Rezko, Kelly & Monk) and how the corrupt things they were doing were supposed to find their way back to him. I am not suggesting here that the government doesn’t have a theory about how that did happen, or that there wasn’t some kind of pipeline back to Blagojevich, but from the jury’s perspective, there was little for them to grasp, and I think they would be hard-pressed to understand what this inner-circle had to do with Blagojevich.

And by the same token, all of a sudden Stuart Levine pops in the story with little introduction or anything about how what Levine was doing had to do with Blagojevich.

Adam jr. gives Levine a little more play of course, but the use of Levine by the defense and his passive insertion in the prosecution’s presentation underscores another problem for the government. One of Adam’s lines is “Bernie Madoff Rezko got in touch with Bernie Madoff Levine.”

He also makes this very valid point…

A nearby press maven mentioned in passing that Adam jr.’s argument would only work if the jury was dumb, but I think comments like that are partially due to the press not being able to divorce themselves from the extra-legal knowledge they possess that the jury does not, and it is partially in contempt for the jury’s ability to understand the highlighting nature of theatrical devices, and it is partially an inability to appreciate what a defense attorney is actually trying to accomplish (and as misunderstandings go, attorneys are always good fodder as societal targets and the press is always eager to reflect this). The defense attorney is consciously trying to make an emotional appeal that registers the sensitivities inherent in the prosecution’s case on a deeper emotional level; they are attempting to plant strong images that the jurors will remember when the corresponding point comes up in trial; and they are attempting to forcefully underscore the weaknesses of the prosecution’s case. They are also trying to win the case for their side. On this last point, the opposition for a criminal defense lawyer in federal court is always the US government with all the powers and trappings that come with it. On this point, and to that end, the defense attorney is admittedly the everyman in the courtroom, using anger and emotional appeals to convince twelve ordinary citizens to do something that we have been socialized since the day we were born not to do: Go against the government of the United States of America.

* Zorn believes that Blagojevich’s attorney Sam Adam, Jr. won the day

In the battle between the teacher — Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton — and the preacher — the thunderous, histrionic Adam Jr., Rod’s attorney– the preacher came out way ahead.

Carrie-hamilton He was passionate, funny, engaging, kinetic and likable in contrast to the businesslike Hamilton (left). But that’s often how trials start, with the prosecution seeming cool and clinical, almost serene, and the defense seeming hot and indignant.

And while Adam Jr. was particularly good — exceeding even my high expectations for his performance — I’ve been in enough courtrooms to know that the score at the end of day one is no indication how the trial is going to turn out.

* Meanwhile, Susan Berger, who started out strong, is going native

Patti’s sister Debbie Mell here with her today. Just told me she loved my tweets. Just shook my hand [edited at author’s request] I am right behind them…

Robert Blagojevich just nodded to me on his way into courtroom…

Patti just kissed Rod…

Seated behind Patti Blag. Said to me “by the way, my husband shakes his leg cause he’s full of energy. Blagos r reading my blog


* Roundup…

* Prosecutor: Rod Blagojevich Planned Illegal Shakedowns

* Former Chief Of Staff To Take Stand In Blago Trial

* Marin: Patti on the stand is risky family business

* Schmich: Blagojevich trial: Keep an open mind through closing statements

* Southtown Star: Trial is about so much more than Blago

* Walter’s Perspective: Timing Of Blago Trial

posted by Rich Miller
Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 10:55 am


  1. You want to follow the money?

    Comment by PFK Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 11:03 am

  2. Blago charges include conspiracy which does not require the completion of the actual crime the parties conspired to commit.

    Comment by DeKalb Dragon Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 11:21 am

  3. Blago’s accused of some pretty bad stuff. I don’t know if any of it’s as bad as Bill Brady directly voting on bills as a senator to enrich himself, but it’s pretty bad.

    Comment by just sayin' Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 11:29 am

  4. The Blago Report blog to me blew its credibility with its references to “O’Hara” airport and “Chicago University” Law School.

    Comment by Rarely Posts Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 11:31 am

  5. Just out of curiosity, is the “endemic hiring fraud” part of the G’s case against Blago?

    Comment by Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 11:32 am

  6. So this is there defense. Blago was a State Rep., U.S. Congressman and Governor but he was too stupid to know what was happening with the people closest to him in his administration ? This Bozo is sitting there shaking his head yes I am that stupid.

    Comment by Windy City Mama Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 11:32 am

  7. –Hamilton said convicted Blagojevich fund-raiser Tony Rezko “paid defendant Blagojevich’s wife $150,000 in 2003 and 2004. . . . Twelve thousand dollars a month in a consulting deal. . . . Paid for deals she never worked on.”–

    If you’re on the jury, it begs the question, why isn’t she indicted?

    Comment by wordslinger Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 11:33 am

  8. Sorry, another mistake.

    So this is their defense.

    Comment by Windy City Mama Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 11:36 am

  9. Walter’s perspective is way out of whack. He’s worried the trial will hurt the Dems in November. My perspective is “too bad” — and by the way, there were plenty of GOPers playing ball with Blago, starting with stalwarts Cellini and Big Bob K.

    Comment by wordslinger Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 11:41 am

  10. This is what we have been waiting for, a trial. Lets see the evidence and what the Jury decides, then the truth will be told.

    Comment by Dan S, a taxpayer and a Cubs Fan Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 11:44 am

  11. I agree it’s not a slam dunk case since the FBI stopped a lot of this before more cash got to Rod. But I still think there’s enough evidence for a conviction based on the proffer.

    And the tell for me was Adam lying in his opening statement. If you start off with a lie, how good can the rest of the defense be? Who will be called by the defense to testify? I can’t think of anyone Adam can call that can dispute the testimony or other evidence that is going to be presented by the prosecution.

    Not even Adam can explain away enough of the facts to prevent a conviction. He’s good, but he’s not that good and he doesn’t have much to work with.

    Comment by 47th Ward Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 11:52 am

  12. Does campaign contributions not count as money?

    Comment by Ahoy Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 11:52 am

  13. Gee, Walter Jacobson doesn’t seem to care like the rest of us about any truths during the Blagojevich trial. He is in a huff because the trial might cause Democrats to lose in November. Where are his priorities?

    Would he complain if the Governor had emergency surgery on Halloween, that the Governor was just trying to win the election with sympathy votes?

    Not everything is about politics, Walter. Your ideological values in the Democratic Party are not a basis for you to stop a Federal trial of the most corrupted governor in Illinois history. It would be only fair to treat this governor as well as we treated the last one. There is no other way, except to play even more politics with it, in order to satisfy your bias.

    And Walter, if you are so worried about what effect the Blagojevich trial might have on Democrats in Illinois, then you better be prepared for a tsunami of voter fury if Blagojevich is found not guilty.

    Finally, your opinion that it isn’t fair to Quinn that Blagojevich is facing trial today, fails to take into consideration the role Pat Quinn had played in the Blagojevich Administration since 2002’s election. It was Pat Quinn’s goo-goo credentials that helped a lot of us swallow our gut instincts and vote for Blagojevich to begin with. We couldn’t have imagined that our dear little Pat would sell his political soul to Blagojevich if Blagojevich was corrupt. So, whatever happens to Blagojevich, should reflect on Governor Quinn.

    Comment by VanillaMan Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 11:56 am

  14. So my wife goes “Wasn’t Blago the guy on Trump’s TV show who could not turn on a computer. Now he is sending tweets from court? Right.”

    Comment by zatoichi Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 11:56 am

  15. I’m actually a bit surprised there are no RICO charges in the Fed’s case.

    Comment by Cincinnatus Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 12:11 pm

  16. When the “endemic hiring fraud” box finally gets opened—it’ll put the fumes in fumigate.

    Comment by Way Way Down Here Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 12:11 pm

  17. There was no exclamation point (!) after I posted that debbie Mell shook my hand. That changes the context hadly going native mell approached me please correct

    Comment by susan berger Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 12:15 pm

  18. You’re right, Susan. I mistook a “l” for a “!”. It’s corrected, but the meaning still stands overall.

    Comment by Rich Miller Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 12:18 pm

  19. I have always wondered why the feds haven’t charged Patti. My sense is she is guilty of the money laundering.

    Comment by Objective Dem Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 12:30 pm

  20. Counts One and Two are RICO counts. And somebody should educate Jacobson that the Judge sets the trial date, not the US Attorney.

    Comment by Expol Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 12:41 pm

  21. Feds were perhaps afraid of jury sympathy for Patti. Figure they’ll get around to her after they put Rod away, using facts from his conviction as the lever.

    Comment by Gregor Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 12:41 pm

  22. The Blago report touches this more ciritical concept a bit, but skims past it. The Defense is not trying to win the case in the sense ofpoving Rod innocent. The defense is trying to inteject just enough doubt into the case that the jury finds the government did not meet its high burden.

    Comment by Ghost Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 1:06 pm

  23. Wordslinger

    Yes I saw Walter Jacobsen’s perspective last night, he sounded quite upset with the US Attorney (Fitzgerald) he just called him the US Attorney, and accused him of messing with Illinois elections, and controlling the election.
    Somehow, or somewhere Walter got a beef with the US Attorney.

    On this mornings early news (6:15am) they showed both Rod and Patti getting into a 2 door red little car. Rod was talking to the reporters and after Patti climbed in the back seat, Rod pushed the passenger seat back and got in. That person with the little red car (looked like an older Chevy Cobalt) must have driven them to the law office where they got a ride in the Attorney’s vehicle.

    Comment by Third Generation Chicago Native Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 1:27 pm

  24. zatoichi

    You have a point, he could not use a computer or type. Was that all an act?

    Comment by Third Generation Chicago Native Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 1:30 pm

  25. After living through his years in the governor’s office, and watching him bankrupt himself and Illinois, I am supposed to listen to Blagojevich when he tells me to follow the money?

    Like he knows how to?

    Comment by VanillaMan Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 1:55 pm

  26. Follow the money???
    To bad TIME Magazine doesn’t have “Idiot of the Year”.
    Blago would win hands down.

    Comment by Northside Bunker Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 2:15 pm

  27. I am going to listen carefully to RB when he says to follow the money. As a matter of fact, I have been doing so ever since he was reported as being curled up on his floor.

    The money started in my pocket and somehow ended up in Patti’s purse. We are about to learn more about the path from our pockets to theirs. We will be watching closely, RB. We are counting on the good folk of the jury to do that as well. Once the story is told you will receive justice. You had better get prepared for what follows that.

    Comment by dupage dan Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 3:16 pm

  28. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 3:16 pm:
    Follow the money!
    Don’t forget about the checks and cash to daughters.

    Comment by Wacker Drive Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 3:52 pm

  29. The T-R-U-T-H is starting come out the “little box” and “Rod Blagojevich is livid and cannot contain the anger.”
    Don’t love it when plan comes together.

    Comment by deluxe Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 4:19 pm

  30. As I mentioned yesterday, that whole no money thing is a bad idea with monk poised (or actually saying now) that the plan was for Rod to get his payoff when he left office. Not to mention as Rich pointedf out that some money was funnedled to blago through patti as well].

    That whole I got nothing just turned to a terd in Blago’s mouth.

    Blago cant resist the stand, Rod testifying will go down in legal texts as the historic warning of why you should avoid putting criminal defendnets on the stand.

    Comment by Ghost Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 4:24 pm

  31. Rod is sitting just steps away from his best friend, who is laying it all out for the jury. Monk’s testimony is devastating. He puts Rod in the room with Rezko. 1-2-3-4 co-conspirators, openly brainstorming about how best to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars using the state.

    I can’t wait for Adam to dispute the facts. I expect instead he’ll go for Monk’s jugular, but that ain’t going to change the facts.

    Comment by 47th Ward Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 4:25 pm

  32. ==but that ain’t going to change the facts==

    What are the facts anyway? Blago is poor. Blago needed the money. In 2008 he was $200,000 in the hole. So, in 2002 or 2003 he conspired to steal hundreds of thousands. These facts are mighty confusing.

    Hence the trial, to determine the facts.

    Comment by GetOverIt Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 4:39 pm

  33. ===These facts are mighty confusing. ===

    Actually, Monk testified today that Blagojevich complained about his finances back in 2003.

    Comment by Rich Miller Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 4:46 pm

  34. Click here for more on his finances in 2003.

    Comment by Rich Miller Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 4:51 pm

  35. According to Monk’s testimony, GOI, here are some facts:

    -Rod, Tony, Chris and Lon met to plot ways to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars by leveraging the official duties of the governor.

    -They agreed to share the proceeds equally, after Rod left office.

    -Campaign contributions were one means to collect funds that could later be divided between them.

    -Official state decisions were made with an eye toward improving fundraising.

    -They knew it was illegal.

    -They knew they had to keep it secret.

    Adam is going to have to prove Monk is lying. Who is he going to call to refute Monk’s testimony? Rezko? Doubtful. Rod? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

    It really isn’t too confusing at all. Monk is walking the jury through every step of the conspiracy. Unless Adam can destroy Monk on cross examination, his sworn testimony is presented as “fact” to the jury.

    Comment by 47th Ward Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 5:01 pm

  36. Can’t make ends meet on $160,000 per year.
    + Governor’s perks
    WOW! Guess they’re not shopping at Walmart or Aldi
    If Rod Rod and Patti were having financial difficulty why did they remodel their home?

    Comment by Kendall County Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 5:05 pm

  37. Sam Adams Jr. would have been better with his opening by letting a kitten walk across the courtroom and say “Hey look there’s a kitty” and watch Rod’s reaction or simply put his ability to be easily distracted by reality. Just sayin’!

    Comment by Macoupin Observer Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 9:13 pm

  38. If I am Sam Adam, I’m not too worried about Lon’s story so far. The argument makes itself: if what Lon says is true, why hasn’t the government brought forth the other guys who were supposedly in the room when the plot was hatched? Lon says it happened; Rod says it didn’t; the feds can’t produce corroboration from the other people in the room. Why not? Because it never happened. Lon will make up anything to save his hide. Add the burden of proof and the standard of proof the the government must meet, and the jury concludes, ‘well, it might have happened, but they didn’t prove that it happened. If it did happen, they woild have brought forth the two other guys who were supposedly in the room. Point goes to Blago on this one.

    Comment by chicago publiuis Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 10:04 pm

  39. CP,

    Chris Kelly is dead and Tony Rezko is in federal custody awaiting sentencing on his previous conviction. You’re clearly not Sam Adam, but if you were, you’d be worried about Monk’s testimony. You’d be even more worried about all of the tapes that corobborates Monk’s testimony.

    Try again.

    Comment by 47th Ward Wednesday, Jun 9, 10 @ 11:05 pm

  40. Blago and his team are using the ‘we were just clowning-around’ defense. I thought it was hysterical! The “we’re just a bunch of clowns” defense. LOL I would give Blago & his circus act clown hats and have them sing Cole Porter’s “Be A Clown”.

    youtube of the Marx Brothers clowning around.

    Maybe Gregor and V-Man could apply their talent to this!

    Be a clown, be a clown,
    All the world loves a clown.
    Be a poor silly ass
    And you’ll always travel first-class,
    Give ‘em quips, give ‘em fun,
    And they’ll pay to say you’re A-1.
    If you become a farmer, you’ve the weather to buck,
    If you become a gambler, you’ll be stuck with your luck,
    But jack you’ll never lack if you can quack like a duck
    (Quack, quack, quack, quack)
    Be a clown, be a clown, be a clown.

    Comment by HatShopGirl Thursday, Jun 10, 10 @ 12:25 am

  41. Rich, for some reason, the youtube copy & paste did not work. :(

    Comment by HatShopGirl Thursday, Jun 10, 10 @ 12:27 am

  42. 47th Ward:

    You write, “Adam is going to have to prove Monk is lying.” You also write, “Chris Kelly is dead and Tony Rezko is in federal custody awaiting sentencing on his previous conviction.”

    But you have it wrong. Adam doesn’t have to prove anything. He only has to convince the court that the Government has not proven Lon’s story beyond a reasonable doubt.

    If you’re on the jury, the fact that Kelly is dead or that Rezko in in jail doesn’t explain why the Government doesn’t introduce their testimony to corroborate Lon’s story. It’s a question of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

    Because Chris Kelly is dead, the feds may introduce anything he said to corroborate the so-called conspiracy. But they can’t, because no such corroboration exists.

    The fact that Rezko is in jail doesn’t mean that the feds can’t put him on the stand to corroborate the so-called conspiracy. But they won’t.

    So Sam Adam can easily make this argument: Where’s the evidence of the conspiracy that Lon talked about? Where is the evidence from Kelly and Rezko? The Government hasn’t introduced any. And do you know why the Government hasn’t introduced corroboration from the other people who were supposedly hatching this so-called scheme? They haven’t introduced it because it doesn’t exist. So now it’s Lon’s word against Rod’s. Do you really think that Lon’s word is proof beyond a reasonable doubt? Why, he’s the guy who is prepared to say anything to save his own skin.

    I might not be Sam Adam, but I’m able to distinguish between the evidence that is in court and the evidence that is not in court. And if you knew anything about criminal defense, you would know that the most compelling evidence before the jury is most often the evidence that isn’t there.

    Comment by chicago publius Thursday, Jun 10, 10 @ 8:41 am

  43. cp,

    One major flaw in your argument: for it to be the word of Monk v the word of Blago, Rod has to take the stand. Isn’t gonna happen. Not to mention, Monk is far from the state’s only evidence. Take Monk’s set up, and fast forward to the tapes. The tapes show how this conspiracy was executed in a pretty package.

    Comment by South Side Mike Thursday, Jun 10, 10 @ 9:55 am

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