Blagojevich defines 'f-ing golden' for jury

May 31, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Blagojevich was referring to a secretly recorded conversation in which he calls the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama "f---ing golden." He is accused of trying to sell or trade that appointment for his own personal gain.

''There was a method to the madness and I believe I was on the right track and then everything changed,'' Blagojevich said Tuesday. Blagojevich, 54, is in his third day of testimony. He faces 20 counts, including allegations of trying to trade a U.S. Senate seat for personal gain and is also accused of pressuring people to make donations to his campaign in exchange for state business.

Blagojevich denies any wrongdoing. His defense so far has been to say that those around him -- former friends, former political allies -- are all lying and that their testimony that he tried to shake down campaign contributors are false.

"In a perfect world I wanted to pick an African-American to fill that Senate seat," Blagojevich told jurors. He also said Congressman Jesse Jackson's supporters were calling his home and advocating for Jackson's appointment to the seat left vacant by U.S. President Barack Obama. Blagojevich said he thought Jackson's supporters weren't appropriate.

"My position was I was not going to appoint him to the U.S. Senate," Blagojevich said of Congressman Jackson. "He wasn't the person I thought he was... there were some qualities in him that I thought weren't so great."

Blagojevich said he wasn't interested in getting campaign contributions from Jackson, who Blagojevich said supports had promised "accelerated fundraising" for the appointment.

Congressman Jackson, who is not accused of any wrongdoing, testified for the prosecution last week. He said neither Blagojevich nor Blagojevich's aides asked him for a campaign contribution for the Senate appointment. However, he did say that he believes his wife, Sandi, was passed up for a job -- in part -- because he did not make a donation to the Blagojevich campaign before the former governor was elected.

Earlier Tuesday, the defense asked Blagojevich about allegations that the former governor held up state business to squeeze campaign contributions from a racetrack owner and road builder. Blagojevich denied he ever shook down the CEO of Children's Memorial Hospital. "That hospital is a personal place for me," said the ex-governor.

On the stand Tuesday, Blagojevich was asked about a December 3, 2008, conversation he had with a top aide and good friend, Lon Monk. Monk, who took the stand for the prosecution on May 17, was questioned about the same conversation, which was recorded by FBI wiretaps.

The defense then played a conversation in which Blagojevich spoke with John Harris, a former aide.

"You had to pick one where I'm swearing, huh? I'm sorry again about that language," Blagojevich said.

Blagojevich apologized -- once again -- for his use of profanity, which has peppered the conversations recorded by the FBI.

His testimony could last several days.

Throughout the testimony Tuesday, Blagojevich often lapsed into political discourse. The prosecution has objected more than 40 times and the judge offered his own brief lecture. Judge Saying he has the same "bad habit, James Zagel said, "I understand you want to provide a lesson in how government works, but just answer the question."

Blagojevich said, "Can I say great minds think alike?"

Judge Zagel responded with raised eyebrows.

Blagojevich answers questions about wife's job

Blagojevich was accompanied by his wife, Patti, into court. On Tuesday, Blagojevich was also asked about trying to secure a job for her and allegations that when the job didn't happen, he sought to punish those firms by withholding state business. Blagojevich said that was completely untrue, and that, in fact, one of the firms later got a big state bond issue. Blagojevich says he simply and innocently wanted to help his wife find a suitable job. He also acknowledged considering Patti for a paid position on the state's pollution control board- even though he thought it improper to have family working in his administration.

Blagojevich said he merely wanted to see what his chief of staff John Harris thought about the idea. "I was just testing my instincts with his to see if they were the same".

However, Harris has already testified that Blagojevich pushed strongly for a job for his wife that she did not have legal qualifications to fill, and had to be told forcefully that it wouldn't work.

Blago defense: Prosecution making faces

During a morning break, Blagojevich's defense accused prosecutors of "making faces" while the former governor testifies in his corruption trial.

Lauren Kaeseberg, a Blagojevich attorney, told Judge James Zagel during the Tuesday morning break that the defense thinks prosecutors are distracting jurors with grimaces and frowns.

Judge Zagel said, "I did not see any of this" but said he will watch prosecutors closely. Zagel the only faces he has seen are coming from the first row behind the defense, which is where Blagojevich's wife, Patti, is sitting.

Prosecutor Reid Schar told Judge Zagel his team would be "more mindful" of their expressions.

Jurors were not in court for that discussion.

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