Illinois Senate Hears Blagojevich Tapes

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Illinois state senators heard from Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich himself during the second day of his impeachment trial. But the governor wasn't there in person.

While Blagojevich continued to plead his case in national media interviews, his voice could be heard in the state Senate's proceedings, thanks to audiotapes secretly recorded by the FBI as part of its corruption investigation.

FBI Agent Testifies

Special prosecutor David Ellis called to the witness stand FBI agent Daniel Cain, who oversaw the wiretapping of the governor.

Ellis read from the 76-page criminal complaint against Blagojevich, quoting from conversations the governor allegedly had with aides and associates. He then asked Cain to verify that they were true and accurate.

He recited many of Blagojevich's infamous quotes related to the governor's efforts to allegedly try to cash in on the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.

"Later, Rod Blagojevich stated that the Senate seat 'is a effing valuable thing; you don't just give it away for nothing,' " Ellis said. "Agent Cain, was that paragraph true and accurate ... at the time you executed this affidavit?"

"Yes," Cain said. "It was."

Pay-To-Play Allegations

Ellis also reviewed charges outlined in the criminal complaint that allege Blagojevich solicited hefty campaign contributions for his official acts, such as signing legislation.

The prosecutor played audio recorded from FBI wiretaps — excerpts of conversations in which prosecutors say Blagojevich is trying to extract a big campaign contribution from a lobbyist for the horse racing industry before the governor would sign a bill benefiting the industry.

On the tape, Blagojevich can be heard talking with his brother, Rob, who chairs the governor's campaign fund. In the phone call, Blagojevich appears agitated that it is taking so long to get the contribution.

Federal prosecutors and the Illinois House in its impeachment charges allege Blagojevich was in a rush to collect as much campaign cash as he could before Jan. 1, when a new law took effect, drastically restricting campaign contributions.

In a later conversation with a lobbyist acting as an intermediary, and still no contribution in hand, Blagojevich is heard asking whether he should talk with the horse racing lobbyist.

Blagojevich On Media Blitz

After the last tape, Ellis, the prosecutor, wrapped up his questioning of FBI agent Cain by asking him again to verify that what is heard on the tapes is accurate and that the voice is that of Blagojevich.

There was no cross-examination of the witness, because Blagojevich and his attorneys continue to boycott his impeachment trial. As he pleads his case in the national media, Blagojevich maintains that he has done nothing wrong and that excerpts of a few conversations don't tell the whole story.



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