AUGUST 18, 2010
Even the jury foreman (and an overwhelming number of jurors) in Rod Blagojevich’s corruption trial thinks the ousted Illinois governor got off easy and that there should have been a “unanimous verdict for guilty” but one holdout saved the disgraced politician from conviction on the most serious counts involving President Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat.
A collective sigh of relief must be resonating from the White House, considering the president and his top two advisers (Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett) were embroiled in Blagojevich’s scheme to sell the senate seat and their names were repeatedly mentioned throughout the trial. In fact, several witnesses testified that both Obama and Emanuel had contact with the Blagojevich Administration regarding the senate appointment and that Jarrett wanted the post.
That appears to be water under the bridge, at least for now. An unidentified woman was the only juror who refused to convict Blagojevich on three key counts—conspiracy to commit extortion, attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit bribery—related to his scheme to sell Obama’s old senate seat. A few others refused to convict on the other charges and the jury deadlocked on 23 of the 24 counts, returning a guilty verdict for lying to the FBI about tracking campaign contributions.
Small as it may seem compared to the other charges, that still makes the famously crooked ex governor a convicted felon facing up to five years in jail. Federal prosecutors assure they’ll retry Blagojevich on the multiple charges of bribery, extortion and conspiracy that the jury failed to unanimously decide while the perpetually cocky politician assures they have no case.
Except for one “nebulous charge from five years ago,” the government could not prove any wrongdoing or that laws were broken, Blagojevich said outside the
For years Blagojevich, a pugnacious two-term governor, has been under federal investigation for selling the influence of his office, lucrative state jobs and contracts to the highest bidder. As part of the probe the FBI began to secretly record his conversations a few years ago and the wiretaps became the center of the prosecution’s case.
The tapes, largely featuring Blagojevich’s crude tirades, were played throughout the summer-long trial, which was covered live by Judicial Watch. The former governor repeatedly uses profanity and routinely employs the F word to describe Obama, who he refers to as a “motherf _ _ _er.” In one segment Blagojevich considers appointing himself senator if he doesn’t get the right bribe from Obama; “I really believe the worst thing Obama wants is me going there,” Blagojevich says in the secret FBI recordings.
Throughout the trial Blagojevich confidently strolled around the courthouse shaking hands with well-wishers, waving and winking at the sizeable crowds that gathered daily to get a peek as he walked by with his entourage. His defense team didn’t call a single witness because “the government proved that I never took a corrupt dollar, I never took a corrupt dime, not a corrupt nickel, not a corrupt penny,” Blagojevich said.
One local newspaper editorial points out that, despite the disappointing mistrial, Blagojevich is still guilty of being a lazy and miserable governor who would have and could have sold out his state for the most selfish personal gain. The piece recounts various shameful Blagojevich Administration anecdotes.
Judicial Watch has for years investigated the massive corruption in the Blagojevich Administration. In 2006 Blagojevich refused a Judicial Watch public records request for subpoenas relating to his federal probe and in 2007 Judicial Watch filed an open records lawsuit in
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