Ward Room
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Jury Ask For, Gets Bradley Tusk's Witness Testimony




    The jurors in the Rod Blagojevich corruption case asked Judge James Zagel for the transcripts of prosecution witness Bradley Tusk's testimony.

    Tusk, a former deputy governor, testified on June 21 that Governor Blagojevich attempted to pressure then U.S. Congressman Rahm Emanuel into asking his brother, Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, to hold a fund raiser in exchange for the release of funds for a Chicago school.

    "He [Blagojevich] said before the money could be released he wanted Rahm's brother to hold a fundraiser," Tusk testified.

    Tusk said he refused to deliver the message and instead called Blagojevich aide John Wyma and the governor's general counsel and chief ethics adviser William J. Quinlan.

    "I believed that doing that [asking Emanuel's brother to hold a fundraiser] would be both illegal and unethical," Tusk testified.

    Zagel agreed to give the jury the transcript, but instructed them that portions would be blacked out that were not heard by the jury.

    Rod and Robert Blagojevich were not in attendance when the question was read.

    The note was the first communication from the jury since they announced last week that they had only reached a consensus on two of the 24 counts facing the former governor.  It led to renewed speculation over their progress, with some calling it a plus for the prosecution.

    Zagel last week asked the jurors to deliberate further on 11 wire fraud counts that they had not considered.  But Monday's note suggested jurors may be looking at a separate count of attempted extortion directly related to the school. They could also be focusing again on the first and broadest count against Blagojevich, racketeering. Part of that count deals with the school grant.

    None of the wire fraud counts are connected directly to the alleged bid to use the school money to squeeze campaign donations --
    since that alleged scheme occurred two years before Blagojevich's phones were tapped.

    Blagojevich, 53, has pleaded not guilty to all 24 counts, including charges he tried to sell or trade Obama's old Senate seat for a high-paying job or campaign cash. His 54-year-old brother, Robert Blagojevich, a Nashville, Tenn., businessman, faces four
    counts and also pleaded not guilty.