Inherit The Windbag: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jul 20, 2010 2:00PM
After almost a week off, the Blagojevich Trial got off to a rousing re-start as the defense began its case by calling Robert Blagojevich, co-defendant and brother of the former gov to the stand. And while there's a distinct possibility Rod himself could take the stand as early as this afternoon - oh, how we wish there was a live feed of the testimony - the focus yesterday was on Robert.
- The defense kicked off with a very brief questioning of Julie Blagojevich, Robert's wife. She testified to meeting with Rod and Patti in 2008, after Rod had asked Robert to help with his campaign, and asking the Blagos about the federal investigation. They claimed it was behind them.
- As Robert began his testimony, his attorney Michael Ettinger, played up Robert's military service and business experience, trying to further distance the brothers. It was a distance echoed in testimony as Robert described how the two began to drift apart as they got older, “He was legal, political. I was military, business. We drifted.” He also testified to attending Rod's 2002 inauguration, helping with the 2006 campaign, and of accepting the offer to help in 2008.
- Robert testified, “Bottom line for me was never condition any fundraising request on a governmental action. A contract, a favorable policy action, I was told never to tie the two, and I never did.”
- Robert denied participating in fundraising talks with several of the businessmen who had already testified and denied being part of a shakedown of Children's Hospital CEO Patrick Magoon.
- Discussing the Senate seat appointment and a conversation caught on tape, Robert claims he was giving Rod, "brotherly advice" and not advice as a paid adviser, denying any role in the pick.
- On the matter of Jesse Jackson, Jr., Robert claimed he thought it was a joke and that he was offered $6 million in fundraising for Rod by some of Jackson's supporters in exchange for an appointment, not $1.5 million.
- But as the day drew to a close, and cross-examination had just begun, Robert's credibility, particularly to where he had tried to maintain a separation between fundraising and politics, took a hit thanks to a new government tape which has Robert telling Rod to "horse-trade" with Obama to help shut down U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation. Robert's defense of his words on the tape: “I used it in the context of just what politicians do."
Robert's cross-examination continues this morning, and then? It could be Rod Time.