Blagojevich defense to call last witnesses
CHICAGO (AP) — Now that Rod Blagojevich has carried out his long-held pledge to testify in his own defense, attorneys for the impeached Illinois governor are expected to call two last witnesses at his retrial on corruption charges.
The defense has called three witnesses so far over three weeks, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
Blagojevich was on for most of the time — seven days — describing his poor childhood, denying all allegations against him and even acknowledging under cross-exam that he's a convicted liar.
It's unclear who the last two witnesses are.
The former governor's first trial last year ended with jurors deadlocked on all but one count. He was found guilty of lying to the FBI. He did not testify at that trial, and his defense called no witnesses.
Blagojevich is accused of seeking to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat in exchange for a high-profile job or campaign cash and shaking down business executives for political donations.
In often long-winded answers, Blagojevich insisted that he never sought to sell or trade President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat for a top job or campaign cash, or ever tried to shake down executives for contributions.
He argued that his talk captured on FBI wiretaps was merely brainstorming, and that he never took the schemes seriously or decided to carry them out. And though the judge barred such arguments, Blagojevich claimed he'd believed his conversations were legal and part of common political discourse.
Judge James Zagel said prosecutors could also be ready to present their closing arguments Wednesday. And he said he expects the jury to begin deliberating Thursday after the defense presents its closing.
The testimony stage of the retrial has lasted six weeks. The government presented a streamlined, three-week case and called 15 witnesses in trying to portray Blagojevich as a serial liar.