Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Blago Trial: Live Journal 6/17

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    NEWSLETTERS

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

    What to expect today: Former national Democratic fundraiser Joseph Cari is back on the stand where he's expected to talk about Blagojevich's plans to extort money from a firm that wanted to do business with the state. Cari told the court Wednesday that Blagojevich had approached him about starting  a money gathering campaign for a potential Blago presidential run.

    Other witnesses who could take the stand Thursday include Jill Hayden, former head of Blago's boards and commissions, and Ali Ata, a Tony Rezko fixer who was appointed to head a state agency after writing a check to Blagojevich.

    9:55 am:

    Joe Cari testifies that New York fundraiser Stuart Levine shared details of the Blago enrichment mechanism. Cari says the Levine told him that the governor, Chris Kelly and Tony Rezko were going to put together a structure in which they would award state contracts to certain individuals, then go back to those individuals for campaign contributions.

    The prosecution asked him to clarify his statments. 

    "That there would be a quid pro quo where they were going to reward their friends."

    11:00am:

    Cari says Chris Kelly said "if I would raise money for them he would make sure I got more legal work or more capital to manage for my private equity firm."

    Said he refused. "It was startling to me," Cari said.

    Cari went on to describe how Stuart Levine tried to force another investment firm, JER, to use a Rezko-connected consultant if they wanted an $80 million deal with the Teachers Retirement System. Levine made clear that he would prevent the investment if they didn't play along. 

    12:00 pm:

    The defense gets a shot at questioning Cari and immediately breaks down his testimony about his and Blagojevich's conversation about fund-raising aboard a plane.

    Defense attorney Michael Gillespie gets Cari to admit that Blagojevich never directly asked him to do anything illegal, and that their conversation focused on fund-raising for a presidential run.

     12:15 pm:

    After a blistering cross-examination by the defense, the prosecution asks Cari on the redirect why he initially lied to FBI agents about some of his illegal activity.

    Cari tells prosecutors that he feared retribution by Blagojevich if they found out he cooperated with investigators.

    12:30 pm: 

    Jill Hayden, Blago's former director of Boards and Commissions takes the stand. Prosecutors begin quesitoning her about the process used to appoint people to the state's more than 300 boards and commissions.

    She says Tony Rezko had a lot of influence on which candidates were selected.

     2:00 pm:

     Hayden says she was instructed in 2004 not to take Tony Rezko's calls out of concern that the FBI had tapped his phone.

    2:40 pm:

    Ali Ata, former directer of the Illinois finance authority, takes the stand. He begins testimony about how he and Tony Rezko ran an income-tax scam around commercial property.

    Ata testified that he raised funds for Blagojevich and was offered a position in the administration as executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority.

    But when he received that offer Rezko said Ata should contribute another $50,000.  He  said he couldn't afford that, but he gave $25,000.

    A few days later when he bumped into Blagojevich at a fundraiser at Navy Pier, the governor thanked him and said he hoped his new job was a position where he could "make a lot of money."

    4:30 p.m.:

    During cross examination of Ali Ata, defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. asks about Ata's early retirement package from a former company in 2001 after being questioned by the FBI over the 9/11 terror attacks. 

    Ata testified he believed "he felt" he was laid off because of it.

    Adam Jr. kept asking Ata about the FBI's line of questioning.  After two objections, both sustained by Judge Zagel, Adam Jr. asked again. 

    Zagel quickly told Adam Jr. to sit down and excused the jury.  Once the jury left the courtroom, Adam Jr. appeared in front of Zagel.

    "It would be nice if you stopped at the second reiterattion of the question.  The witness told you what he thought.  he told the jury what he thought.  So unless you have concrete evidence of what the FBI thought, I'm barring this line of questioning," Zagel said.  "If I object, don't repeat."

    Adam Jr. was clearly frustrated and tried to find transcripts but ended up moving on. 

    When the jury returned, Adam Jr. began a question by saying, "Now you have agreed to tell the truth..."

    The government objected.

    "Don't do that," Zagel said.

    Thursday Morning Blagojevich Coverage: 

    Judge Zagel stops just short of gagging the former governor. [Ward Room]  

    Blair Hull got played for a fool, by a fool. [Sun-Times]  

    Barack Obama, Rod Blagojevich used to hang with a Karl Rove buddy. [Chicago Tribune]  

    The prosecution's case rests on Rezko. [Daily Herald]  

    Previous Journals:

    Wednesday, June 16 Journal -- Joseph Cari Talks 

    Tuesday, June 15 Journal -- Adam Calls Monk a Liar

    Monday, June 14 Journal -- Monk's Cross Exam Begins

    Thursday, June 10  Journal -- Monk's Cash Deal

    Wednesday, June 9 Journal -- First Witnesses

    Tuesday, June 8 Journal -- Opening Statements