More lengthy testimony is expected by former governor Rod Blagojevich this morning as he continues to tell his side of the story in his retrial on federal corruption charges. Yesterday, we live blogged Blagojevich's colorful -- and long-winded -- testimony, which you can check out here.
It looks like Blagojevich has just made it into the courthouse and will be on the stand again soon. We'll have more as soon as the action starts. In the meantime, check out yesterday's testimony given by the former governor and catch up on what's happened in the retrial thus far with our daily diary following the Blagojevich saga.
Update 1 (9:45 a.m.) Blagojevich is back on the stand as his teen daughter, Amy, sits in the courtroom next to her mother Patti. We'll have more in a moment.
Update 2 (10:35 a.m.) The former governor's testimony picked up where it left off yesterday with discussion of his allegedly shaking down horse track owner John Johnston for $100,000 in campaign funds in exchange for signing a bill that would benefit Johnston's industry. Blagojevich says Johnston was on a "call sheet" of potential campaign donors and had a notation detailing his commitment to donating the $100,000 by the end of October 2008. "With my experience with the Johnstons ... they always fulfilled contributions."
There was also discussion of a transcript from a November 13, 2008 phone call between Blagojevich and his brother Robert about a conversation the latter had with Lon Monk. In said conversation, Monk stated that Johnston would indeed come through with the hefty donation. Even though it was past the October promise date, Blagojevich says he thought the donation "was imminent."
From a transcript of a call two days later between the former governor and Monk, Blagojevich said "Lon was indicating to me that Johnny was getting t'ed off because Lon was being too persistent," in trying to get the $100,000 donation.
Blagojevich's testimony then started to veer off-course when he began discussing a Bulls game he later went to with Monk and a Motorola executive who told him about a "secret new phone" they were about to release. Judge Zagel then nudged Blago back to discussing the horse track allegations.
Update 3 (11:25 p.m.) Blagojevich is making nice with the jury's 15 women by bringing up his free rides for seniors and free breast cancer screening programs, even though said policies are not the topic of discussion. The seemingly celebrity-obssessed former governor also managed to throw in the names of two celebs during his testimony: Bernie Kosar and the late George Steinbrenner. Blago says Steinbrenner, who was friends with Johnston, was supposed to be the go-between for Chris Kelly and the Bush family, because it was "crystal clear" that Kelly wanted a presidential pardon for his looming income tax case in exchange for the signing of the race track bill, a plan which the former governor admitted to conversing with the late Kelly about.
Blagojevich also amused himself, and a few jurors, when he kept repeating "Madigan Schenanigans" to describe the "poison pills" he said Michael Madigan would put in bills in order to change the language and "make you do things you didn't want to do," while testifying about the race track bill. "Madigan did that a lot," he went on to say, while also calling the Speaker of the Illinois House a "very crafty and effective legislative leader."
Update 4 (12:12) It looks like Blagojevich's testimony is done for the day, but not before he provided some interesting tidbits of information and a few expletive-filled tapes were played for the jury. One of the tapes garnered a smile from Blagojevich's daughter when Patti looked at her after hearing the former governor say "that's bull----" in the audio tape.
Back to his testimony about Kelly, Blago said Chris called him on Thanksgiving, with the former governor's youngest daughter Annie having answered the phone, after not having heard from him for over a year. After discussing the potential pardon deal with Kelly on the phone, Blago boarded a state plane a few days later with his attorney Bill Quinlan to go to a governor's convention and discussed the call while en route to the Philadelphia event. During the plane ride, Quinlan told Blagojevich that Kelly told him he had an interest in the horse track bill and that he advised Kelly to show the Johnstons that he could get the former governor to sign the bill in order to get help with the pardon he was seeking.
The defense then played a tape of a December 4 call between Quinlan and Blago during which the ex-governor said "now I know why he called me on Thanksgiving ... he's full of sh--." That same day, Blagojevich says an aide called him saying that Kelly needs to meet with him right away. The former governor says he promptly called Quinlan upon getting that information. On the call with Quinlan, Blago says he was in support of the horse track bill, but said Kelly's involvement made him think, "I'm getting dragged into something that I'm not aware of." The ex governor said he had already gotten heat for signing the horse track bill back in 2006 after getting money from the Johnstons and "wanted to keep some separation between signing this bill and showing I got money from the Johnstons." Blago also pointed out that he was getting heat from the media at that point in time in 2008 for his relationship with Kelly. When asked directly if he was "holding the bill for a campaign contribution," Blago answered "no."
The former governor also detailed how he and Monk "were war gaming" about how the latter should approach Johnston for the promised $100,000 without crossing any lines. "We didn't want to tie the bill with the contribution ... we were following fundraising rules." After they were done "rehearsing to make sure he [Monk] didn't cross the line," Monk left to ask Johnston about the funds. When asked if he was "implicitly pushing for a campaign contribution," Blagojevich replied with an emphatic "no!"
Update 5 (12:40 p.m.) The jury is gone for the day, with instructions to return at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, but the lawyers are hanging around to discuss the tapes without their presence.