A Defiant Rod Blagojevich: "I Didn't Lie to the FBI"

[Video no longer available]

A very defiant Rod Blagojevich addresses reporters in a statement after the verdict. It's really worth watching.

The false statement charge to the FBI was made during a voluntary interview he gave to agents in 2005. Rod says the FBI wouldn't let him have a stenographer present during the interview. It wasn't taped. He says he want's the people of Illinois to know he didn't lie to the FBI. He thanks the jurors for their hard work. And he castigates the feds for persecuting him. He vows to appeal the false statement conviction. In a nutshell: [More...]

"We didn't even put a defense on and the government couldn't prove its case"

He says he didn't let down the People of Illinois and he didn't lie to the FBI.

Even if it turns out only one juror held out for acquittal, hopefully, the Government learned its lesson and will pare down the charges for the retrial. The RICO charges were overkill, the jury instructions were hopelessly confusing and in my opinion, both doomed their case. They also should drop Robert Blagojevich from the case entirely.

At the beginning of the trial, I wrote about all the motions the Government filed seeking to restrict what Rod and Robert could raise as a defense or refer to in court. It objected to the defense playing all or most of the tapes.It sought to limit his cross-examination of cooperators Tony Rezko and Stuart Levine (who ended up not being called by the Government.)

In one[motion], they ask [Rod] be prevented from bringing up things that might encourage jury nullification. In another, they ask the court "to preclude counsel from requesting discovery from witnesses or government counsel, moving the Court for such discovery, or otherwise commenting on discovery matters, in the presence of the jury." They ask that he be "barred from referring to ... excluded evidence or commenting on the Court’s evidentiary rulings in front of the jury". ("For example, comments by counsel or witnesses along the lines, “If it was up to us, we would play all the tapes” are improper.")

The Government asks Team Blago not be allowed to mention the potential penalties faced by the defendants if convicted. They ask the court to "exclude all evidence of defendants’ lawfulness and/or non-corrupt conduct, except for reputation or opinion evidence offered by character witnesses strictly in accord with the limitations of Federal Rule of Evidence 405(a)...

The Government wants to ban all mention of the death or suicide of former defendant Christopher Kelly. It wants to ban all reference to Blago's impeachment and removal from office. They say it's irrelevant and happened after the crimes.

The Government says it wants no evidence about Blago's good acts[even though it acknowledged]there's no rule requiring advance notice of a defendant's intent to offer such evidence.

Remember how Blogojevich's lawyer, Sam Adam, Jr., was muzzled in his closing and threatened with contempt if he mentioned "missing witnesses" the Government could have but didn't call to testify.

And remember Patrick Fitzgerald's initial press conference announcing the indictment saying Rod's crime spree would make Abraham Lincoln roll over in his grave. Talk about prejudicing the potential jury pool.

It would be nice when a retrial comes around if Rod Blagojevich is allowed to present a defense based on his theory of the case, to challenge the credibility of the Government's witnesses and to expose witness bias and any motive to lie. He shouldn't be restricted to merely responding to the government's theory.

When you can't trust in the fairness of the trial, the resulting verdict lacks credibility. Regardless of your opinion of Rod Blagojevich, next time around, we need more fairness. The playing field needs to be level. Rod won't be the last defendant tried in federal court, and the thought that the limits placed on his defense will be precedent for similar tactics and rulings in other cases, is a troubling one.

Update: Transcript of portions of his statement from the Chicago Sun Times:

"The federal government -- and this particular prosecutor -- did everything he could to target me and prosecute me, persecute me, put pressure on my family, try to take our home, take me away me from our kids, arrest me," Blagojevich said. "That very prosecutor said that he was stopping a 'crime spree' before it happened. Well, this jury just showed you . . . notwithstanding the fact that the government through everything but the kitchen sink at me, that, on every count except for one - on every charge except for one -- they could not prove that I did anything wrong."

"This is a persecution. We have police officers who are being gunned down on the street. We have children who can't play in front of their homes in the summertime because they might get gunned down. And we have a prosecutor who has wasted . . . tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to keep persecuting me, persecuting my family, take me away from my little girls, as well as take my home away from us."

"They threw everything they could at me -- 24 charges that I've said from the beginning are false, and the jury agreed that the government did not prove its case.

"And let me also point out that we didn't even put a defense on, and the government didn't prove its case. Patti and I are going to continue the fight, because this fight is a lot bigger than just me and my family."

< Why Retry Rod and Robert Blagojevich? Enough is Enough | Blagojevich Jury Foreman Describes Jury Split >
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  • Display: Sort:
    1st lesson: 5th amendment. (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Ben Masel on Tue Aug 17, 2010 at 07:54:44 PM EST
    Don't talk to the FBI without your attorney present and YOUR tape recorder running.

    Good one (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Aug 17, 2010 at 08:06:16 PM EST
    the jails are filled with people who thought if they could only tell their side of the story, the cops would see it their way. It rarely happens.

    I blame the parents. (none / 0) (#3)
    by Ben Masel on Tue Aug 17, 2010 at 09:27:47 PM EST
    kids should be taught their 4th and 5th Amendment rights by the age of 4.

    Yet the FBI... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by kdog on Tue Aug 17, 2010 at 09:49:52 PM EST
    can lie to you all day long.

    Welcome to our world Gov...you tell 'em.

    Yup (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by squeaky on Tue Aug 17, 2010 at 09:54:27 PM EST
    They are professional liars who study the art of deception.  

    Talk about having the deck stacked...  not to mention the unlimited resources of the Federal government..


    All those prosecutor motions... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Wed Aug 18, 2010 at 07:57:58 AM EST
    Jeralyn highlighted were a real eye-opener too...justice is the last thing on their mind.

    Should be required reading for every potential juror...you never know how much of the story you're not getting in the box.