Patti Pops Off at Blago Retrial - NBC Chicago

Patti Pops Off at Blago Retrial

Ex-governor's wife claims "deliberate attempt to hide the truth"



    The strongest reaction to Monday's developments at the Rod Blagovich trial came from the defendant's wife.

    Patti Blagojevich stopped and spoke with reporters after testimony wrapped up, and reacted strongly to the day's proceedings.

    "After sitting in that courtroom all day, I almost wanted to cry. I can't believe what I saw. A deliberate attempt to hide the truth," the former governor's wife said.

    Prosecutors objected to more than 160 defense questions posed to Blagojevich's former chief of staff, John Harris, most of which were sustained by U.S. District Judge James Zagel.

    Blago Retrial: Patti Pops Off

    [CHI] Blago Retrial: Patti Pops Off
    The ex-governor's wife has some pointed words about the court's proceedings.
    (Published Monday, May 9, 2011)

    Defense attorney Aaron Goldstein was chastised twice by Zagel for trying to bring evidence into trial that had already been excluded. But the defense did get Harris to admit that the first thing he did after he was arrested was lie to the FBI.

    The alleged deal to sell the senatorial seat once held by President Barack Obama continued to be the center of the prosecution's case.

    Tom Balanoff, a top union official, testified that Obama had indicated before the election that he wanted Valerie Jarrett as a White House adviser, but that she wanted to be a senator instead. Balanoff said he tried to convince Blagojevich to name Jarrett to the seat, but was taken aback when Blagojevich suggested he would like to become U.S. health and human services secretary in return.

    After making it clear that that wouldn't happen, Balanoff said Blagojevich then tried to float the idea of establishing a nonprofit organization focused on health care, with millions of dollars in seed money from the likes of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, that Blagojevich could run when he left the governor's office. Balanoff said he tried to tell Blagojevich that also was not a realistic idea without coming right out and saying it.

    "I was trying to let him know that this wasn't going to happen," Balanoff said.

    Blagojevich attorney Aaron Goldstein pressed Balanoff about whether the former governor ever asked specifically for the Cabinet post in exchange for naming Jarrett to the Senate seat.

    "Those were not his specific words," Balanoff said. "But I felt that's what he was implying."

    Obama, Balanoff and Jarrett have not been accused of any wrongdoing in the case.

    Blagojevich, 54, faces 20 charges at the retrial, all of them underpinned by FBI wiretap evidence. He denies wrongdoing. Blagojevich's initial trial ended last year with jurors deadlocked on all but one charge, lying to the FBI.