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Government Begins Strong Closing Arguments



    Government Begins Strong Closing Arguments
    Rod Blagojevich signs autographs after court Tuesday.

    He lied under oath as governor, and he lied under oath on the stand.

    That was the contention made Wednesday by government attorney Carrie Hamilton as she began the prosecution's closing arguments in Rod Blagojevich's retrial. 

    Confronting head-on the argument from some that Blagojevich was arrested too soon, Hamilton said "the ask" is what matters, not the "receipt."  She likened the former governor to a corrupt police officer and said the mere act of a cop asking for money to tear up a ticket is a crime.

    Jurors were very attentive as Hamilton meticulously hammered home the government's case. At times, she struck the lectern with her fist.  Visual aids helped her break down the defenses that Blagojevich gave during his seven days on the witness stand.

    She put the text of Blagojevich's phone calls on a large screen, then listed the counts and charges against the former governor.  The word "guilty" then appeared on the screen.

    "The defendant lied to you under oath in this courtroom," she says. "Time and time again... [he] violated that oath... [and] used his powers as governor to get things [for himself]"

    Listening to Hamilton clearly made Blagojevich nervous.  He occasionally shook his head, looked down at the defense table or leaned over to whisper to his attorneys.

    Earlier in the day, Blagojevich's defense team tried to end their case on a positive note, calling a former congressman to refute damaging testimony given early by Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

    Bill Lipinski testified that he never asked Jackson for a contribution to Blagojevich's campaign for governor.

    Previously, Jackson had said that he had turned down such a request, then later saw his wife passed over for state lottery job. He also testified about an encounter in which he said the Elvis fan governor snapped his fingers and said, "You should have given me the $25,000."

    While Lipinski said he never asked Jackson for the contribution, he admitted that he'd contributed $25,000 to Blagojevich’s first campaign and later saw his wife get a job with the state court of claims.

    Prosecutors asked if Lipinski thought Blagojevich was aware of the contribution when the then-governor gave his wife the job.

    "I never thought of him being aware of the $25,000 or not," Lipinski testified. "He was certainly aware of my strong support for him during the course of the primary and general election."

    After the defense team rested its case in late morning, the government called a number of rebuttal witnesses.  Among them was an FBI agent Dan Cain, who testified the agency offered to Blagojevich to have sessions with special agents recorded.  Blagojevich declined, said Cain.

    Another witness, Children's Memorial Hospital CEO Pat Magoon, said it was "memorable" that Blagojevich told him to keep quiet about a major health care announcement.

    The government is expected to wrap up their closing arguments on Thursday.  The defense team will then begin theirs.  Jurors are expected to get the case on Friday.

    Judge James Zagel told jurors Tuesday they need to work Friday to keep them "engaged in deliberations" before the weekend.

    Read the play-by-play of Blagojevich's seventh day on the stand.