Blagojevich retrial goes to the jury

June 9, 2011 9:06:44 PM PDT
Closing arguments wrapped up Thursday in the retrial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. The judge sent the case to the jury late in the afternoon.

As closing arguments ended, Patti Blagojevich cried a bit and her husband's eyes welled up with tears as well. Both the prosecution and defense were passionate and powerful.

How do you determine what's in Rod Blagojevich's mind? There is a simple phrase, his attorney said, "Actions speak louder than words," and throughout this case his actions are nothing. There was a lot of talk, because Rod loves to talk, a lot of ideas -- good, bad and ugly -- but never any intent to do wrong.

Blagojevich's attorney Aaron Goldstein -- at a higher decibel level to the jury -- said, "He didn't get a dime, a nickel, a penny, a campaign contribution. He got nothing."

Goldstein spent a good portion of his closing argument trying to discredit the testimony of key government witnesses for their plea and immunity agreements. They had to testify, Goldstein said, Rod didn't have to, but he did. "That's a walk that took courage. And he told you the truth."

Goldstein challenged the government's case, saying to the jury, "They think you're a rubber stamp ... Don't be fooled by simple analogies...If it's confusing, you have reasonable doubt."

But prosecutors, who had the last word, say Blagojevich knew precisely what he was doing. He may not have gotten what he wanted, but not for lack of trying, and the try -- the ask -- is the crime.

The prosecution played one brief tape of Blagojevich from November 10, 2008, when it had become clear that a Senate selection would return the governor only appreciation:

"I mean you guys are telling me I just gotta suck it up for two years and do nothing. Give this (expletive) his senator ... For nothing? (Expletive) him."

After playing that brief tape, the assistant U.S. attorney handling the case, Reid Schar, turned to the jury and said, "This is his response to the president-elect of the United States, 'You want something for me from nothing?' "

The prosecution and defense agree on one thing. Both urged the jury to listen to all the tapes in chronological order.

The jury was sent home just before 6 p.m. Thursday. They will return Friday to get written instructions. Then they will go about picking a foreperson and beginning deliberations.

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