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Balanoff said he planned to threaten Blagojevich

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 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Eventually, Jarrett’s name was withdrawn because Blagojevich kept insisting on cutting a deal.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.

* Roundup…

* 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


  1. - Son of Ben - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 2:18 pm:

    “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?”

    How was he supposed to know? Considering Blago himself had a law degree and presumably a staff with access to Westlaw, I would say he could have got some of his own answers.

    The problem with him is that he wasn’t asking the questions.

  2. - D.P. Gumby - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 2:37 pm:

    Are we anywhere w/in shouting distance of an actual crime in all this evidence about Blago’s looniness? “We otta do this” “We otta do that” “Will they give us $$” It’s like George’s case; I’m still waiting to see $$ in his pocket or plausible threats that will get $$ in his pocket.

  3. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 2:39 pm:

    DPG, you never heard of conspiracy? Don’t be a total tool.

  4. - Sacks Romana - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 2:43 pm:

    The Blago Blog rocks. It’s a shame newspapers haven’t put resources into developing real online communities because every post over there has 0 comments.

    The latest:

    Alexi is vindicated and Schakowsky isn’t black enough for Blago. Of course, you should really check out Korecki and Ostman’s blog for the quotes, which are typically priceless.

  5. - HatShopGirl - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 3:15 pm:

    Why is the defense, Sam Adam Sr., (in the first link, “two veterans tussle” allowed to refer to Blagojevich as “Governor” while in court!

    This is as inappropriate as if Conrad Black were referred to as “Lord” Conrad Black. It would not have been allowed, the prosecutors would have objected!

    As they should. By getting away with referrring to Rod Blagojevich as “Governor” they are allowing the subliminal-suggestion that somehow the impeachment didn’t happen or was improper.

    Lawyers know that language is precise and often engage in splitting-hairs about the meaning of words. In court Blagojevich should be referred to as “Ex-Governor” or Mr. Blagojevich. Sam Adam’s getting away with swaying the jury, judge, and even the Prosecutors to subliminally accept that Blagojevich’s title still is “Governor”.

    It’s the deferential tone of using the title, “Governor” that could taint the jury’s perception that the “Governor” Blagojevich was indeed wrongfully impeached based on government allegations that are lies.

    I suggest the Prosecution object to the use “Governor”, or “Congressman” as a title for Blagojevich in court. Either refer to Blagojevich as “Ex-Governor Blagojevich” or “Ex-Congressman Blagojevich”.

    Or do what everyone else in the court does. Use the title “Mr.” when addressing to or referring to Blagojevich.

    I’m impressed by Sam Adam, Sr.

  6. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 5:42 pm:

    Rezko’s in Wisconsin? Beautiful time of year to be there.

    Zagel is running a pretty tight ship. It sounds like he just waived off the prosecution from calling Rezko.

  7. - Original Rambler - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 11:24 pm:

    I would like to second that compliment of the S-T blog.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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