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The prosecution’s rebuttal

Thursday, Jan 29, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 1:02 pm - As mentioned below, the governor was not sworn in before he gave his closing argument, so that will likely be mentioned by the House prosecutor.

Blagojevich did speak about the US Senate seat and the racetrack allegations, but conveniently left out the very damning evidence about how he held up $8 million for a pediatrict hospital program in exchange for a rather large campaign contribution.

We’ll see how the rebuttal goes, but those would be things I would mention, including the other point I wrote about below: A great speech, but he asked members to trust his word that he didn’t do anything illegal, nor intended to do anything illegal. His word is not exactly golden in this town.

* Prosecutor David Ellis:
“I can’t give a speech like the governor… When the cameras are on and he thinks people are listening, the governor can give a pretty good speech. But I want to talk about Rod Blagojevich when he’s off camera and he doesn’t think people are listening.”

When the camera’s on he wants healthcare, particularly for children. When the camera’s off, I’m going to hit him for 50. “We can pull it back if we need to, right? Budgetary concerns” That’s Rod Blagojevich when he’s not on camera.

Our case is not built on what other people did after the governor directed them to do things…. Our point was on the governor’s words…. The governor himself. He could have put himself under oath and faced my questions, and more importantly your questions. He wouldn’t put himself under oath.

He simply says there’s no evidence and walked off the stage. No evidence. 60 recorded conversations by the federal government.

Federal agent was put under oath and swore that those tapes are true. Unrefuted testimony. 60 different conversations where the governor is using his powers as a chit for personal gain.

As always, the governor plays by the rules that he chooses.

Under the governor’s rules, he talks, you listen, no questions.

Everybody in this room is taking this seriously, nobody is taking this casually.

Why do we have impeachment? We have it to protect the citizens. It’s not about punishment. The governor talks about the impact on him.

He doesn’t think for one minute about the people. He just thinks about himself. He does not have a constitutional right to govern. And that’s what the governor doesn’t understand Being governor is not a right, it’s a privilege.

I think the people of this state have had enough. They’re looking to you now and they want to know: Is today going to be more of the same?


* Caucus for one hour. Come back then and we’ll have the deliberation, followed by the vote.

* Personally, I thought Ellis did a very good job. He hit all the right points, and perfectly focused much of his rebuttal on the governor’s self-obsession. The “when the camera’s off” lines were spot on.


Not that it matters. But a great job.


  1. - Vote Quimby! - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:07 pm:

    Not near 30 minutes, he said. Different Blago when the cameras are on and off.

  2. - recover82 - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:10 pm:

    Call the cleaners and get the sheets changed for Quinn at the Guv’s mansion already.

  3. - Vote Quimby! - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:10 pm:

    Slam at the media tour….wgn video feed switched to a helicopter pilot…

  4. - Been There - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:11 pm:

    I think Ellis and the Governor are wearing the same tie.

  5. - Scooby - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:11 pm:

    In an ode to Blagojevich, Chicagoist has posted a You Tube of Steam performing Na Na, Hey Hey and speaking as a Sox fan that is the ugliest group of people ever assembled.

    Ellis impresses.

  6. - bmrnp - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:12 pm:

    Yes, Ellis go go go go!!! He is fired up!! I love it.

  7. - Drew Blagojevich - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:13 pm:

    Lisa as Governor, Ellis as AG?

  8. - 4 percent - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:13 pm:

    Only 1 question left…who is #40.

    Alphabetically, John Millner wins.

    By district, Toi Hutchinson wins.

    My best is the Senate Dems give a big vote to a new freshman.

  9. - DB - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:14 pm:

    “He does not have a Constitutional right to be Governor”. Damn straight!

  10. - Nearly Normal - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:14 pm:

    Being governor is not a right it is a privilege and he does not deserve that privilege.

  11. - HoBoSkillet - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:14 pm:

    Ellis is nailing it!! I’m impressed.

  12. - Princess - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:15 pm:

    well that was short and sweet.

  13. - Johnny Cochrane - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:15 pm:

    Ellis is awful. His style works well for reading transcripts, but he’s not going on the public speaking circuit anytime soon. This trial can’t close soon enough.

  14. - OneMan - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:16 pm:

    David Ellis rocks, time to go buy his book.

  15. - 40 - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:16 pm:

    Remember to take out Cullerton when you count to 40. He votes at the end.

    So it is whoever is 41 alphabetically.

  16. - Been There - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:18 pm:

    Blagojevich gave the speech of of life. But the short, simple and to the point rebuttal will have us saying former governor in a few hours. Ellis did a great job. Definitely look for him to be in play for some office in the near future.

  17. - Fan of the Game - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:18 pm:

    It really was short and sweet. Wow!

  18. - Deep South - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:19 pm:

    So are we in the deliberation phase at this time? Or is that still to come?

  19. - Vote Quimby! - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:20 pm:

    ==Ellis is awful.==

    I dunno–he sold me! Not quite the flair of ‘the glove don’t fit you must acquit’ but a good rebuttal of the governor’s final public performance—it was a performance— as governor. He knew every Senator was aware of the public vs. private personna of our soon-to-be-ex-governor….play to your audience! Let’s take an hour to think about it…..

  20. - dznuts - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:20 pm:

    What’s with the multiple caucuses? There’s no extra points for shot-clock management here. Perhaps it’s a way to demonstrate there’s no rush to judgement, but to the casual observer, it looks like they need to re-think the offensive play one more time before the inbounds pass.

  21. - Barnum and Blago - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:21 pm:

    What form will the deliberation take?

    Each member giving a little speech?

  22. - Fan of the Game - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:21 pm:

    How long before a vote? Any chance a vote won’t be taken today?

  23. - Muskrat - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:25 pm:

    He should have urged them to reject the idea that “if the Gov throws a fit, you must acquit.”

  24. - Keep Smiling - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:26 pm:

    If that was a fired-up and impressive speech by Ellis, I’d hate to see a normal one. While it is only the Senate that matters today, Blago made a much greater mark today in the court of popular public opinion than Ellis and our entire Illinois Legislature. If the Black Caucus votes no as another poster suggested, things may play out in a very interesting way on the national media scene.

  25. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:27 pm:

    Now, if only the national media folks hung around for the rebuttal..unlikely. The evening news will be all Rod. I bet he takes questions later today from some friendly media. Will they be willing to ask why he wouldn’t take questions from the Senate?

  26. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:27 pm:

    Ellis nailed it. I agree, OneMan. Buy the book!

  27. - Silent Majority - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:28 pm:

    Blago gave a fantastic speech today but it won’t change the outcome.
    Ellis gave a better presentation than earlier but that’s not saying much. It still wasn’t very good but it won’t change the outcome either.
    Hello Gov. Quinn

  28. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:28 pm:

    I still can’t fathom why the Guv didn’t run both games at the same time. His lawyers could have been dealing with the Senate on rules of impeachment, list of witnesses, submitting evidence into record, etc. while he was off doing his media blitz, and then he could’ve capped it off this his speech today. Would seem like a better game plan to me…

  29. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:28 pm:

    This stuff about the black caucus voting no despite the evidence at hand borders on racist, at least in my eyes.

    Stop it now. If you can’t contain yourself, go to another site.

  30. - 32nd Ward Roscoe Village - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:28 pm:

    Antonio Munoz is 41 alphabetically (or 40 if you take out Cullerton). The minority leader is the 41st district, but it is my understanding it is alphabetical.

  31. - Secret Square - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:29 pm:

    Who casts vote #40 if 1) Cullerton waits until last AND 2) Hendon votes no?

  32. - sidepocket - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:30 pm:

    Ellis did a phenomenal job. Not too long - on message, assured the world this is serious and these are highly unusual circumstances. He assured the Senators that their impeachment actions are being respected as cautious and lawful. Ellis was just great.

  33. - Honest Abe - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:30 pm:

    WAIT! WAIT!, Blagojevich has just replaced Edward Genson with the actor who played attorney Jackie Chiles on “Seinfeld”! Will the black caucus be offended because Jackie defended Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) on the television program?

  34. - 32nd Ward Roscoe Village - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:31 pm:

    SS: Matt Murphy:

  35. - Anonymous Conservative - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:32 pm:

    I agree with Rich. I think Ellis was perfect. He didn’t waste anyone’s time with more fluff, he didn’t repeat what he had already said. He completely rebuffed the governor by reminding you of the contradictions of the governors own actions, i.e. he’s all about expanding healthcare for kids but tried to shakedown the hospital for campaign contributions. He nailed what he needed to. Can’t wait for the vote!

  36. - babs - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:32 pm:

    Does anyone really expect young Emil to vote for impeachment?

  37. - beyond over - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:33 pm:

    If everyone votes yes and they vote alphabetically, Tony Munoz (Sen District 1) will cast the 40th vote and put it over the top. That’s rare. You can’t make that stuff up.

  38. - Anon E. Mouse - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:36 pm:

    OK - my guess is 55-4

  39. - Beyond Embarrassed - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:37 pm:

    Quite a change in Ellis from the actual trial. I thought his short rebuttal was perfect. Threw bullseyes on all the important things that he needed to nail. He got up there, showed some passion and thundered on Blago. Any question that Blago may have planted in their minds with his speech was promptly and swiftly erased by Ellis’ empassioned rebuttal. Kudos to him. Blago better be on his way back on the plane or start checking the Amtrak schedule

  40. - wndycty - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:39 pm:

    Wow the shots at the Black caucus are just disgusting.

  41. - Amy - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:40 pm:

    ellis nailed it, cause….res ipsa loquitor….the thing (the gov) speaks for itself. you can see the guilt oozing.

    don’t know what david’s latest book is, but start the tour, or better still, a campaign. i’m with drew blagojevich, ellis for ag would be fine by me.

  42. - Amuzing Myself - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:41 pm:

    When Ellis pointed out the two different Rod Blagojeviches - the one with the camera on and the one with the camera off - he annihilated the Governor’s long, passionate performance. Quoting the Governor from the tapes nicely nailed the lid on the coffin, leaving the charge to the members of the Senate to begin a new era for the people of Illinois a very compelling “…now just sign right here…” as the nicely-tied bow on top of the package. Bravo!

  43. - lincoln street - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:42 pm:

    >Blago made a much greater mark today

    The Trib’s web poll is running 9-1 against the gov today. Admittedly it’s just a web poll. But then, how many people even saw either speech.

    Did Blagojevich increase his sympathy rating from 7% to 8%? Maybe. Did it have any real effect on public opinion? No.

    He’s gone. The question is how the decision will be looked at in a year. Does the Governor have any pockets of strong support today that might grow? No.

    Does he have any resources for continuing to tell his story? No.

    Are there any voting blocs that will come to regret this? That’s a tougher question, but I’m skeptical that there’s any major voting bloc who will look at a Quinn governorship and yearn for the days of Blagojevich. The interest who will try to undermine Quinn because he won’t play ball with them (just assuming he won’t for sake of argument) will attack Quinn on behalf of someone else, leaving the ignominious Blagojevich out of it.

  44. - Been There - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:43 pm:

    ===This stuff about the black caucus voting no despite the evidence at hand borders on racist, at least in my eyes.Stop it now. If you can’t contain yourself, go to another site.===
    Not only does it border on racist it also shows ignorance. They have a hard time sticking together on many issues for various reasons. Just look at the Senate president race. Not only will there be no black caucus vote but I doubt even Hendon votes no.
    I think I am in trouble with my over/under bets being at 5 from a few weeks ago. If I was making the line now it would be zero.

  45. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:45 pm:

    The only thing missing was a clip from the Maddow interview where Rod is discussing the Trib editorial board.

  46. - ivoted4judy - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:46 pm:

    I feel sorry for the two daughters, especially the older one. As for the parents: sooner rather than later! Ellis aint TV material like Rod, but that was a great rebuttal. I talked to 3 Senators after the speech, they wanted to hear about the Children’s Hospital!! Just like with Nixon “It’s the damn tapes!!”

  47. - UISeast - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:46 pm:

    I applaude Rich for telling the ‘black caucus’ comments to go elsewhere. This forum is above that kind of stereotyping.

  48. - GofGlenview - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:46 pm:

    He also forgot to mention the real nut of it all which is what set Fitzy in motion as much as the hospital scandal. The $11 billion State re-fi.

    That deal was done by Hurtgen, who is indicted in the hospital thing that took Levine and evntually Rezko down. Hurtgen in the employment of Bear Stearns wrote a fat check to Kjellander and half of that money went to Rezko. The question is did it eventually make it back to the Gov?

  49. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:46 pm:

    59-0 would be a good bet, but you never know…

  50. - Sad Day - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:47 pm:

    Explain…is the vote different than deliberations? Will each Senator say their peace and give their vote at the same time…is that deliberations? Or will their vote be a separate action?

  51. - ivoted4judy - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:48 pm:

    I am leaning to 59-0 ..Just can’t find a Senator who wants a primary challenge next time out. Remember they would have to run on a NO vote and this would be after the trial was ended and there is a conviction..

  52. - Northside Blogger - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:51 pm:

    All should read the books David Ellis authored. Fantastic!

  53. - Willie Stark - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:51 pm:

    Also, by the way, every member of the black caucus in the current House voted to impeach the governor. Every one.

    And, Dave Ellis did a superb job. I think some of you wanted an “Inherit the Wind” or television crime show sort of close. Sorry, that’s just not appropriate. This is real life, these proceedings far too importnat for histrionics or the kind of silly drama we got from the governor today. Ellis closed in a dignified manner, effectively hit his points, with quiet anger at the governor’s effrontery evident in his voice and tone, if one cared to notice.

  54. - oldengrey - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:51 pm:

    Or do we have to listen to 59 speeches for the camera as “deliberation” followed by yet another caucus or two and then finally a vote?

  55. - puzzler - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:51 pm:

    – Call the cleaners and get the sheets changed for Quinn at the Guv’s mansion already. –
    Why? It’s not like anyone’s slept on them lately.

  56. - tanstaafl - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:54 pm:

    Puzzler - You forget, Rod’s former attourney Gensen stayed there.

  57. - MO Watcher - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:54 pm:

    Listening to Talk of the Nation right now on NPR. Two women have called in talking about All Kids and the fact that it insures their kids. One just mentioned that “if we’re going to have a corrupt governor, why not have one that does things for kids?” Think he’s using his campaign fund to tell them to call in?

  58. - scoot - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:54 pm:

    The fat lady is warming up…

    na-na-na-na…na-na-na-na-..hey hey hey……gooooodddbyeeeeee!!

  59. - Windy City-zen - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:55 pm:

    “– Call the cleaners and get the sheets changed for Quinn at the Guv’s mansion already. –
    Why? It’s not like anyone’s slept on them lately.”

    All the more reason to have ‘em cleaned.

  60. - Ahem - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:55 pm:

    Ellis was great throughout. Congratulations to him.

  61. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:55 pm:

    The vote in the House had only a few comments and went quicker than anybody expected. I suspect the Senate will do the same. A few members will make comments, then everyone will vote. They will be done by 3:30 at the latest, more likely by 3:00.

  62. - Anon from BB - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:56 pm:

    If I was a betting man I would say that they are using the caucus time to figure out who will speak. I can’t imagine all 59 senators will say something, much less each of them 5 minutes of something. It would take hours!

  63. - Obamas' Puppy - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:56 pm:

    There will be some present votes too

  64. - Old Springfield - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:56 pm:

    Rich where is the party tonight?????

  65. - True Observer - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 1:58 pm:

    Blago’s accomplishment -

    Starting with a tiny minority, he has made a significant minority of people throughout the United States come to believe that has been railroaded.


    Worst possible scenario: Fitzgerald decides he can’t prove it and doesn’t indict. ALL HELL WILL BREAK LOOSE.

    2nd Worse scenario: Blago is acquitted. VOTERS WILL WANT SCAPEGOATS.

  66. - anon - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:02 pm:

    Ellis’ last remark was outstanding, the people are tired of it - get it over with. I’d like to see the caucus’ come back, decide on making the vote unanimous with no chatter from all 59 of them and get Quinn sworn in before 5 p.m. ! What do you think of that?

  67. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:02 pm:

    Gov Evan Meacham was aquitted after he was impeached and removed. Nobody cared.

  68. - oldengrey - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:05 pm:

    True Observer:

    Which voters would those be?

  69. - Hair today, gone tomorrow - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:06 pm:

    Emil III will vote against Rod.

  70. - Cynic - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:07 pm:

    Pot — I’d be willing to bet it’s not unanimous. Still, the way the rules are written (not voting on each article but instead a simple yes/no) I can’t imagine that anyone can justify a vote against.

  71. - he gone - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:07 pm:

    I wonder too if this will help Fitz’s case in that more people will be willing to talk to him now that they no longer have to fear the Gov.’s office.

  72. - GofGlenview - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:08 pm:

    True Observer-

    What the voters want is a hero- the real question is- who will THAT be.

  73. - Been There - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:09 pm:

    Could this possibly be the last official act that bears Governor Blagojevich signature? I might frame it.

    Or is he busy signing other exective orders, Water Rec appointment or firing people?

  74. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:09 pm:

    I wonder how it feels to make the speech of your life, deliver it flawlessly and bring it home and when your done you can hear a pin drop. I bet he thought they would all clap.

    That is how you know your in trouble.

  75. - True Observer - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:10 pm:

    “Gov Evan Meacham was aquitted after he was impeached and removed. Nobody cared.”

    That was Arizona where they don’t take their politics seriously.

    This is Illinois. They’re still talking about Ryan and Walker and the shoe boxes and Richard J. and Ogilvie and ….

    In Arizona, they’re out enjoying the sunshine.

  76. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:11 pm:

    59-0-0 is my below the fold prediction

  77. - Happy About Our Future - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:13 pm:

    Did Blago head back for Chicago or is he still in town?

  78. - Keep Smiling - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:13 pm:


    My sincere apologies. I can see what you mean, if you are very certain that there is no merit to a “no or “present” vote. I’m not as certain as you on that point, but from that perspective, I get it. Sorry.

  79. - Nearly Normal - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:14 pm:

    Ellis has authored a book titled In the Company of Liars–how appropriate.

  80. - another anon - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:14 pm:

    Even if there is no criminal trial or RB is acquitted, there are still plenty of reasons to impeach him as Gov today because he has abused his office.

  81. - GofGlenview - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:15 pm:

    Actualy I think it will play out like this…from the Land of Fiction:

    Blago get’s impeached…

    Blago get’s indicted for more. Specifically, the payout to Kjellander.

    Blago goes to trial…at that trial Rezko and Kelly both testify against him.

    Cellini goes down as does Hurtgen. Kjellander get’s indicted for lying to federal prosecutors and, possibly, helping Rezko and Blago take payoffs….

  82. - Fan of the Game - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:15 pm:

    Someone will be the proverbial baseball writer and spoil the unanimous HOF vote.


  83. - Fan of the Game - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:16 pm:

    Looks like they are filing in.

  84. - Concerned Observer - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:18 pm:

    It’s possible, Fan, but I’d be stunned. These votes are all public…and no one wants to be on that lonely ol’ limb.

    It’ll be 0, or two or more, but it won’t be 1.

  85. - GofGlenview - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:21 pm:

    sorry, he’s already been impeached- per Rich-the vote to remove is 59-0-0.

  86. - Ellis is the MAN - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 2:52 pm:

    I agree that Ellis did a great job - he was dignified and humble. But Mike Kasper was the pretty one.

    Kudos to the House Prosecutor, his staff, and the people of the State of Illinois. Regardless of the outcome, their voices were finally heard.

  87. - Honest Abe - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 3:28 pm:

    New York impeached and removed Governor William Sulzer, a Democrat who ran afoul of the bosses of Tammany Hall. Sulzer was removed in 1913. And many people believe that he was railroaded for purely political reasons.

    Rod Blagojevich is no William Sulzer.

  88. - Dan S, a taxpaer, a voter and a Cubs Fan - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 4:17 pm:

    Why did Ricky throw the race card?

  89. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 29, 09 @ 5:37 pm:

    For those of you who think the national news is salivating over this freakshow, turn on your TV.

    It’s the economy, stupid.

    The Monday after the Super Bowl, it will be, “Rod who.”

    The circus has left. It’s time to put aside childish things.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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