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Blago Stumbles Through Day 4 Testimony

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Blago Stumbles Through Day 4 Testimony
Jack Higgins
Blago Stumbles Through Day 4 Testimony

Jeff Haynes

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich listens to his wife Patti talk to reporters after they arrived for trial on corruption charges at the Dirksen Federal Building on June 3, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.

Wednesday wasn't a good day for Rod Blagojevich.

The former governor acted almost sheepish as he tried to explain his own words, recorded in secretly-surveilled phone conversations.  And Judge James Zagel at one point admonished him for trying to "smuggle" in details previously ruled inadmissable and at another accused the defense team of stalling.

Jurors heard the infamous "effin' golden" tape:  "I've got this thing and it's f***in' golden, and I'm not gonna give it up for f***in' nothing," Blagojevich was heard saying.

He initially said he was "afraid" to explain what he meant on the call, but his lawyer, Aaron Goldstein, urged him to press on.

"I knew this was a unique opportunity and I didn't want to give it up without fully discussing ideas so I could make the best decision," Blagojevich testified. "I want to buy time.  Slow down.  And not let even the president-elect rush me into a decision."

Then there was the well-known moment, heard in the recordings, when Blagojevich's team advised him to not appoint himself to the senate seat.  Blagojevich sensed the whole world was turning against him.

 "I f****** busted my a** and pissed people off and gave your grandmother a free f****** ride on a bus. OK? I gave your f****** baby a chance to have health care," Blagojevich said in the November 2008 call.  "And what do I get for that? Only 13 percent of you all out there think I'm doing a good job. So f*** all of you."

Blagojevich apologized to the jury for the profanity.

"It really looks bad and sounds bad when you hear it and see it," he said.  "This is a classic case of unrequited love.... I fought the system.  I was more than frustrated.  I was afraid."

There were clear signs Wednesday that Judge Zagel too was frustrated.  He chastized the former governor for bringing up points he'd previously ruled shouldn't be mentioned in front of the jury.

"This is a deliberate effort by this witness to raise something that he can't raise,'' Zagel said. "This is not fair, this is a repeated example of a defendant who wants to say something by smuggling (it) in."

Later, Zagel told the defense team they needed to think about wrapping up Blagojevich's testimony.  Citing a rule of "unnecessary duplication," he told the defense team they'd have Wednesday and one hour Thursday to finish up with their witness.

"You have a client who ... likes to give a speech," Zagel said, speaking again with jurors out of the room. "But we've gotten to the point where it's not doing any good."

He said the tedium of the answers could even end up hurting Blagojevich.
 
When Blagojevich goes on about an ambassadorship to Macedonia, Zagel cuts him off.

"I do believe now ... that you are trying to run the clock," he said.  "This is a ...stalling tactic, I don't want to see that."

Wednesday's testimony recessed around the 5 p.m. hour.  Zagel then issued one final warning of the day to the often-tardy defense team.

"I'm going to have them [the jurors] in the jury box at 9:30 [a.m.]," he said.  "Don't be late."

For a play-by-play of Day 4 testimony, read our live blog.

Related Topics Rod Blagojevich, Retrial, Day 4
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