* From the Sun-Times’ excellent trial coverage…
Union leader Tom Balanoff just testified that right after the Presidential election, he met with both Valerie Jarrett and Alexi Giannoulias about Jarrett’s possible appointment to the Senate by Rod Blagojevich.
Balanoff said he asked Giannoulias to set up the meeting. The three met at the Aon Center on Nov. 7.
Balanoff said at the meeting he told Valerie Jarrett about his meeting the day before with Blagojevich.
“I said: ‘He said some goofy stuff … he could be Secretary of Health and Human Services.’” Balanoff testified. “I told her I told him that wasn’t going to happen. We both laughed.”
Balanoff said he planned to tell Blagojevich that if he didn’t appoint Jarrett then the governor couldn’t expect future help from the union, a major Democratic contributor.
Eventually, Jarrett’s name was withdrawn because Blagojevich kept insisting on cutting a deal.
* Andy Shaw’s take on this morning’s action…
The former governor’s defense team just completed the poking and prodding of prosecution witness John Harris in a predictable attempt to undermine potentially damaging testimony about the alleged sale of the Obama Senate seat and some of the other charges in the massive indictment. We got to see two of the defense theories that were mentioned in opening statements and developed more thoroughly as the trial moves along.
One is the so-called “advice of counsel” defense, which says in effect: Blago was sourrounded by attorneys—Lon Monk, Bradley Tusk, John Harris, Bill Quinlan—and if they didn’t tell him anything was illegal, how was he supposed to know? That, however, is an argument that’s been laughed off the legal stage by Richard Posner, the intellectual giant on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals here in Chicago. The second explanation for Blago’s behavior, from his attorneys, is what I call the “braying at the moon defense,” which means the former governor did a lot of yelling, screaming, scheming and threatening because that was his personality—he was a bit of a whack job, not a criminal. Well, the first part was obvious to most of us for years. That was the governor we elected twice—shame on us. The second part, whether or not he’s a criminal, is, thankfully, up to the jury. I’m confident they’ll do the right thing, which is something we can’t say about Blago and his cohorts.
* The judge doesn’t think Tony Rezko would be a great prosecution witness…
One big question hanging over the trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been whether his convicted fundraiser, Antoin “Tony” Rezko, would appear at these proceedings to testify against his old friend. Rezko, now imprisoned at a federal facility in Wisconsin, has been cooperating with government agents since shortly after his 2008 conviction.
It’s still not certain whether Rezko will testify, but at a hearing before testimony resumed today, U.S. District Judge James Zagel strongly suggested that Rezko would make a lousy government witness.
Zagel said there was a word to describe witnesses like Rezko who damage whatever side calls them to testify. That, said Zagel, “generally explains why they’re not called.” Zagel refrained from actually saying what the word was, leaving the suggestion it was less than polite.
* Judge James Zagel: New tape won’t be admitted until Rod Blagojevich takes the stand
* 2 veterans tussle in courtroom
* Blagojevich trial: Day 16 and recap
* Differing Views of Blagojevich’s Evolving Senate Schemes
* Blagojevich Tapes Show Tactical Maneuvering and Wishful Thinking
* Blagojevich lawyer: Former governor wanted Lisa Madigan in exchange for legislative package
* Blagojevich to Jesse Jackson Jr.: “I’m glad someone’s thinking about me.” Now Harris to face defense questioning
* Rod Blagojevich: Cheryle Jackson is “f-ing incompetent,” Jesse Jackson Jr. is an “uber-African American”
* Defense: Top aides never told Blagojevich it was illegal to ask Obama for appointment
* Defense: Blagojevich talked Senate seat with lawyer, top aide present
* Sam Adam questioning: Blagojevich advisers were intelligent, qualified
* Blagojevich pumps iron, breathes heavy as he ponders Oprah, Arnold appointments
* Blagojevich suggested Oprah Winfrey for U.S. Senate seat
* Harris: Blagojevich disliked ethics bill that targeted him and not lawmakers
* Judge to Blagojevich lawyers: You can’t see President Obama’s interview with FBI
* Attorney for Robert Blagojevich: Robert not a part of Senate seat strategizing