Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich described the federal prosecutors who have brought racketeering and fraud charges against him as "cowards" and "liars" Tuesday and challenged Chicago's U.S. attorney to meet him face to face in court if he is "man enough."
In an extraordinary outburst timed to go live on evening news shows, Blagojevich said prosecutors had treated his wife unfairly and were now "sneaking into court" in an effort to prevent jurors from hearing all of the tapes the FBI made of his telephone conversations.
"They are cowards and they are liars," Blagojevich said, raising his voice as he stood before a battery of cameras in front of his lawyer's South Side office.
"They know when all those tapes will be played they will show I've done nothing wrong and will prove my innocence," the impeached former governor said. He and his attorneys left without taking questions.
Addressing U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald through the cameras, Blagojevich said: "I'll be in court tomorrow and I hope you are man enough to be there, too."
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, Randall Samborn, had no comment on Blagojevich's remarks.
U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday to discuss motions being filed as preparations for the trial go into their final six weeks.
Blagojevich is charged with scheming to misuse his power as governor to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat by selling or trading President Obama's former seat and illegally pressuring potential donors for campaign contributions.
His brother, businessman Robert Blagojevich, is charged with helping him.
Both brothers have pleaded not guilty to all charges and denied any wrongdoing.
Rod Blagojevich's attorneys, Sam Adam and Sheldon Sorosky, did not immediately respond to phone messages Tuesday evening seeking comment.
Their client called the news conference promising to make his strongest statement to date about the corruption case against him. During his two minute rant, Blagojevich ripped into prosecutors for saying in a court filing that his wife made thousands of dollars as an employee of convicted fixer Tony Rezko without working for it. He said she was a professional and a "devoted mother."
"Every penny she earned she worked for," he said.
He accused Fitzgerald of telling a "big lie" about him and repeatedly said he wanted all of the FBI's tapes played for the jury.
"The reason they won't play all those tapes is they're covering up that big lie that foreseeably led to a chain of events that stole a governor for the people of Illinois and undid the will of the people," he said.