Rod Blagojevich wanted so badly to tell his side of the story. And that’s one reason he won’t be telling it to the jury in his trial.
Blagojevich is so garrulous, so convinced of his ability to charm his way into anything -- e.g., Ald. Dick Mell’s family, Congress, the governorship -- or out of anything -- e.g., prison -- that he won’t be able to control himself on the witness stand.
After pouring out tales of his innocence to Whoopi Goldberg, to his castmates on Celebrity Apprentice, to the crowd outside the Dirksen Building, Blagojevich just won’t have the self-discipline to stand up to questioning from U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s gang of humorless prosecutors. Blagojevich doesn’t seem to understand the difference between a campaign and a trial. In a campaign, the goal is to get the audience to like you. In a trial, it’s to persuade them you’re not a criminal.
The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog quoted experts who say that shutting up is the best decision Blagojevich has made during this trial:
“He’s a loose cannon,” criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lopez said. “They’ll ask, ‘What did you mean when you said ‘(expletive) the people of Illinois?’ How’s he going to answer that? He’ll get creamed.”
Over at the Sun-Times, Mark Brown is calling Blagojevich a “chicken” and a “weenie” for refusing to testify after promising to proclaim his innocence.
But then he concedes:
As much as Blagojevich would love to speak directly to the jury, he loves his freedom even more, as any of us would, and somebody must have explained the facts of life to him, which is that he can only get hurt by opening himself up to cross-examination by federal prosecutors.
And the invaluable Blagojustice.com believes that “Rod’s attorney’s likely said to the Governor -- if you take the stand, that’s your ticket to jail. His only hope is to not take the stand.”
The fact is, the prosecution’s case wasn’t that strong. They never demonstrated that Blagojevich profited from his schemes. At least, what we heard wasn’t that strong. The Tribune thinks that Blagojevich’s silence may be a foxy move to bury some of the evidence against him -- a speculation that’s bolstered by a prosecutor’s reaction to the news.
Blagojevich’s lawyers believed prosecutors had held back part of their case against the former governor to use against him in what promised to be a bruising cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar, who glared toward the defense table after learning of the decision.
The attorneys also were operating under the belief that if Blagojevich testified, convicted fundraiserAntoin "Tony" Rezko, who has cooperated with the government, was likely to be called as a powerful rebuttal witness by prosecutors.
As Blagojevich left court today, all he had to say was, “Sometimes you’ve gotta listen to the advice of your lawyers.”
So now he decides to shut up? Whether that's because he's a chicken or a fox is yet to be determined.