Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Blago Trial: Live Journal 6/10

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Follow the Ward Room twitter feed, with action from inside the courtroom.

    What to expect today: Rod Blagojevich's long-time buddy and former chief of staff Alonzo "Lon" Monk will continue testimony this morning. Yesterday Monk provided the prosecution with details on how the Blagojevich fundraising operation functioned.

    The prosecution may start playing some of the reportedly explosive FBI phone tap recordings.

    Monk is also expected to talk about horse track lobbying. 
     
    10:00:
     
    Prosecutor Reid Schar this morning asked Judge Zagel to instruct the defendants not to make faces during testimony.
     
    Schar said Blagojevich expressed disgust during yesterdays questioning of Lon Monk in a way that jurors could see.

    "It's not proper for decorum and it's clearly distracting," he said.

    Zagel agrees: "Both defendants are advised not to express views by gestures or facial expressions," Zagel said.

    The prosecution also asks that Patti Blagojevich be removed from the courtroom because some testimony will concern her, and could affect her testimony later on in the trial.  Judge says she can stay for now, but will leave when testimony begins.

    10:15:

    Lon Monk testifies that Tony Rezko and Chris Kelly, who did not have any role in state government, submitted lists of who they wanted in influential positions on state boards and commissions. These individuals were almost always big donors, Monk says.  Blagojevich said these positions were the equivalent of his "ambassadorships", feeling "they ought to donate money if they were going to be in these spots."

    In the case of an Illinois Finance Authority position, Rezko especially wanted one of his people, Ali Ata, to be executive director, he said. 
     
    Blagojevich was required by law to submit two names to the board for consideration as executive director.  He said they submitted Ata and a person they didn't even talk to who wasn't qualified, so Ata would be chosen.

    12:00:

    Monk reveals a sign language system used between Rezko, Kelly, Blagojevich and himself when they would meet to talk about making money.

    Says they referred to each other as 1,2,3 and 4 and would hold up fingers to symbolize their numeric assignment.

    Monk says that Blagojevich once used the hand gesture raising each finger slowly before running  a single finger across his throat, as a warning. 

     "If you're ever asked about this, don't talk about it," Monk said Blagojevich said.

    The gesturing clearly rattled Blagojevich.

    12:30:

    Monk says he took cash from Tony Rezko seven to nine different times over a two year period beginning in 2004.  Each time, Rezko would hand him an envelope stuffed with $10,000.

    He says he never saw evidence that Blagojevich took similar payouts.

    Monk says he never told Blagojevich about the cash, but was certain he would have been upset by it. But Monk says the payments wouldn't have angered him, but the attention they would have drawn.

    3:30pm:

    Former governor Rod Blagojevich had a deal with former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones to nominate Jones for President Obama's Senate seat, the prosecution's star witness said today -- but Obama's own political calculations undermined the plan.

    Retaking the witness stand this afternoon, Blagojevich's former roommate Lon Monk said that Blagojevich had a deal with Jones that he would kill an ethics bill which was going to limit Blagojevich's ability to raise money, if Blagojevich agreed to appoint him to Barack Obama's senate seat when/if Obama won the presidential election.

    It looked like they had an agreement, Monk said,  but Obama called Jones and asked him to call the bill to help his presidential chances.  Jones agreed.  The ethics legislation went into law, and the deal was off to make Jones the U.S. Senator. See full story.

    4:30pm:
    The government started playing the recordings today, all of them surrounding the efforts to fill Barack Obama's senate seat.  In one, Blagojevich is discussing Blair Hull, the millionaire who had unsuccessfully run for the Senate in the previous election..

    "Blair Hull!" an incredulous Blagojevich says. "This guy actually thinks he can be Senator!"

    In another call, Blagojevich makes clear he has no intention of giving the job to Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.

    "You know Jesse Jr.'s starting to call me now," Monk is heard saying on the call, "and I'm not taking his calls."

    "By no means!" Blagojevich says.  "he'll offer you fundraising and all kinds of stuff.  You should ignore that!"

    Wednesday, June 9 Journal -- First Witnesses

    Tuesday, June 8 Journal -- Opening Statements