Jurors hear 'f---ing golden' tape in Blagojevich trial
May 10, 2011 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Jurors in the second corruption trial of Rod Blagojevich heard a secretly-recorded FBI tape in which the former governor calls a U.S. Senate seat he's accused of trying to sell or trade, ''f---ing golden.''
Blagojevich, 54, is accused of trying to sell or trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama for campaign cash or personal gain. Blagojevich maintains he did nothing wrong.
In a conversation between Blagojevich and Doug Scofield, a former advisor, on November 5, 2008, the day after then Senator-Obama was elected president, the former governor says, "I mean I got this thing and it is f---ing golden. And, I'm just not giving it up for f---ing nothing. I'm not gonna do it. I can always use it and parachute me in there."
Prosecutors played the tape while Scofield was on the stand Tuesday morning. They left out the portion in which Blagojevich calls then president-elect a "f---ing demigod" and laments his own political future, wondering aloud if he's a failure.
The tapes played for the jury Tuesday while Scofield was testifying show a governor irritated that he will only get thanks and appreciation from the president-elect if he names Obama's top pick, Valerie Jarrett, to the Senate. Six days after the election, one of Blagojevich's political consultants suggests it would be wise to name Jarrett and not stick his finger in the eye of the president-elect. Blagojevich is not happy with that advice.
"So then they all leave town and I'm left with gridlock, a f---ing pissed off speaker, potential impeachment and a f---ing president who's all take and no give, . . . " Blagojevich said. "Okay, so, um, alright, so the question is, there's nothing we can get for Valerie Jarrett? I just gotta suck it up and be, and just give this guy his senator, or, or fall back is as another African-American. That's what your recommendation would be, huh, Doug?"
"Yeah," replies political consultant Doug Sosnik.
In those taped conversations, Blagojevich floats many names and ideas about. The defense has tried to paint the picture that with Blagojevich it's all just talk and advisors like Scofield never told the governor he was out of bounds and encouraged him to "leverage" a deal, a word Scofield used.
Scofield said he'd like to explain that, but could not speak with the trial ongoing.
"There is never been anything involving this situation with the governor that I wouldn't be eager to talk about and readily done so and happy to do so, but there is a legal proceeding that I want to be respectful of," Scofield said after court.
Defense attorney Aaron Goldstein cross-examined Scofield Tuesday. Prosecutors objected several times to his way of questioning.
"There is a way to make your point, but not in this manner," Judge James Zagel said. Zagel reprimanded Goldstein several times Monday during the cross-examination of other witnesses for the prosecution.
Witnesses testify on Blagojevich ethics, finances
Next on the stand: David Keahl, executive at the Inspector General's Office. Keahl spoke about Blagojevich's ethics training, which took place from 2004 to 2008. He read from the list of guidelines outlined in the ethics manual and also from the introduction, Page 10: Remember, just because something has been done in the past doesn't mean that it's okay. In fact, the law has recently changed in response to government scandals. These rules-- not past habits-- should be your guide.
The most explosive conversation heard Tuesday is one in which Blagojevich curses the president-elect, says he's stuck in a dead-end job and can't afford to send his daughter to college.
Blagojevich: So here, here's the immediate challenge. How do we take some of the financial pressure off of our family here? Okay? And then I have a personal issue which is, I feel like I'm f---ing my children. That's what I feel like. The whole world's passing me by, I'm stuck in this f---ing gridlock for two more f---ing years, okay, and nasty f---ing s----y f--ing press and everything, you know, and every a--hole out there. We know few friends. Trying to do the right thing, you know getting my a-- kicked to try to get stuff done, finding ways around them, creating more issues as opposed to just sitting back and then I'm gonna have to look the other way on a tax increase now in the mean,...
Patti Blagojevich: In the meantime Amy is ...
Blagojevich: ...are you kidding me? Eight f---ing wasted years and Amy what?
Patti Blagojevich: Amy is going to college in six years.
Blagojevich: Amy is going to college in six years and we can't afford it. I can't afford college for my daughter.
Shari Schindler was called to testify next about the Blagojevich's finances. During the presentation, the government took out bangles and beads and gave jurors a handout of charts indicating the Blagojevich had spent more money than they were bringing in for years, including $400,000 on clothing between January 2002 and December 2008.
Prosecution changing up trial presentation
Prosecutors did not play the tapes in the same order or play as much of the tapes as they did last year during Blagojevich's first corruption trial.
When ABC7 asked another key witness, union leader Tom Balanoff about Tuesday's court proceedings, his entourage gave reporters the hand, gesturing for them to leave him alone. Balanoff gave most of his testimony Monday, but was briefly cross-examined by defense on Tuesday. He testified about the same allegations that Blagojevich wanted to sell or trade the Senate seat.
Last year, Blagojevich was found guilty on one of 24 charges in the first corruption trial. The jury was hung on the others.
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