Video: Blagojevich corruption trial begins

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    >>> to "hardball."

    >>> welcome back to "hardball." the federal corruption trial of ousted illinois governor , rod blagojevich kicked off today. he's charged with 24 criminal counts, all felonies including bribery, racketeering, attempted extortion. perhaps the most sensational base on his alleged attempts to sell president obama 's senate seat. white house rahm emanual and senior adviser valerie jarrett. and after a year-long celebrity blitz, here's what the impeached former governor said in a radio interview on wednesday.

    >> i can't wait to get on there, i swear on the holy bible to tell the whole truth and to begin to give clarification and explanations and confront my accusers and confront those who are lying.

    >> the washington bureau chief of the " chicago sun -times" and the msnbc political contributor and the chuck columnist for "the new york times" and businessman. i want to start with lynn and then to jim .

    >> does blago know what blago has done? does he have the sanity and the ability to remember what was taped?

    >> my guess is no, he doesn't and by now he's created, my guess is knowing the guy, although i haven't talked to him since he was arrested. that he thinks that if all of these tapes are played, there will be not be a word --

    >> jim , is that your conclusion that he doesn't know what he said that he's incriminated by, perhaps?

    >> no. i don't know if he believes that. but i certainly think he believes that it's all quote politics. and anything that we might consider a quid pro quo is just sort of the normal business of a big-time governor.

    >> yes, but the one case that's we've been talking about around here -- if he's caught on tape, planning or conspiring to give that senate seat away and to get a job for himself, a private-sector job in the labor room or elsewhere that gets him an income, is that criminal? and doesn't he know it? why doesn't he know it? he must remember that.

    >> yeah, he'll be reminded. i think the audio portion of this is absolutely critical. even though if you believe like i do that this is going to be a primer for all americans about how government works every single day in every state capital , every big-time city. the fact that you're going to be hearing it i think is going to make a huge difference. plus i don't thisnk a national audience realizes that over the last year have come a series of top blagojevich aides who have admitted to everything from kick-backs to illegal quid pro he quos and you have the matters of the absolutely brazen attempt by governor blagojevich to get $50,000 from the head of the most esteemed children's hospital. telling him unless you give me the 50 grand i'm going 0 to hold up $8 million which the legislation has already appropriated for you. just imagine what a jury will think if that testimony plays out.

    >> let's not get too hairy. but i have remembered a conversation i had with somebody in philadelphia about a u.s. senator that told somebody, some university, you got your $12 million, now i want $100,000 in campaign contributions by may 30th . is that illegal?

    >> it may be. the line is bright to a prosecutor. not so bright probably to someone who is soliciting contributions. if --

    >> but this stuff, jim says, goes on all the time. he said this is picking up the rock of politics and seeing the bug life underneath. do you buy that?

    >> you know, the what's legal is a crime? what is legal is a crime. why do you think people go to venters for political contributions.

    >> you mean people that do business with the government?

    >> yes, when you look at who contributes.

    >> it's called the contractors, it's called legal business, they want the legal notices. they want the underwriting, the financial houses.

    >> that's why if you look at the financial committees in congress who donates. that's -- the point about this trial --

    >> and lawyers want to be judges.

    >> rod blagojevich would like nothing more than to make this whole trial about american politics , about illinois and chicago politics, because that buttresses his point, he's doing nothing wrong.

    >> let's circle the wagons here. why do you think every law firm is good for bundlers? why is it good to get a lawyer to get a bunch of lawyers together to bundle monday sni? why would lawyers want to give money to politicians?

    >> well noted nationally, as a nationally-respected bug life inspector, the reasons are obvious. you're potentially going to get big business . and there's a lot of stuff that we as reporters don't ever follow. like big bond business going to law firms that specialize in that sort of stuff. and it's substantial monies from the public trough for the white collar folks. now it may be as michael kinsley said long ago that the most outrageous stuff is the stuff that's legal. but i do think that tape is going to make the difference. there are a bunch of top aides who pleaded guilty or who will be testifying for the government. and i think they could be very damaging.

    >> is he right? it could -- could blagojevich be right by saying i've sat around and basically bsed with my staff guides about ways that i could leverage this appointment to leverage this seat of barack obama . how could i raise money for this? who would give me money for my campaign treasury, what kind of bank shots, if i hit this one person and someone else does me a favor. somebody wants this, somebody wants jesse jackson jr . that's what he was doing, he was speculating with his staff about who might benefit and want to pay to benefit from an appointment of one of these guys or women to be the senator. right? is that a crime?

    >> and he's saying, you're criminalizing some bs conversations of just --

    >> do you believe in that, warren? is that kind of generalized conversation, sitting in the office thinking how can i leverage this appointment to fill the seat of barack obama . how can i get something out of it to pay off my campaign debts. is that a crime?

    >> it conceivably could be, particularly if you put it in the context, and there's allegations here of personal enrichment, chris. not just money going to the campaign fund. but there's suggestions that he was out to personally enrich himself. remember you've also got the allegation of no-show real estate work sengtsly and splitting of fees by his wife. you've got suggestions that there was some remodeling work done on the home in exchange for state business. so it will all be the context in which that is placed. and i do think potentially without knowing what the tapes say, that the audio could be absolutely damaging for a bunch of normal americans.

    >> here's some interesting slop. blagojevich was asked if there was a comparison to be made between what he did and what was offered to joe sestak . we all know about that. joe sestak was offered something by the white house , let's listen.

    >> so starting tomorrow, when this case begins, the truth was put in the lock box by these prosecutors who falsely accuse me of things and have lied. we're going to unlock the lock box tomorrow when we start out in court and the truth will come out and people will see exactly what's happened here and among the things you'll see is yes, the answer is yes, your aknollgy between sestak and me and a lot of the same players are involved.

    >> what a great trouble-maker this guy is. what do you think, lynn?

    >> i think if he -- even though rahm emanual was subpoenaed, did t doesn't mean for sure he'll testify. but that's exactly the point that rod blagojevich wants to make. so you're talking to you know, to this guy about appointments, you're deputy, jim mussina, that's the story today, went to another candidate in colorado and we have email to show it. what did i do that was wrong or different than anyone else who is not in trouble? now -- there is a difference of course in the circumstances.

    >> and also the charges. the charges that have been raised by the republicans, sean hannity and others, are basically misdemeanor, fines. what this guy is up on is serious felony charges like racketeering.

    >> that's why you're in the federal court . these are, you'll have pretty serious judge. i bet there will be a lot of arguments over what's jermaine and not germane. this is like the confessions of eddy coyle. it's dark, dirty, it's under that rock. jim warren , the bug life, under the rock. thank you so much. jim warren out in

By
updated 6/8/2010 10:28:09 AM ET 2010-06-08T14:28:09

Opening statements will be delivered Tuesday in former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's federal corruption trial, and if you want to know what he thinks, well, check his tweets. His wife, Patti, is also on Twitter.

"Looking forward to opening statements because that will unlock the truth... stay tuned," Blagojevich sent out under his twitter name, GovernorRod, on Monday morning. A bit earlier he tweeted about an appearance he was making on a Chicago radio show. "i'm on with don and roma," he messaged, referring to WLS-AM radio hosts. As of Monday evening, he had 819 followers on his Twitter account.

Blagojevich, 53, pleaded not guilty to 24 counts — the most sensational that he tried to sell President Obama's former Illinois Senate seat. Blagojevich's defense team has subpoenaed White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett. FBI wiretaps recorded Blagojevich and Emanuel discussing the potential appointment of Jarrett to Obama's seat.

While the Senate appointment has drawn the most headlines, Blagojevich is also accused of a variety of other schemes, from kickbacks to trying to shake down an executive at a Chicago children's hospital for campaign contributions.

Impeached and ousted in 2009, Blagojevich, a flamboyant and amusing character, went on to hire a publicity firm that launched him on a most unusual path for a disgraced defendant facing charges that could send him to prison until he is an old man: booking him on every television and radio show that would have him.

The strategy seemed to have several goals: to make Blagojevich a personality who could earn some money from his infamy — a book, television and radio gigs — and give him multiple platforms to proclaim his innocence.

Blagojevich was on Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" last March, eventually getting booted off the show. And last year, Blagojevich's wife, Patti, ate a tarantula when she was on the reality TV show, "I'm a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here."

Patti Blagojevich, though not charged, is portrayed in court documents as a ghost payroller at a firm run by convicted political fixer Tony Rezko.

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Mrs. Blagojevich is also tweeting — Twitter name PBlagojevich — and on Monday, as the jury was being selected for her husband's trial in the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago's Loop, here is what she had on her mind:

"# Wondering if I have time to get to macy's to get the lip gloss Amy wants for her graduation night," she said, a reference to their daughter, who is graduating from eighth grade.

The Blagojevichs will both be in the courtroom, and Mrs. Blagojevich was getting things done at home to prepare, she tweeted Sunday. "Just got done doing all the chores I won't have time to do this week-groceries,laundry etc. etc."

There is intense media interest in the trial, as she tweeted at 8:21 a.m. June 4: "Helicopters still overhead, starting to feel like Jack Bauer from the tv show 24." Mrs. Blagojevich on Monday night had 121 followers.

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U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel is expected finalize jury selection and swear in the panel on Tuesday, with opening arguments to follow. Blagojevich's lawyer, Sam Adam Jr., asked for 2 hours and 30 minutes to outline his defense. Zagel gave him one hour and 45 minutes. Blagojevich's brother, Robert, 54, is also a defendant; he also has plead not guilty. His opening is expected to take an hour. The federal prosecutors go first, and they will take about an hour to make their case.

Before going to court, Blagojevich guested on a radio show.

"It¹s good to be in the courtroom," Blagojevich said on the air, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. "It's the beginning of the process that will unlock the truth."

© 2013 PoliticsDaily.com

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