Defense rests in Blagojevich trial

June 8, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Prosecutors have begun their rebuttal by calling Richard Olsen, the president of a construction company. They are asking Olsen about a September 24, 2008 meeting he had with Blagojevich in which Olsen said they talked about two tollway projects-- a $1.8 billion project and a larger one planned for 2009. Blagojevich had testified that he and Olsen did not talk about the second project because Blagojevich did not support it.

Olsen said during the meeting at My Way restaurant, Blagojevich called himself the "best damn governor in the U.S."

Closing arguments could come as soon as Wednesday afternoon. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton will give closing arguments for the government. She said it could take as many as four hours.

After the defense has had its turn and the government has its chance at a rebuttal, the jury would get the case. They have agreed to come to court on Friday.

Lipinski denies asking Jackson for campaign contribution

Former congressman Bill Lipinski said he never asked Jesse Jackson Jr. to give $25,000 to Rod Blagojevich's campaign.

Lipinski was called by the defense Wednesday in the former governor's corruption trial. Blagojevich, 54, is accused of trying to sell or trade a U.S. Senate seat appointment for personal gain- a top job or campaign contribution. He denies any wrongdoing.

Lipinski's testimony directly contradicts that of Jackson, who testified earlier in the trial that Lipinski approached him about making a $25,000 campaign contribution in 2002, when Blagojevich was first running for governor. Jackson said he thought passing on that donation cost his wife, Sandi Jackson, a state job.

During the cross-examination by prosecutors, Lipinski said he doesn't remember everyone he approached to support Blagojevich in 2002.

Lipinski is one of three witnesses the Blagojevich defense had left to call. The others are Sameer Talcherkar, who worked on obtaining funding for Chicago Academy school grant, and FBI agent John Rouske. Blagojevich testified in his own defense for seven days, finishing on Tuesday.

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