Blago challenges US attorney

April 20, 2010 (CHICAGO)

During a statement at his lawyer's office, he issued a challenge to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to play all the wiretapped conversations that led to his arrest at his trial.

Last week federal prosecutors released a Santiago proffer, a document with the evidence they plan to present at trial. Blagojevich accused federal prosecutors of "sneaking" into court.

"It's bad enough that they have lied about me, now they're actually trying to keep all the evidence that proves (my innocence) from being heard before a jury," said Blagojevich. He also accused the government of "hitting below the belt" by attacking his wife, Patti, who is accused of paying $38,000 for home repairs after receiving a $40,000 payment for work she didn't do from convicted fundraiser Tony Rezko.

"They are cowards and they are liars," said Blagojevich.

Blagojevich strongly defended Patti, who is mentioned many times in the proffer.

"She works hard in everything she does and does a good job in everything she does," said Blagojevich.

Blagojevich said prosecutors don't want all of the secretly recorded tapes to be played in court because they will prove his innocence and expose the "big lie" Fitzgerald told when he said he had to arrest Blagojevich to stop a crime spree before it happened.

"They know when all those tapes are going to be played, they will show I've done nothing wrong. They will prove my innocence and that Patti did nothing wrong. The second reason they're doing this is a reason they know and we know -- there's a smoking gun on those tapes," said Blagojevich.

It's a point Blagojevich has made before many times. But this time he took aim at Fitzgerald.

"So I'm here today to issue a challenge. If I'm wrong with what I'm saying, I challenge Mr. Fitzgerald, why don't you show up in court tomorrow and explain to everybody, explain to the whole world why you don't want all the tapes that you made played in court. I'll be in court tomorrow. I hope you're man enough to be there tomorrow, too," said Blagojevich.

"Sometimes the best defense is a good offense," said Patrick Collins, former U.S. attorney.

Collins says Blagojevich's statement is consistent with his strategy so far -- go on the offensive and play the victim. But he thinks it could backfire.

"What he said tonight with the name calling and personal invective directed at United States Attorney Fitzgerald, I would be shocked if the judge doesn't have something to say about that in court," said Collins.

Blagojevich is- among other things- accused of trying to sell the Senate seat left vacant by Pres. Barack Obama to the highest bidder. The former governor has denied any wrongdoing and maintains he is innocent on all charges.

The U.S. Attorney's Office had no comment.

Both sides will be in court Wednesday for a status appearance.

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