Rod Blagojevich tried, but failed Wednesday to offer an "evidence of history" argument that vaguely included comparing his Senate swap to President Barack Obama appointing Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.
In something of a trial run, known as an "offer of proof," the jury was kept out of the room while the former governor and his lawyers demonstrated what they hoped to say with jurors present.
Specifically, Blagojevich said he had believed all of his actions were legal, based on the fact that none of his advisors told him they weren't. Plus, as a student of history, he said he was familiar with numerous, well-known "horse trades" from America's past.
He noted that Gerald Ford offered numerous inducements to Ronald Reagan to keep him from running against him, including the ambassadorship to Great Britain. (It didn't work). He recalled how California Gov. Earl Warren was promised a spot on the Supreme Court to support Dwight Eisenhower. And more recently, how Obama gained Clinton's support by helping to retire her campaign debt (and later appoint her as Secretary of State).
Judge James Zagel rejected the argument, declaring the examples were not analogous to this case and "extremely vague."
Zagel also ruled Blagojevich could not argue that he "thought what he was doing was legal."
"What your client clearly understood was, you can't exchange one for the other," Zagel said.
Zagel said the argument was especially not appropriate in Blagojevich's hope to get a private non-profit established in exchange for appointing Valerie Jarrett to the senate.
After all, Zagel said, that was the one scenario that would have put money in Blagojevich's pocket.