Blagojevich blames 'insecurities,' apologizes again

June 2, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Blagojevich, 54, faces 20 charges in this second trial, including attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit bribery. He denies any wrongdoing.

His fifth day of testimony has focused on the most explosive charges: allegations that he tried to sell or trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama in 2008 to the highest bidder.

One of the contenders for the position was Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Blagojevich said. He said, "The Lisa Madigan mega deal for the people" was always first.

Other candidates included Congressman Jesse Jackson Junior, who lobbied for the position, and Valerie Jarrett, who was Obama's top pick. Throughout the trial, secretly recorded FBI tapes from wiretaps were played in which Blagojevich puts down Congressman Jackson and the Madigan family.

"I'd like to add them to the list of the Russians and the Macedonians and apologize to them."

Blagojevich also considered appointing himself to the position, according to a November 14, 2008, phone call recorded by the FBI. In that conversation he also talked about going to Afghanistan to track down Osama Bin Laden.

Blagojevich blames "insecurities" for recorded words

Also in court Thursday, defense attorney Aaron Goldstein asked Blagojevich about allegations that the former governor wanted a top job or cabinet position from the Obama administration for appointing Jarrett. In a conversation recorded by the FBI, Blagojevich and top aides are heard discussing the possibility of an appointment to the Health and Human Services. Goldstein asked why Blagojevich kept bringing it up when HHS was not a possibility. Blagojevich said it came down to his own insecurities.

"I was embarrassed by the flat out dismissal ... and you sure look bad in front of your staff if you give up that quickly," Blagojevich said. "His (Obama's) star was rising and mine was waning."

On another tape, Blagojevich is heard talking to Doug Scofield about the possibility of appointing Jarrett.

BLAGOJEVICH: On Jarrett and then, ah, Wyma got Harris and predictably, you know, Rahm wanted to pass along a message that the president-elect would be grateful, would like Valerie Jarrett and he would quote/unquote be grateful and appreciative.

SCOFIELD Okay. Well, that's nice. (chuckles)

BLAGOJEVICH Yeah.

SCOFIELD Yeah.

(PAUSE)

SCOFIELD I, you know, look, the president can be helpful. He should be grateful and appreciative and helpful.

BLAGOJEVICH That's right.

SCOFIELD You know. It's...

BLAGOJEVICH How 'bout a 501(c)(4) so I can advocate children's health care. Can't they get like Warren Buffet and some of those guys to put like 10, 12, 15 million dollars in that? Like right away.

SCOFIELD Well, they probably could.

(PAUSE)

BLAGOJEVICH Then I can, I could advocate children's health care. Use that thing as a, you know as an advocacy tool and, ah,...

(PAUSE)

BLAGOJEVICH How do you make a deal like that? I mean it's gotta be legal obviously, but... But it's very common place is it not? Doin' things like this?

SCOFIELD Ah, I mean that kind of 501(c),(c)(4) is not unusual.

...

BLAGOJEVICH: If I get nothing back from Obama then, um, I'm going in another direction, you know what I'm sayin'.

SCOFIELD: I think you should leverage it for whatever's most helpful to you.

BLAGOJEVICH You agree with that don't you?

SCOFIELD I do.

When asked about that conversation, Blagojevich said "I understood him to be saying, we're all of your friends... want you to leverage this for whatever is good for you."

Doug Scofield testified on May 10.

Blagojevich's defense lawyers said they expect to finish Thursday, at which point prosecutors would begin the cross-examination.

On Wednesday, Blagojevich spoke about a secretly recorded conversation in which he called the U.S. Senate seat "f---ing golden." Stumbling over his answer, Blagojevich said what he meant was getting to appoint a senator was a "unique opportunity."

He also apologized to jurors and said "I'm stupid here... I'm just being stupid here," about the tape.

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