Judicial Watch • Blagojevich Trial Breaks For Prominent Defense Witnesses

Blagojevich Trial Breaks For Prominent Defense Witnesses

Blagojevich Trial Breaks For Prominent Defense Witnesses

MAY 23, 2011

With the prosecution resting after only three weeks, there’s a break in Rod Blagojevich’s corruption retrial because the impeached governor’s defense team is calling witnesses of “prominence” with scheduling conflicts.Those who have been subpoenaed include top White House aides, a couple of U.S. Senators and a congressman. They are “prominent people whose names you have heard,” according to Blagojevich’s attorney. The two-term Illinois governor, charged with 20 counts including trying to sell President Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat, may also take the stand.Then again, his lawyers promised to call high-profile witnesses at his first trial last summer and it never happened. They also said that Blagojevich would testify but he never did. In fact, the defense didn’t call any witnesses in the first trial, which dragged on for eight weeks. The jury deadlocked on all but one count (lying to the FBI) which still makes Blagojevich a convicted felon.The same Chicago federal courtroom has hosted both trials, but the second has been anticlimactic with little interest outside of local media. Absent are the hoards of national press and spectators that required an overflow courtroom. Also missing are the sizeable crowds that gathered daily to take pictures or get a peek of the former governor who shakes hands, waves and winks at anyone who makes eye contact with him.The first Blagojevich trial “kept us riveted from the very beginning,” according to a local newspaper editorial. “The sequel, on the other hand, has been more like background noise to many Illinois residents.” That’s because there’s really nothing new and people have “grown tired of Blagojevich’s antics outside of court,” according to the piece.The excitement will suddenly pick up if Blagojevich or any of his high-profile witnesses take the stand. Those who have been subpoenaed: Obama’s former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who was recently sworn in as Chicago mayor; U.S. senators Dick Durbin and Harry Reid; White House advisor Valerie Jarrett and Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.As Obama’s top aide, Emanuel pushed Blagojevich to appoint Jarrett to the Illinois Senate seat vacated after the presidential election, according to trial testimony from Blagojevich’s one-time chief-of-staff. A longtime friend and confidante of Obama’s, Jarrett eventually followed him to the White House and serves as a key advisor.Jackson Jr., who represents Chicago’s south side in the U.S. House, and his top fundraiser colluded to buy the senate appointment for $1 million, according to trial testimony. The son of the world-renowned “civil rights” con man directed the fundraiser to make Blagojevich the campaign cash offer in exchange for Jackson’s appointment. Jackson denies involvement in the media so his testimony under oath will be quite interesting.Judicial Watch has for years investigated the massive corruption in the Blagojevich Administration and has covered both trials live. In 2006 Blagojevich refused a Judicial Watchpublic records request for subpoenas relating to the federal probe of his crooked administration and in 2007 Judicial Watch filed an open records lawsuit in Cook County Courtto obtain them. In 2009 Judicial Watch obtained public records that prove Obama and Blagojevich had repeated contact after Obama became president even though the White House has vehemently denied it.

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