Illinois Senate Hears Blagojevich Tapes FBI recordings of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich were played Tuesday at his impeachment trial before the state Senate. The tapes are part of a corruption investigation that led to Blagojevich's arrest in December.
NPR logo

Illinois Senate Hears Blagojevich Tapes

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/99914839/99919365" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Illinois Senate Hears Blagojevich Tapes

Illinois Senate Hears Blagojevich Tapes

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/99914839/99919365" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel. It's day two in the impeachment trial of Rod Blagojevich in the Illinois Senate. Senators heard from the Democratic governor himself. He's still not there in person. He's been pleading his case in national media interviews. But the governor's voice is being played from audio tapes recorded by the FBI as part of its corruption probe. NPR's David Schaper is at the state Capitol in Springfield.

DAVID SCHAPER: 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, and then asking Cain to verify that they are true and accurate. He recited many of Blagojevich's infamous quotes related to his efforts to allegedly try to cash in on the Senate seat vacated by President Obama.

Mr. DAVID ELLIS (Prosecutor): Later, Rod Blagojevich stated that the Senate seat, quote, "is a f-ing valuable thing, you don't just give it away for nothing," close quote. Agent Cain, was that paragraph true and accurate to the best of your knowledge and belief at the time you executed this affidavit?

Agent DANIEL CAIN (FBI): Yes, it was.

SCHAPER: Prosecutor Ellis also went over charges outlined in the criminal complaint that alleged Blagojevich solicited hefty campaign contributions for his official acts, such as signing legislation. He then 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 he would sign a bill benefiting the horse racing industry. On this tape, Blagojevich is talking with his brother, Rob, who chairs the governor's campaign fund and had talked with the lobbyist about when the governor could expect that campaign contribution.

(Soundbite of wiretap recording)

Mr. ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH: He's going to give you - no, he didn't get it, but he's, you know, I'm good for it. I've got to just decide what accounts to get it out of. And Ron is going to talk to you about some sensitivities, legislatively, tonight when he sees you, with regard to timing of all of this.

Governor ROB BLAGOJEVICH (Democrat, Illinois): What, before the end of the year, though, right?

Mr. BLAGOJEVICH: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

SCHAPER: Later in that phone call, Blagojevich appears agitated that it is taking so long to get the contribution.

(Soundbite of wiretap recording)

Governor BLAGOJEVICH: It's so - but it's clearly before the end of the year, right?

Mr. BLAGOJEVICH: Yeah.

SCHAPER: 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 January 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 asking whether he should talk with the horse racing lobbyist.

(Soundbite of wiretap recording)

Governor BLAGOJEVICH: You want me to call him directly, I will - whatever is the best thing (unintelligible).

Mr. BLAGOJEVICH: I think it's better if you do it.

Governor BLAGOJEVICH: OK.

Mr. BLAGOJEVICH: It's better if you do it just from a pressure point of view.

Governor BLAGOJEVICH: Yeah, good. I'll call him and say, yeah, well - and we want to do an event downstate. So, we want to do it and we hope to do this, so we can get together and start picking some dates to do a bill signing, right?

SCHAPER: After the last tape, Prosecutor Ellis 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 Governor Blagojevich. There was no cross-examination of the witness because Blagojevich and his attorneys continue to boycott this impeachment trial. As he pleads his case in the national media, Blagojevich maintains he has done nothing wrong and that excerpts of a few conversations don't tell the whole story. David Schaper, NPR News, in Springfield, Illinois.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.