Blagojevich: Play the whole truth, play all the tapes

February 10, 2010 4:22:45 PM PST
Former governor Rod Blagojevich, who was re-indicted on corruption charges Wednesday morning, said he wants all the tapes related to his case to be played in court.Blagojevich entered a plea to the new indictment. Prosecutors filed the new indictment to avoid possible delays in the case.

Blagojevich's attorneys filed a motion to allow them to play most of the FBI tapes of his telephone conversations at his trial.

Before his arrest, the government spent a month and a half secretly tape recording Blagojevich phone conversations. There are so many hours of tape that by rough estimate it'd take three weeks of non-stop listening to hear them all.

Clearly in that mountain of tape are conversations that have no real bearing on the criminal charges. Only pieces will be played at trial. But the ex-governor, sounding like the captain of his legal team, said Wednesday every "second" of those tapes should be played in public.

Since there's a new, revised indictment, there must be a new arraignment for the ex-governor. There are plenty of cameras to record his arrival at the Dirksen Federal building.

At one point, he gave a hug to a lady in the lobby before being urged by court security officers to keep moving.

"What is your plea?" he is asked by Judge James Zagel. "Innocent to each and every charge," Blagojevich responded.

Then minutes later, marching directly to the cameras, Blagojevich declared, "I am laying down the gauntlet, challenging the government to play every second, every minute and every hour of its secret Blago tape recordings.

"I challenge the government. If you're on the side of truth and justice as you say you are, and if this was a crime spree like you claim it was, then don't hide behind technicalities, play all the tapes. Play all the tapes," said Blagojevich. .

The defense says there are some 500 hours of taped phone conversations, and although Blagojevich says he wants all of them played, his lawyers acknowledge that some of it just won't be relevant. .

"We're not going to say that we need to hear a conversation he had with somebody about the Atlanta Hawks. We're talking about any tape that has to do with this trial," said Sam Adam, Blagojevich attorney.

As in any case, the prosecution and defense will scrap over what evidence each believes is relevant and the what the jury ought to hear. But there is a strategy behind "play all the tapes."

"The strategy may be that the more hours that are aired, the jury will look at the snippets played by the prosecutors and downplay those," said Harold Krent, dean, Kent College of Law.

"When I take the stand and I testify and swear on the Holy Bible to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, I expect and the people of Illinois expect and deserve that the government will do the same," said Blagojevich.

Blagojevich made his statement and then left. His trial is scheduled to start in early June, and Judge Zagel said Wednesday, based on his reading of the language in the new indictment, it's unlikely he'll change the trial date.