Blagojevich steps down from stand after 7 days

June 7, 2011 3:20:06 PM PDT
After 7 days on the stand, former governor Rod Blagojevich finished testifying Tuesday in his own defense at his second corruption trial.

Jurors could begin deliberations by the end of the week.

Blagojevich, 54, is accused of trying to sell or trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate for his own personal gain, among other things. He denies any wrongdoing.

His testimony spanned seven days. He was questioned by his own defense attorneys for five days and then cross-examined by the prosecution. On Tuesday, his defense re-directed Blagojevich for just a few hours. Prosecutors did not re-cross.

As he left the stand Tuesday, Blagojevich tried to shake hands with prosecutor Reid Schar, who ignored the approach. Rod made a face and Judge James Zagel told jurors that lawyers are instructed not to have any contact with the defendant.

The defense is expected to call two more witnesses. Prosecution will then have a chance at rebuttal.

Closing arguments could happen as early as Wednesday afternoon or first thing Thursday, which means the case could go to the jury by Thursday afternoon. Jurors have agreed to come in on Friday.

Ex-gov. Blagojevich less chatty

Blagojevich has been longwinded with his answers since he first took the stand. However, on Tuesday, Blagojevich seemed to be following requests from the judge, prosecutors, and sometimes even his own defense to answer questions with a simple "yes" or "no" where appropriate.

Congressman Jesse Jackson Junior was one of the people considered for the appointment. On Tuesday, prosecutor Reid Schar asked Blagojevich if he knew it was illegal for emissaries of Jackson to offer $1.5 million in campaign contributions for appointing Jackson to the seat.

"They were offering me campaign funds for the Senate seat. My brother rejected it three times," Blagojevich said. "I viewed it as illegal."

Blagojevich also considered appointing himself, Valerie Jarrett or Lisa Madigan to the U.S. Senate. Since his testimony began, Blagojevich has said Madigan was his top choice. However, the prosecution alleges she was a "stalking horse."

"All of us were stalking horses... it's a big horserace," Blagojevich said.

Schar also asked Blagojevich about allegations he asked a road executive for campaign cash at the same time a billion-dollar highway program was being announced. Schar walked Blagojevich through the testimony involving Gerald Krozel, who said earlier that he felt pressured by the former governor. In his testimony for the prosecution, Krozel said Blagojevich made it clear the larger program was contingent on the donation.

"You did want Mr. Krozel to help you raise campaign funds?" Schar asked.

"Yes, I did," Blagojevich saidd.

"That was money for your campaign fund, Friends of Blagojevich?"

"Yes, yes," Blagojevich said.

Prosecutors are methodically going through Blagojevich's testimony, trying to discredit the former governor's denials that he did anything wrong.


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