Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Blago: Prosecutors are "Cowards and Liars"

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A fuming former Illinois governor says the prosecution is trying to cover up their tracks by barring the full tapes of wiretapped conversations to be played in court.

Disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich aggresively attacked the prosecution Tuesday, saying they were "liars" and "cowards", and issued a personal challenge to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to come to court Wednesday and answer for why the government doesn't want all the undercover tapes to be played in court.

"I'm here today to issue a challenge," a visibly upset Blagojevich said. "I challenge Mr. Fitzgerald. Why don't you show up in court tomorrow and explain to everybody. Explain to the whole world. Why you don't want those tapes that you made played in court. I'll be in court tomorrow. I hope you're man enough to be in court too."

Blagojevich's announcement comes a day after the prosecution filed a motion to prevent Blagojevich's defense team from playing recordings of him in their entirety.

Blagojevich has long maintained that playing the full tapes will exonerate him and/or prove other government officials were complicit in his schemes.

The announcement also comes a week after the prosecution released their Santiago proffer, a document which outlines the case against Blagojevich and his brother, and includes details about Patti Blagojevich's role in their schemes.

Mrs. Blagojevich allegedly profited from her husband's position and received payment for brokerage services she never rendered.

"Last week in their proffer of lies they're hitting below the belt and now attacking my wife," Blagojevich said. "They are cowards and they are liars. Patti is a devoted mother, she's a loving wife, she's a licensed professional, she is capable, she is confident ... and all the money that she earned she paid taxes on."

Two obvious questions were on the minds of spectators following the former governor's announcement:  What is the strategy?  Will it work?

"He was doing something very specific," said Bill Healy, a trial consultant and jury expert.  "There is a bad guy.  The bad guy is the prosecutor.  He lied to you all.  You all will find out about it.  You lost a governor who was fighting for you in the trenches."

Former Asst. U.S. Attorney John Gallo said it's "self-evident" that Blagojevich is trying to effect the jury pool. 

"He knows what's going to happen, which is that all the tapes aren't going to be played and he's hoping that some decision maker -- some potential juror -- is out there [that he can sway in his favor]," Gallo said.

The experts say they're convinced of two other things:  it will be an incredibly well-vetted jury to weed out any affect the circus of pre-trial publicity might have had.  And if there is the smoking gun tape like Blagojevich alleges, Judge James Zagel will allow it to be played.

Gallo and Healy say they're betting that there is no such tape.

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