Blago and wife 'eager' to testify in trial

July 21, 2010 8:31:05 AM PDT
Rod Blagojevich told a radio audience Wednesday that he and his wife, Patti, will take the stand in his corruption trial, which begins Thursday.

The former governor will be in the court room when jury selection begins Thursday.

On Wednesday, there were reports that the White House confirms that Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett have received subpoenas to testify for the defense.

As his trial is about to start, Rod Blagojevich's Sunday afternoon radio show is going into hiatus, but the ex-governor called WLS-AM Wednesday morning to say once again that he is the victim of super sensational lies told by sinister prosecutors.

Blagojevich reaffirmed that when the time comes, he will take the stand in his own defense, and then he said that his wife Patti will testify, too.

"Both of us are eager to get up there and tell the truth and testify," said Blagojevich.

Patti Blagojevich does not face any criminal charges, but in seven pages of a government proffer, prosecutors say thousands of dollars in real estate commissions were steered to the ex-governor's wife, even though she did little or no work for them.

"If she takes the stand, she is fair game, she is fair game not only to whether she took commissions in real estate for doing nothing from Rezko but she's also fair game on any conversation that took place in her presence," said Prof. Leonard Cavise, DePaul College of Law.

Shelly Sorosky, one of Blagojevich's attorneys, says, "if the governor said Patti's going to testify, he said it. I recognize decisions are sometimes made at game time. I don't disapprove of it."

But the governor himself taking the stand is not without considerable risk because it opens him up to cross examination.

"I never could understand these politicians who said they never did anything wrong and then when they're given the chance to say they didn't do anything wrong, where it matters in court, they don't do it. So, yes, I'm gonna do it and Patti's gonna do it. We have the truth on our side," said Blagojevich.

Even the most veteran defensive attornies caution that testimony from a criminal defendant can be a big gamble.

"He'll probably think that's his strong suit to get on the stand, and bring his political game and talk to the jury like he did when he was running for governor, and that that will get him off the hook, and that's very dangerous," said Beth Foley, trial consultant.

"It's so risky a proposition that nine times out of ten, defendants do like George Ryan and do not take the stand," said Patrick Collins, former assistant U.S attorney.

If Mrs. Blagojevich does in fact intend to testify, that may raise questions as to whether she'll be able to stay in the courtroom when other witnesses testify - particularly those involved in aspects of the case that could involve Mrs Blagojevich.

Jury selection starts Thursday. The Blagojevichs are expected to be in court.

Blago trial to start; radio show on hold

As a judge denied a last-minute delay request in former governor Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial, WLS Radio put his talk show on hiatus.

In a motion filed Tuesday, Blagojevich's lawyers asked for the delay, saying they haven't had time to prepare.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel, who had already turned down earlier motions to delay the trial, denied the last-minute delay request Wednesday. He met briefly with lawyers and told them to be ready to pick a jury Thursday.

Potential jurors are already in the courthouse filling out questionnaires.

The federal judge presiding over the case will not allow the jurors names to be announced until the end of the trial. Five news organizations had asked Judge James Zagel to drop his plan to empanel an anonymous jury.

Blagojevich has pleaded not guilty to charges that he schemed to make a profit from filling the U.S. Senate seat President Barack Obama gave up.

Wednesday morning on the "Don Wade and Roma Show" on WLS Radio, Blagojevich said he and his wife, Patti, will both testify at the trial.

"This isn't just about me testifying for me, which is certainly a part of it. But I also feel an obligation to the people, that I have a duty to testify. And I never could understand these politicians who said they never did anything wrong, and when they're given a chance to say they didn't do anything where it matters in court, they don't do it," said Blagojevich.

Blagojevich hosts a Sunday talk show on WLS Radio that has been suspended until his trial ends.

"Out of respect for the legal process, WLS Radio is putting the Rod Blagojevich Show on 'hiatus' effective immediately," said Operations Director Drew Hayes. "After the trial has concluded, we will review the status of the program."

Hayes said Blagojevich will provide weekly and as warranted commentary to Don and Roma's program.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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