updated 5/17/2011 11:13:45 AM ET 2011-05-17T15:13:45

There's no evidence Barack Obama knew that Rod Blagojevich may have sought to trade an appointment to the president-elect's vacated U.S. Senate seat for a Cabinet post or other top administration job, the judge at the ousted Illinois governor's retrial said Monday.

The issue arose at the start of a third week of testimony, which otherwise turned sharply away from the Senate seat charge toward accusations that Blagojevich attempted to shake down executives for campaign cash.

A sometimes-contentious day of testimony began with Judge James Zagel refusing a request from defense lawyers to let them look at FBI interview notes with Obama to see if the Democrat from Chicago ever reported to authorities that Blagojevich had tried to trade the Senate appointment.

Story: Prosecutors keep focus on seat at Blago retrial

"In all honesty, it is possible that the victim of this was busy with other matters at the time," Zagel said about Obama, who is not accused of any wrongdoing in the case. "There is nothing to indicate that he was aware of" any attempted trade.

The defense had hoped to use the notes to show Obama never saw himself as a victim. Zagel said it was irrelevant whether Obama did or didn't: Bank tellers might not know their bank is being robbed, he argued, but that doesn't mean there was no crime.

Story: Blagojevich jury hears expletive-laden recordings

Blagojevich, who has denied any wrongdoing, faces 20 counts, including several linked to the Senate seat allegation. Jurors at his first trial last year deadlocked on all but one charge, convicting him of lying to the FBI.

Prosecutors continued to get witnesses on and off the stand much faster than at the first trial. That could mean the government finishes its case within a week or two.

The chief executive of Children's Memorial Hospital, Patrick Magoon, spent just 30 minutes testifying Monday about how Blagojevich allegedly tried to squeeze him for a $25,000 contribution. He spent hours on the stand at the first trial.

Earlier on Monday, the defense laid into an old Blagojevich friend and former adviser during cross-examination.

Occasionally raising his voice, defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky suggested that John Wyma had betrayed Blagojevich by agreeing to work as an informant for the FBI in 2008.

"So, you elected to be a spy against your friend for the government?" Sorosky asked, clearly attempting to taint Wyma in jurors' eyes. Zagel sustained a prosecutor's objection before Wyma could answer.

Sorosky also picked up on a favorite defense refrain, telling Wyma that talk by Blagojevich about pressuring executives for campaign cash was only that — talk.

"This was just conversation between two pals, right?" he asked — in a question Zagel also ruled out of order.

Video: Jury finds former governor guilty (on this page)

Sorosky repeatedly raised the ire of the judge and prosecutors, including by once suggesting that federal agents employed underhanded tactics to pressed Wyma to turn on his longtime friend.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Blagojevich juror speaks out

  1. Closed captioning of: Blagojevich juror speaks out

    >>> us. good morning to you, sir.

    >> good morning to you.

    >> yesterday after the verdict, rod blagojevich said this was a persecution, they threw everything they could at me, the jury agreed the government did not prove its case. is that how you see it?

    >> personally, no. i saw it as the prosecution did prove its case. there was a difference of opinion and interpretation of the evidence and several people voted not guilty on several counts. as was mentioned there was the 11-1 for a few of the counts.

    >> that one holdout we understand was a retired woman. what was her argument against convicting the ex-governor?

    >> the argument was that he was a politician. he was talking to other politicians. sometimes his fund-raiser, sometimes his chief of staff or deputy governor, and he was just talking. she thought that no crime was being committed. it was just political talk. that was her position. we -- all of us, as a jury, respected her position and her right to have that opinion.

    >> yeah.

    >> it differed from ours.

    >> how would you describe the atmosphere in the jury room?

    >> there were times, especially later on, where the frustration level went up and there was tension, but it was always a feeling of respect for other people's opinions. so there was no shouting. there was no fighting. it was fairly amicable, our deliberations. there were times where there was anger and frustration, but overall, i would say we did respect each other.

    >> you know, you say the government did prove its case but only got a conviction on one count. what do you think was the major flaw in its case?

    >> the major flaw was probably the complexity of the case, the amount of information that we had to digest, the length of the judge's instructions to us that we had to learn legal terms, we had to learn the law and how to apply it to the evidence that was given to us either in witness testimony or in wire-tap conversations.

    >> would you like to see the prosecutors retry the case and, if so, what advice would you give them?

    >> personally, i would. if possible, to streamline the case, concentrate on areas where they have more information and not rely so much on witness testimony which was sometimes weak. that's where we split the most. the vote could be something like five guilty to seven not guilty or it would flip. sometimes it would be 9-3. so it was all over. i think it was a testimony to the jurors that they were deliberating on the basis of evidence and not through bias or discrimination or whatever they heard in the media.

    >> you know, you sound like somebody who is pretty much exhausted and glad this is over. we really appreciate you joining us this morning.

    >> thank you. you're welcome.


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