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Blagojevich Ends High-Stakes Testimony

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Blagojevich Ends High-Stakes Testimony
Jack Higgins
Blagojevich Ends High-Stakes Testimony

Scott Olson, Getty Images

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich arrives at the federal courthouse June 1.

Rod Blagojevich said he wanted a chance to tell his story to the jury, and that he did. Cross examination of the former governor concluded just before noon.

Was it a lucky seven days on the stand for Blagojevich or did he roll craps?

Prosecutors continued to probe Blagojevich’s activities leading up his is December 2008 arrest and whether he was trying to swap President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat for campaign contributions or holding up a major construction bill to get campaign donations from a major fundraiser.

The defense wanted the jury to hear a never-before-played recording involving then-Rep. Rahm Emanuel in which he apparently asks the governor to appoint a placeholder in the congressional seat.  Such a move would be unconstitutional.

Judge James Zagel eventually blocked the motion.

In April, the ex-governor’s brother, Robert, talked that tape in an interview with NBC Chicago.

"I’m not going to comment directly but there are things that need to be explained," Robert Blagojevich said from his home in Nashville.

Prosecutors ended their cross-examination with questions about Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. and whether or not his emissaries were offering $1.5 million in exchange for appointing him to the Senate. Jackson has said he authorized no one to make sure a deal. Blagojevich refused to call it a bribe when prompted by prosecutors, but said he thought it as clearly illegal.

From a political standpoint Jackson again came in for rough sledding.

Prosecutor: "Is it fair to say sir you were not a big fan of Congressman Jackson?"

Blagojevich: "Yes."

Blagojevich said Jackson never raised campaign funds for him and criticized the south south Congressman saying he never raised money for anyone.

Blagojevich at on point said: "If I pretended like I might pick Jesse Jackson Jr. and make an objective political argument… the Washington establishment would not like that and senators Harry Reid, Bob Menendez, Dick Durbin and Rahm Emanuel would be more likely to help me get the deal for Lisa Madigan."

He said he wanted to make those in D.C. think he might be crazy enough to send Jesse Junior, former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones and the most crazy -- himself -- to the U.S. Senate.

There is a fine line in getting to know someone and perhaps knowing someone too well. And that may have happened with Blagojevich, who, after one question by the government, said, "the Cubs lost last night, I hope that doesn’t get me in trouble with anyone." 

In what seemed like he hoped would be a light moment, Blagojevich turned to the jury, but no one was smiling.

Related Topics Rod Blagojevich, Retrial
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