Blago Goes Quietly Into The Night

Remember when Rod Blagojevich was making all kinds of noise about calling Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Durbin and Reid, Valerie Jarrett and taking the witness grand stand himself to tell his side of the story in his defense to the criminal prosecution by Pat Fitzgerald and his NDIL team of prosecutors?

Well all the Blago fireworks were duds, most precluded by a strict trial judge, James Zagel, through granting prosecution motions to preclude. And then, a little over a week ago, came the crushing blow that even Hot Rod himself would not take the stand in his own defense.

Standing before a crush of reporters, cameras and microphones, Rod Blagojevich said he wanted to take the stand in his defense but instead took the advice of his attorney Sam Adam Sr., who convinced him the prosecution hadn’t proved its corruption case.

“I felt all along and believed all along that I was going to testify,” he said in the lobby of the federal courthouse.

The former governor said the government’s case wasn’t as they presented it, noting prosecutors didn’t call witnesses Antoin “Tony” Rezko and Stuart Levine, both convicted in the federal probe.

With Adam disagreeing with his son Sam Adam Jr. over his testimony, Blagojevich said he picked the elder attorney’s advice.

“Sam Junior still at this moment wanted me to testify and, frankly, so did I,” Blagojevich said.

He said the decision was discussed late into Monday night.

“Sam Adam Sr.’s most compelling argument — and ultimately the one that swayed me — was that the government in their case proved my innocence,” he said. “They proved I did nothing illegal and that there was nothing further for us to add.

The anticipated Blago fireworks fizzled so badly that the media have taken to calling it a “victory” for Democrats just in order to find something – anything – to talk about for their coverage:

“They dodged a bullet because it would have been weeks of dragging in these high-level people and talking about the schemes and all that,” Illinois GOP chairman Pat Brady said.

Blagojevich’s attorneys had plastered Washington and Illinois with subpoenas. Besides Emanuel, Reid and Giannoulias, his lawyers also initially wanted Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin to appear. They even wanted to subpoena Obama, but weren’t allowed to by a judge.

That none of them ended up testifying doesn’t mean Republicans will let voters forget that Blagojevich is a Democrat as they try to pry loose the party’s grip on the Senate seat and Illinois state government.

And other issues, like Illinois’ $13 billion deficit, help mitigate the damage of the Blagojevich trial, said DePaul University political science professor Michael Mezey.

“It’s going to be yesterday’s news by the time election season starts Labor Day,” he said.

I am not sure this is any big “victory” for Democrats, but there is some merit to the thought that Blago is just such a goofball that he will not be that much of a drain on Illinois Dems in the upcoming election. Especially when one of the top of the ticket candidates there, Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias has his own issues to keep the Chitown media hopping.

The fascinating thing here is how hollow the entire Blago defense turned out to be. When I use the term “defense” that would be rather loosely because there was no defense case presented. At all. Now it is never easy for a defense attorney to put his client on the stand, and it is rarely a good idea. That logic probably maintains here; actually it almost undoubtedly maintains here with a wildcard like Blagojevich.

But to have left the jurors with no defense case whatsoever after all the bluster, sturm and drang? That is brutal, and no matter how Blago and his attorneys paint it, it is throwing in the towel and moving the focus to an appeal. There is simply no other way to look at it. Despite all the noise and antics, Blago has gone quietly into the night.

The only thing left is to receive the verdict. Today, Judge Zagel denied the obligatory defense motion for a mistrial that is made when the defense knows they are sunk. Zagel also denied a request from the jury for transcripts of the closing argument by the prosecution. Probably not a good sign for the defendant when the jury wants more of the prosecution’s closing.

There is little, if any, reason to expect anything but a guilty verdict on most, if not all, counts. The only question is when the verdict will come down. Today is Friday and the jury has been out since Wednesday. Juries like to wrap things up and not have to come back after weekends, so there is a very decent chance we will have a verdict today. If and when it comes down, this post will be updated with the verdict.

  1. ToddE says:

    blago’s a dick.

    no one in Illinois likes him that isn’t from Chicago.

    Down state we call him: ChicagaBitch.

  2. BoxTurtle says:

    I’m just trying to get a grip on his lawyers statemnt that the governmet hasn’t proven it’s case. I grant that the govenrments case isn’t a slam dunk, but without at least a rebuttal the defense will go down.

    Assumption: Blago didn’t hire idiot lawyers.

    Given that, they need to at least establish something to hang an appeal on. I’m with bmaz, this is acknowledging that they’re going to lose. But I’m not seeing a viable path to a successful appeal. And if Blago was going to bargain, he’d have done so by now.

    Boxturtle (If I’m prosecutor, the only bargain I’d offer is something along the lines of “Be my b***h for a quarter)

    • bmaz says:

      Oh, I dunno. There was a LOT of evidence that Blago wanted to present that the court refused to let them get into. The refusal to let them get at the WH people for depos and trial etc. The comments of Fitz when he announced the charges and other alleged conduct of the prosecution team. There are plenty of quite cognizable grounds for appeal. Not saying he wins an appeal, but there are very legitimate arguments.

      • Mary says:

        I wondered what you or any of the other litigators would think. I haven’t followed that closely and I know they played around with the charges earlier to get around what happened with the Sup Ct on the theft of honest services aspects, but to the extent that the charges involve actually showing that he didn’t just talk like an idiot about his golden eggs and geese and actually took some kinds of steps towards commission for selling the position, I’ve missed what they were (but haven’t followed that closely so that doesn’t mean they didn’t prove that)

        I’d say jury instructions may be pretty important on this one, but with the big presser and theatrics surrounding the arrest and the strength of the USA’s popularity in IL, you’d kind of think there’s no option but guilty for the jury. Still, this whole area of the law is one where I’m never all that comfortable with prosecutions. Blago is a jerk – sure he is – and he may or may not have done something really bad if things went on. But contrast him with Bush and the DOJ and the USAtty firings.

        Why do we authorize DOJ to crucify other people (and he does have kids whose father might end up in prison) on these kinds of quasi political grounds while at the same exonerating themselves from any wrongdoing for firing attys who didn’t take the right political line in their prosecutions.

        From a priorities standpoint – well, let’s just say I’d rather see some of the resources devoted to a political trial of Blago instead focused on the murderers of kids in Chicago (it’s a freakin epidemic). And I think it’s pretty much crap for any of the USA offices to be putting headlocks on slimey govs when they are all working voluntarily for torturers and guys who order up assassinations. Blago was maybe about ready to sell the Senate office – but the DOJ lawyers over the last decade have absoutely sold themselves over and over. That ACLU report on how normal is chaning under Obama – for once I’ll cut Obama a bit of slack, bc he never could have accomplished what he has without a phalanx of lawyers who let him and led him.

      • BoxTurtle says:

        Yes, the judge excluded a lot of potential witnesses. But you’re going to have a hard time convincing an appeals court that Obama’s testimony is required. Ditto Rahm.

        I couldn’t find a link to Fitz’s comments, so can’t say. What prosecutor conduct is alleged?

        Boxturtle (Assumes appeals judges are as good at translating bullcrap as trial judges)

  3. ghostof911 says:

    I am not sure this is any big “victory” for Democrats

    A true victory for the party is if he gets tossed in the slammer. That will send a message to the pols: if you want act like Blago, join the other side where you belong.

  4. fatster says:

    Please pardon me for this interruption, but I had never heard of the Leahy Law. I just learned of it in this context (which is important enough in and of itself):

    Report Suggests ‘Correlation’ between U.S. Aid and Army Killings

    ‘”There are alarming links between increased reports of extrajudicial executions of civilians by the Colombian army and units that receive U.S. military financing,” John Lindsay-Poland, lead author of a two-year study on the question, told IPS.
    . . .
    “The report, produced in conjunction with the U.S. Office on Colombia (USOC), studies the application in Colombia of the so-called Leahy Law, passed in 1996, which bans military assistance to a foreign security force unit if the U.S. State Department has credible evidence that the unit has committed gross human rights violations.”

    We need one of those Leahy Laws here in the old USA.

      • fatster says:

        I meant, if I understand it correctly, that we need some protection from the policy that a president can order any of us assassinated. LINK.

        • DWBartoo says:

          I can only, and most certainly agree fatster,

          That our nation has come, secretly, brutally, outside and beyond of the rule of law, to this arrogant assumption of unquestioned and unquestionable righteousness, is a corruption and a failure most foul.

          That any, any one or any ones or even many ones, in concert, have assumed such power is an affront of such magnitude … to reason, to justice, and to humanity as to render the notion of civilization or national “purpose to the level of vile, brutish evil.

          One wonders if redemption is likely … or even possible.


  5. Stephen says:

    One does wonder how much leverage he is applying and if it has been effective. Who knows, if no jail time is the result.

  6. Mary says:

    OT- but there’s a great diay by Lt Col Barry Wingard at the Seminal that probably won’t – on a Friday – get the attention it deserves

    It’s a very good piece.

    The thing is, these days, I think I’m almost as worried, with what has become of the bench, about what will happen to law in this nation if the cases do go to courts as if they don’t.

    It hasn’t been pleasant so far, watching government torture become a non-issue for the courts.

  7. Swopa says:

    To those of us who watched the Libby trial up close, this is all very familiar (Libby was going to testify, call Cheney, maybe Rove and other WH officials, etc.).

    I presume the intent both then and now is just to waste as much of the prosecution’s time as possible preparing to question phantom witnesses.

    • Mary says:

      Karl Rove walked and is a national new commenator, proferred up for the truths of the matters he asserts over and over; Cheney walked and ended up on political talk shows (being given huge deference) more frequently than when he was still VP. Libby himself didn’t end up in prison and he’s got a nice check coming to him consistently. So some of what happened in Libby’s investigation and trial might not have been just to waste time.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, good point. Blago is so freaking crazy though, I bet he actually wanted to take the stand and the elder Adam put him straight. Either way, the result is the same, a lot of noise for nothing. Personally, my rule is never tell the jury you are going to present testimony you are not sure you can produce; they remember things like that. It is just a killer.

  8. oldhippiejan says:

    I don’t see much difference in what Blago did than a senator or congressperson selling their vote to wall street, insurance companies, pharma companies, defense contractors, etc. in return for campaign contributions. Corruption is corruption. This is how our government works, sadly we’re stuck with it.

  9. fitley says:

    Anybody who has lived in Chicago for a decade or so has seen this story played out over and over again. Loudmouth politician proclaims innocence over and over and over again. Mocks the prosecution, yaps on and on and on. Case goes to court and guess what? Loudmouth A-hole crooked politician goes down for the count. BIG TIME. Illinois prisons are full of these A-holes. We have 30 years worth of them cooling their heels. Have a nice trip Blago I won’t be seeing you in the fall… A-hole.

  10. Sara says:

    I tend to think Blago got prosecuted for the wrong thing…

    He would have been pretty high on my list to send to the Hague, and the Material Support of Genocide trials there. Back before NATO bombed the Serb gun positions around Sarajevo during the Bosnian War, before the Dayton Conference, there was no more loud mouth apologist for Milosevic’s efforts to do ethnic cleansing than Blagojevich, and it was quite clear he was collecting Milosevic’s money to be the public voice for that bloody cause, running Milosevic money through single issue lobby/PR operations in DC, with much of the money ending up in his campaign fund for Governor of Illinois. He repeated his act during the Kosovo crisis. I can’t fathom why this was not brought up when he first ran for Governor — certainly the people of Illinois can find a Democrat who is not associated with Milosevic the Butcher of Bosnia.

    • DWBartoo says:

      This truth must not be allowed to be hidden away.

      For our trajectory is, now, ever downward …

      And a few at least, must understand why.

      Sara, my deepest appreciation, for your insight and courage.

      The burden of such knowing is matched by the strength of your integrity, humanity, and vast understanding.

      Thank you.


  11. miketherevelator says:

    As a Chicago area resident I would just like to weigh in by saying this has been about the most inept prosecution I’ve ever seen. First almost 2 years ago Fitzgerald arrested him (rather than indict him) and at the subsequent press conference made mention of a one man crime spree nevr before seen in the state that had Lincoln rolling in his grave, that he attempted to sell the Senate seat — I mean he tried and convicted the man in the space of one hour and the lapdog Chicago media has run that theme since and bovine Illinois residents likewise. Blago is no role model and I wouldn’t vote for him for city dog catcher, but he deserves the rule of the law. And what Fitz brought to prosecute him with was junk. It would be junk in Vermont, here in Chicago it was embarassing. The defense didn’t offer anything because the prosecution didn’ prove anything. Fitzgerald also got outfoxed by the defense by keeping some of his best witnesses back to use against the anticipated defense. When Adam decided not to present a defense, about 15 witnesses ended up not even entering the court room. The man is a jerk and a loud mouth and he loves to say fuck and blows his top every ten seconds, but still before you send the guy to prison you have to prove he did what you said he did. And they didn’t. Plus the judge was so biased it was like Blago’s team was fighting 2 prosecutions, luckily one of them was inept. Illinois being Illinois and with the feeling running so high against Blago I wouldn’t rule out a guilty verdict, but if I were on the jury, he’d walk. The fact they couldn’t agree before the weekend and are going to have to come back on Monday shows they aren’t close to a unanimous decision — whether it’s close to acquital or guilty, who knows? But I think a lot of people were expecting they’d be back Wednesday with a guilty. I like his brother’s chances better than his, but in all honesty all Fitz proved is the guy is a blowhard. He never showed that he received a dime and it’s a bad sign when the prosecution basically says we know we didn’t show he did anything, and we know we didn’t show that he said anything but you have to concentrate on what was unsaid. Blago knew how to ask for a bribe without coming out and saying so. BLAGO was tactful? Yeah, the jury is going to buy that one in a minute.
    Anyway, I’ve been verbally attacked for this opinion for a week or two so I figured what’s one more place. Even if he goes to the Home for Retired Illinois Guv’s aka the Federal Pen, Fitz better be brushing up that resume.

    • hcgorman says:

      Another Chicagoan here….and Mike wrapped this up nicely…It was really quite funny when the defense rested because the prosecution cut its case by four weeks a few days earlier and decided to save some of what might have been the most damaging witnesses for rebuttal…according to press accounts when Blago’s lawyers announced they were resting the faces of the US attorneys went quite ashen…
      I agree he is a jerk but so far that is not illegal and I haven’t seen any evidence presented of a real crime.
      stay tuned….

    • Mary says:

      & 28

      EPU’d but I’ll tack this on anyway.

      I wondered what people who have been following think – the bits and pieces I’ve seen kind of align with what you two have said. Lots of “what a jerk” moments, but not oodles of “and here’s what he did” or even “here’s what he he had a firm plan to do” After the pretty shocking arrest and presser, it didn’t seem like there was there, there – not to take someone’s freedom away vs. calling them an assinine jerk.

      They conducted surveillance on a hell of a lot of people uninvolved with any crime (cameras and bugs for his campagin office) – a lot of Democratic campaign workers – to make this case. And it really looks from just the bits and pieces that I’ve followed that they are really relying mostly on the mindset they created by the presser to get their conviction now. A popularity contest between the Prosecutor and the Prosecuted, more so than a case.

      @24 – thanks for that Sara. I didn’t know that part of his history. Not what he’s on trial for, but well worth knowing about him.

  12. Leen says:

    Would really like to witness that same type of scrutiny applied to Blago applied to all of the people whose job it is to do the people’s work