Blagojevich: Who do you save if they're both drowning?
May 11, 2011 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- In a secretly-recorded conversation, former governor Rod Blagojevich said if he had to choose whom to save from drowning, he'd pick Jesse Jackson Jr. over Lisa Madigan.
Both were discussed as potential appointees to the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama. Blagojevich, 54, is accused of trying to sell the appointment to the highest bidder. He maintains his innocence.
On Wednesday, jurors heard conversations secretly recorded by the FBI between Blagojevich and former deputy governor Bob Greenlee, who was called to testify for the prosecution.
In an October 31, 2008, call, the conversation centers around Jackson.
BLAGOJEVICH: What's goin' on?
GREENLEE: Nothin' much right now. We just got a, a list of, ah, I sent that qualification sheet to Knapp to get us some thinking, talking points, and he came up with different qualifications. Which I'm kind of...
BLAGOJEVICH: I got some lady callin' my house for Jesse Jr. here a little while ago.
GREENLEE: I'm tellin' ya that guy's shameless.
BLAGOJEVICH: Unbelievable isn't it. Then I, we were approached, pay to play. That, you know he'd raise me 500 grand, an emissary came, then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him a senator.
GREENLEE: Uh, uh, uh.
GREENLEE: I'm not, I'm, ah, you know I'm not surprised by him at all.
Prosecutors followed with another FBI tape in which Greenlee and Blagojevich calls Jackson and Madigan "repugnant" choices.
"Two of 'em. Two equally repugnant picks, on a personal level. However, I must say. Having ex-, some experience with both of them, if they were both drowning and I could save one, I really think I'd save Jesse. Just so you, so that means, from a personal standpoint, he's less objectionable to me than she is," Blagojevich said.
In another conversation, Blagojevich warns Greenlee to be careful not to talk too much.
BLAGOJEVICH: Who's this?
BLAGOJEVICH: Okay, now listen, now listen to me. You don't know what's going on here. So you gotta' be careful. Don't be talkin' too much.
GREENLEE: I hear ya'.
BLAGOJEVICH: I mean your contradicting me here, your, you know. Eh, uh, it's a repugnant idea, but I need to leverage that Jesse Jr. with these f---ing national people.
GREENLEE: I see what your play is.
BLAGOJEVICH: To get the deal for Lisa and they gotta f---in'...
BLAGOJEVICH: ....you follow what I'm saying?
GREENLEE: That's your play.
After the tapes were played, Greenlee testified that when Blagojevich spoke about "tangible" support, Greenlee understood it to mean campaign contributions to Blagojevich from Jackson's supporters.
Blagojevich "stalled" by Obama's success
Earlier jurors heard a conversation in which Greenlee and Blagojevich talk about President Barack Obama's success. On November 4, 2008, Blagojevich said, "my upward trajectory is f---ing stalled if not f---ing terminally wounded, you know, by Obama now."
The former governor goes on to talk about how his work is at the expense of his family.
"Yeah. You know...f--- Bill Knapp and f---ing Fred, and all these f---ing consultants who I listened to at the expense of my f---ing family. Okay? And then I, I started venting...you know, part of my vent was, "yeah, and what have I gotten for-? Oh, the people are gonna f---ing be mad and the f---ing newspapers are gonna rip me for this?" Okay? "I f---ing busted my ass and pissed people off and gave your grandmother a free f---ing ride on a bus. Okay? I gave your f---ing baby a chance to have health care. I fought every one of those a--holes including every special interest out there, who can make my life easier and better, because they wanna raise taxes on you and I won't, I, I fight them and keep them from doing it. And what do I get for that? Only thirteen percent of you all out there think I'm doing a good job. So f-- all of you. Not to mention the fact that I'm a f---ing, criminal investigations and my family's in jeopardy," Blagojevich said.
Greenlee also addressed allegations that Blagojevich tried to shakedown the CEO at Children's Memorial Hospital and a racetrack executive for a campaign contribution by holding up state money.
Leaving court Wednesday, Blagojevich said that the "false allegations" around Children's Memorial hurt the most. He said the "lies" are "shameful" and said he spent his career fighting for healthcare for children.
Blagojevich defense, We look "like buffoons"
On Wednesday morning, attorneys for former governor Rod Blagojevich asked for a mistrial, saying, ''The defense is being cut off at the knees.''
Attorney Lauren Kaeseberg told Judge James Zagel that because they are not allowed "to ask any meaningful questions" they are being made to look "like buffoons, like we don't know what we're doing."
Judge Zagel denied the motion for mistrial.
He also denied a motion from the defense to keep witness Rajinder Bedi, former emissary for Jesse Jackson Junior, from testifying. That motion was denied, too.
Blagojevich faces 20 counts in the corruption case. He is accused, among other things, of trying to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat appointment in exchange for his personal gain- either campaign cash or his own top job. Last year, he was convicted on one of 24 counts in his first trial. The jury was hung on the others.
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