Former governor Rod Blagojevich will take the stand in his federal corruption trial, sources said.
The prosecution rested Thursday, calling an FBI agent as their last witness. Agent Daniel Cain certified timelines of the evidence and copies of the oaths of office which Blagojevich took as governor in 2003 and 2007, along with actual videos of him doing so.
The government’s portion of the trial took far less time in its second installment. The first trial featured 32 witnesses presented over 19 days. This proceeding was eight days shorter, with just 15 witnesses taking the stand.
As court drew to a close Thursday afternoon, defense lawyers played their cards close to the chest. Lead counsel Sheldon Sorosky told Judge James Zagel only that he planned to call "people of some prominence."
While some of those individuals might be hesitant to testify, Zagel said he would be "unsympathetic" to anyone who tries to avoid an appearance.
Earlier Thursday, former Deputy Governor Bradley Tusk testified he was told to help hold up a grant to a northwest side school, pending a fundraiser from then-congressman Rahm Emanuel.
"He said the grant would not be released unless the congressman’s brother held a fundraiser first," Tusk said. “He wanted me to communicate that to Congressman Emanuel.”
Tusk said he never conveyed the message to Emanuel, and the school eventually got the money. But its president, Dr. Arnold Feinstein, testified that the $2 million dollar grant was split into five different payments, each requiring extensive paperwork.
Emanuel remains on the potential witness list, along with famous names like Jesse Jackson Jr., Valerie Jarrett and Sen. Richard Durbin.
But of course, Blagojevich himself would be the marquis witness who visitors would pack the galleries to see. And while his legal team has apparently made the decision to put him on the stand, such decisions are subject to change.
In his first trial, Blagojevich and his lawyers vowed repeatedly that he would take the stand, only to change their mindsat the end of the prosecution’s case. The defense rested in that trial, offering no witnesses, declaring that prosecutors had failed to prove the charges.
The jury in that first trial deadlocked on all charges, except for a single count of lying to the FBI.