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Prosecution Rests, Defense Dives In

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Prosecution Rests, Defense Dives In
Jack Higgins
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Blagojevich: They Have Recordings of Me?

May 11, 2011: Wednesday was a bad day for Rod Blagojevich in federal court, as jurors in his corruption trial heard one of the former governor's alleged scandals unfold, on tape after tape, start to finish.
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Read the play-by-play of Thursday's closing arguments.

Rod Blagojevich arrived at the Federal Courthouse Thursday knowing he would leave with his fate in the hands of the jury.

Prosecutor Carrie Hamilton resumed her closing arguments by leading that jury step by step through the charges against him, using a PowerPoint presentation to link the acts and the charges, and ending each with a bright red "guilty" stamp.

“What it comes down to is a single question," Hamilton said, "Was he trying to get a benefit for himself in exchange for an official act?”

She also played an excerpt from the expletive-laden tirade by the former governor after he learned Barack Obama wasn’t willing to offer him a cabinet post in return for the appointment of Valerie Jarrett to his old Senate seat.

"The man who is about to be the leader of the free world, his response to him is, 'I get nothing from you?' "

In contrast to the government’s methodical presentation, Blagojevich attorney Aaron Goldstein appealed to the jury’s sense of fairness, emotionally telling them his client never profited from what he is accused of doing.

“He didn’t get a dime, not a nickel in campaign contributions, not in his pocket. Nothing,” Goldstein said.

He admitted that Blagojevich loves to talk, sometimes even overruling his own lawyers’ objections. But that’s all the recorded conversations show, he said: a man who likes to think aloud.

“Did he come anywhere close to doing any of that?" he appealed to the jury. "Absolutely not.”

Goldstein also ridiculed the government’s PowerPoint explanation of events.

“They wanted to simplify this case because it was too complex," he said. “If it was too complex, they didn’t meet their burden.”

Because the government has the burden of proof, Prosecutor Reid Schar will have one last chance to address the jury before Judge James Zagel reads them their instructions and they begin deliberations.

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