Emanuel testifies in Blagojevich trial

May 25, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Emanuel followed Congressman Jesse Jackson Junior. Neither Emanuel nor Jackson is accused of any wrongdoing.

Emanuel, who was President Barack Obama's White House chief of staff is expected to discuss his 2008 correspondence with Blagojevich advisors about possible Senate appointments to the seat left open by Obama.

Blagojevich is accused of trying to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama for his own personal gain.

Congressman Jackson was considered one of the possible appointees for the seat. He is expected to talk about allegations that Blagojevich considered a campaign cash offer in exchange for appointing Jackson to the seat.

During testimony Wednesday, Jackson said he believes his wife, Sandy, did not get a state job, in part, because he did not make a $25,000 donation as requested by then governor Rod Blagojevich. Jackson was the first witness called by Blagojevich's defense team Wednesday morning. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is also expected to testify.

"I talked to scores of people about the United States senate seat," Congressman Jackson said Wednesday. When asked if Blagojevich's aides asked him for campaign cash in exchange for the appointment by defense attorney Aaron Goldstein, Jackson said, "No, sir, I did not."

Jackson met with Blagojevich on December 8, 2008. Jackson said he prepared a notebook for Blagojevich about why he would be a good appointment to the U.S. Senate seat. When asked if fundraising came up during that meeting, Jackson said "no."

During the cross-examination by prosecutor Chris Niewoehner, Jackson said he and Blagojevich were "not on speaking terms." But later, Jackson passed along a resume for his wife, Sandy, to a Blagojevich aide. Sandy was considered for to be director of the Illinois Lottery, a position she was interested in but did not get.

When Jackson and Blagojevich saw each other at a luncheon, Jackson said, "There was a chill in the air.

"The governor came up to me and said, 'I'm sorry the thing with Sandy didn't work out," Jackson said. He said Blagojevich then snapped his fingers like Elvis Presley and said, "'You should have given me that $25,000.'"

Jackson told Niewoehner he understood that not making the donation was "a factor" in Sandy not getting the job.

Before jurors arrived Wednesday, the attorneys met with Judge James Zagel to discuss what testimony is allowed in court. Judge James Zagel said Wednesday that if defense attorneys are going to ask Emanuel vague questions "it creates a problem."

"We don't understand what the purpose is of these witnesses," said Reid Schar, prosecutor.

"The purpose of these witnesses is to prove Governor Blagojevich didn't commit any crimes," said Sheldon Sorosky, defense attorney.

The defense has still not said if Blagojevich will testify in his own defense. The former governor faces 20 counts. He denies any wrongdoing.

Defense attorneys also asked Judge Zagel to acquit the former Illinois governor. The motion said tape recorded conversations used in the government's case, which were presented in three weeks of testimony, "amount to nothing more than hot air."

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