The second federal corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod
Blagojevich will likely turn on whether the jury thinks recorded
statements are ramblings or evidence of an illegal scheme.
Was Rod Blagojevich simply wondering out loud or did his scheming
have serious intent?
That is the crux of the arguments that closed his second federal
trial Thursday, a do-over following the first that ended in a
deadlocked jury on all but one count. Mr. Blagojevich, the former
Illinois governor, was convicted last summer on one count of 24
against him that accounted for what prosecutors described as a pay-
to-play scandal involving President Obama's former US Senate seat.
In this trial, federal prosecutors simplified their case against
the former governor in order to help the jury see that talking about
wrongdoing was still a crime, even though money never exchanged
hands and political favors never saw the light of day
In her closing argument, federal prosecutor Carrie Hamilton
repeatedly referenced an analogy of a police officer seeking bribes
from a motorist but receiving none, making the point that bribery
still took place. Throughout the trial, Ms. Hamilton and her team
sought to portray Blagojevich as a greedy public official who had
contempt for his office and the public it served and who, if he
weren't so bumbling, would have earned the riches he sought.
At the end of her arguments Thursday, Hamilton played a wiretap
recording that featured Blagojevich calling Mr. Obama an epithet and
asking his aides, in response to learning he would not benefit from
appointing the seat to an Obama friend, "I just gotta suck it up for
two years and do nothing?"
"That is in [Blagojevich's] mind ... you want something from me
for nothing?" Hamilton said.
For the impeached governor's defense team, the closing argument
riffed on a familiar demand: Show me the money.
"Nothing, nothing, nothing" is what defense attorney Aaron
Goldstein said Blagojevich received as a result of his alleged
"Rod didn't get a dime. I told you [that] you would hear the
sound and the fury. In the end you would get nothing," Mr. Goldstein
said. "The man didn't intend to do anything [the prosecution is]
saying. And this is what this case is about."
One accusation the retrial repeatedly stressed involved Chicago
Mayor Rahm Emanuel who, as a US congressman representing Chicago's
Northwest Side, was allegedly pressured to host a Hollywood
fundraiser for Blagojevich in exchange for a state grant he sought
for a school in his district. …