Heated Testimony In Trial Of Ex-Gov. Blagojevich
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Rod Blagojevich may not testify in his political corruption trial after all. For 19 months the former Democratic Illinois governor has proclaimed his innocence to anyone listening and vowed he would testify in his own defense.
But after the trial wrapped up today in federal court in Chicago, one of his attorneys said he doesn't think he should.
Blagojevich's brother, Robert, did testify, as NPR's David Schaper reports.
DAVID SCHAPER: The prosecution's cross-examination of Robert Blagojevich was blistering, with the ex-governor's brother repeatedly denying he took part in any alleged scheme to auction off the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama to the highest bidder.
Robert took over his brother's fundraising operation in 2008, just months before the governor was arrested, and Robert, too, was charged in the scandal. Robert testified he had no prior political fundraising experience, but that he saw this as an opportunity to reconnect with his brother after the two had drifted apart.
And Robert testified he never offered or promised any government action in exchange for campaign contributions. He said he first considered one businessman's offer to raise $6 million for Blagojevich if he'd appoint Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. to the Senate as a joke. But prosecutors pressed him hard on secretly recorded conversations in which his brother wanted him to send a message to the businessman that Jackson was suddenly in serious contention for the seat after the offer.
Robert acknowledged it amounted to a $6 million bribe, but he tersely insisted the governor never told him one thing was the condition of the other. And when pressed again by prosecutors, Robert Blagojevich insisted, quote, "I was not going to cross any line in regards to the Senate seat. I don't know how much clear I can make it."
With the heated cross-examination of Robert Blagojevich now finished, the former governor was expected to take the stand himself. But defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. says he's reconsidering that strategy.
Mr. SAM ADAM Jr. (Rod Blagojevich's Defense Attorney): He's certainly not shy and he could certainly tell the jury what was in his mind. Now, there's other considerations here. Do we give credence to the government's case? The government hasn't proven anything. And by getting up there, even answering questions on it, gives them some credence to what they have put on so far.
SCHAPER: Blagojevich's attorneys say they will discuss their options tonight and announce their decision tomorrow in court.
David Schaper, NPR News, Chicago.
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