Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been charged with corruption for — among other things — allegedly attempting to sell Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder. Blagojevich has not been hiding from the public eye. Since being charged, he has appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and competed in The Celebrity Apprentice (Donald Trump fired him in the fourth episode).
The trial is set for June 3. Blagojevich’s defense team is sparring with federal prosecutors over the 500 hours of recordings from secret FBI wiretaps, and how they should be used at trial. The big-haired former governor wants jurors to sit through 200 hours of tape.
Blagojevich’s love of being on camera has not faded. He has a J.D. from Pepperdine, but must have a certification in spin and cliché from some other venerable institution. He issued a challenge to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald at a press conference on Tuesday. The bombastic display drew media cameras, but didn’t do much to bring the judge around to his side. A round-up of Blagojevichisms from Tuesday’s press conference, after the jump.
Video of the press conference is on NECN. Here are some choice quotes from Blagojevich’s attack on federal prosecutors.
- “In their proffer of lies, they are now hitting below the belt and attacking my wife.”
- “They are cowards and they are liars.”
- “The government is sneaking into court tomorrow to file a motion to keep all the tapes from being heard.”
- “There’s a smoking gun on those tapes.”
- “They’re covering up that big lie that foreseeably led to a chain of events that stole a governor from the people of Illinois and undid the will of the people.”
- “I’m here today to issue a challenge… I challenge Mr. Fitzgerald. Why don’t you show up in court tomorrow and explain to everybody, explain to the whole world why you don’t want all those tapes that you made played in court? I’ll be in court tomorrow. I hope you’re man enough to be there too.
Federal prosecutors were “man enough” to “sneak” into court and explain why they don’t want to bore jurors to tears. The judge agreed with them. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
“I will not allow the legal equivalent of a head butt,” said U.S. District Judge James Zagel, who made it crystal clear that he — and only he — will decide which secret FBI wiretaps will be played at Blagojevich’s trial.
“I will not have the time of these jurors needlessly consumed,” Zagel said of playing all 500 hours of recordings.
Future jurors rejoice.
Blagojevich’s loose relationship with the law might be explained by this quote (via Wikipedia): “I went to law school at a place called Pepperdine in Malibu, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean — a lot of surfing and movie stars and all the rest. I barely knew where that law library was.”