10 Things the Government Wants You to Know About Blago - NBC Chicago
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10 Things the Government Wants You to Know About Blago



    At 5:01 p.m. on Tuesday, the prosecution rested.

    With the government case now in his jury's collective memory, Rod Blagojevich will begin a defense which will determine whether he remains a disgraced ex-governor but a free reality star or goes to a federal penitentiary to work on the long awaited sequel of his already published memoirs.

    The jury can't read it, but for you, here's a quick summation of the top 10 things we learned from the government's case:

    1) Rod Blagojevich wanted out.  Badly.
    In repeated phone calls and secretly recorded conversations in his campaign office, Rod Blagojevich told staffers he was sick of being governor.  It was a dead-end job which had taken on a "been there, done that" aura.

    More than anything, that feeling appears to have become the launching pad for his repeated efforts to get something for Barack Obama's Senate seat: a cabinet position, a job at a think tank or charity, or even a new foundation which he would head up himself. Anything to get out of the job the voters gave him.

    2) Blagojevich knew he was about to be impeached
    He felt it was purely political and repeatedly ranted about how he was being damned for trying to get the will of the people done by end-running a recalcitrant legislature. On a call from November 10, 2008, he spoke about the fact that an impeachment was imminent, and he might stave it off simply by announcing he was not going to seek a third term.

    3) Blagojevich spent A LOT of money
    Every crime needs a motive, and the jury was left with an image of a Rod Blagojevich who was drowning in debt and seemingly obsessed with finding a better job which would pay him a lot more.

    An IRS agent testified about his $20,000 suit shopping sprees and his taste of really expensive neckwear.  And she said his credit balance alone was over $200,000.

    On the undercover tapes, as aides would go through the motions of describing outside jobs they claimed to have researched, his first question was frequently, "What does it pay?"

    4) The Senate scenario was almost constantly changing
    Blagojevich dazzled his aides with an almost never-ending barrage of ideas about how the soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat might be leveraged to his advantage.  What started out with a hope of a cabinet position, morphed into a desire to be named an ambassador to an exotic location, then a hope of heading up a labor union's national political operation.

    Lastly, he wanted a message sent to Rahm Emanuel that he hoped to start a new non-profit organization which he would head if Emanuel would lean on rich friends to fund it.

    5) The Senate candidates changed with the winds
    Blagojevich was always willing to appoint Valerie Jarrett, the president's obvious choice, but on the tapes he expressed a feeling that he was just flat-out due something in return.  And when it became obvious he wasn't going to get it, he started going through a variety of scenarios to make the Obama forces get his point.

    First and foremost, he wanted to leak that he was seriously considering Jesse Jackson, Jr., a choice he thought the Obama White House wouldn't like. Then when Jarrett withdrew from contention, he considered Attorney General Lisa Madigan, but wanted promises of political help from her father (who he despised).

    In the end, just before his arrest, Blagojevich had reportedly learned that forces close to Jackson would help raise $1 million for his campaign fund. He started to really like Jesse Jackson Jr. at that point.

    6) Jesse Jackson Jr. comes out of this looking terrible
    You may remember that news conference the day after Blagojevich's arrest, where Jackson insisted he had never sent an emissary or taken part in a deal to get the Senate seat.

    Unfortunately for Jackson, that purported emissary testified at the trial.  Rajinder Bedi, a onetime state official, testified that he attended a meeting at the 312 Restaurant in the loop with Jackson and a businessman who promised to raise the money if Jackson was appointed to the seat.

    The congressman has denied impropriety, but on subsequent recordings, it is evident that Blagojevich was very aware of the offer.

    7) The Senate seat gets the headlines, but the Children's Hospital shakedown may bother more people
    Actually, it involved a plan to increase the Medicaid reimbursement rates for pediatric doctors statewide.  But witnesses testified that Blagojevich expressed interest in leaning on the head of Children's, Patrick Magoon, who had lobbied for the increase, for a $50,000 campaign contribution.

    And in a phone call, he seemed to be suggesting that they hold up the benefit when Magoon wasn't coming through with the money. (The defense argued he was merely concerned that the funding increase would cause problems with the state budget). In the end, the campaign request was for $25,000, not $50,000, but Magoon testified that he felt "threatened and at risk."

    8) Blagojevich friends? Not so much
    Rod Blagojevich had to sit in court and watch as those who were closest to him for virtually his entire political career testified about his alleged misdeeds.

    It started with former chief of staff Lon Monk, who took part in Blagojevich's wedding, continued through the last chief of staff John Harris and included deputy governors Bradley Tusk and John Greenlee.

    On the prosecution's last day, they presented the testimony of John Wyma. He was once chief of staff in Blagojevich's congressional office. But he also is the witness who actually took evidence to the FBI. Most of these one-time friends had grants of immunity. And very few made eye contact with the defendant.

    9) The bad stuff started early
    Prosecutors alleged, and Monk testified, that almost from day one, there were plans to divide up the spoils of state government. Monk described a meeting where he said convicted Blagojevich confidant Tony Rezko put schemes on a chart.

    The defense scored points on cross examination when Monk couldn't seem to remember what those schemes were.

    10) America heard about the Senate seat, but the jury heard plenty more
    There was an allegation of a shakedown of a racetrack owner for campaign cash. And a north side school. And construction executives who wanted an expansion of the tollway.  There were charges that he wanted a job for Patti Blagojevich with firms which did state business and explored the idea of punishing companies which weren't helpful with that effort. There was testimony that Patti essentially had a ghost job with Rezko's real estate firm. And alleged plots to shake down numerous companies wanting business from state boards and commissions.  And of course, an angry attempt to get the Tribune editorial board fired at a time the parent company wanted state help to sell Wrigley Field.

    The defense asks a good question: show us the money. And they are right. No one can place any money in Rod Blagojevich's pocket.  Prosecutors argue they don't have to.

    They will tell the jury that they have more than demonstrated intent and what are known as "acts in furtherance of the conspiracy."

    Every time a phone call was made to explore an idea further or a memo was generated or a meeting held, the government contends it can be construed as such an act.  Defense lawyers say it was all just talk and note that none of the alleged schemes came to fruition.

    Blagojevich's lawyers say they will argue that if the governor did anything wrong, he didn't intend to, and truly believed everything he was doing was legal. 

    They will start presenting that argument next Monday.

    "Now the process to prove my innocence begins, and I will prove my innocence," Blagojevich told reporters as he departed court Tuesday. "And I will testify."