JUNE 02, 2011
Chicago—Like Isaiah in the Old Testament, Rod Blagojevich wanted to “get the rich to help the poor” when he offered to send Barack Obama’s close friend (Valerie Jarrett) to the U.S. Senate in exchange for a nonprofit set up by wealthy Democratic donors close to the president.The multi million-dollar charity would promote healthcare for children and “working families” and, of course, Blagojevich and his pals would run it. Instead he got criminally charged with a mountain of felonies, including trying to sell the Illinois senate seat vacated when Obama won the 2008 presidential election.On his fifth day testifying in his corruption retrial, Blagojevich continued blaming his trusted advisers for encouraging him to “leverage” his power as governor to appoint a new senator and insisting that he get “something of substance” from the president-elect in return for appointing Jarrett, who ended up going to the White House as a top aide.Blagojevich testified that he never promised or connected any deals to the senate appointment. In fact, he testified that he was only “venting” when he blasted Obama on a secret FBI recording because he offered only to be “grateful and appreciative” in exchange for Jarrett’s appointment. “F_ _ _ them,” Blagojevich is heard saying on the wire tap.That’s when he devised a plan to get Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, to help set up the healthcare nonprofit by hitting up wealthy Democratic donors like leftwing activist George Soros and investor Warren Buffett for money. To put it all in perspective for the jury, Blagojevich interjected the Isaiah Old Testament analogy.After the lunch break Blagojevich addressed recorded conversations previously played by the prosecution in which he discusses getting “tangible” and “concrete” support “up front” from Jesse Jackson Jr. before considering giving him the senate appointment. Jackson Jr. represents Chicago’s south side in the U.S. House and prosecutors have presented evidence that one of his top donors offered Blagojevich $1.5 million to appoint him senator.On Thursday Blagojevich explained to the jury that he was simply referring to “political support up front.” Prosecutors began cross examining Blagojevich late in the afternoon, with less than an hour before proceedings broke until Monday.
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