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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Blago Trial: Rahm and Jesse Jackson Jr. Take Stand, no Fireworks

The entertaining circus that was the first Rod Blagojevich trial is certainly missing from the second trial, despite both Rahm Emanuel and Jesse Jackson, Jr. both taking the stand. The big difference so far is that in the first trial, the prosecution played a lot of tapes which actually served to ingratiate Blago with the public. They humanized him and were often quite funny, cuss words notwithstanding. The prosecution didn't do any of that this time around and Blago has garnered little to no attention as a result.

In the first trial, Blago's lawyers were effective at playing up the possibility that Emanuel, Jackson, Jarrett, and a host of other high profile people would be called to the stand, including Blago himself. It had an air of, 'if you think the prosecution's arguments were entertaining, you just wait.' What ensued was an anti-climax, the likes of which haven't been seen since Geraldo opened Capone's vault. No one was called. In hindsight, that may have been Blago's biggest mistake. He had an opportunity to capitalize on the inertia of the very dynamic circus atmosphere.

The second trial is proving to have the opposite kind of inertia. The prosecution induced yawn's and virtually no attention. When it became Blagojevich's turn, the decision to call Emanuel and Jackson to the stand didn't even get the ball rolling. Their testimony was a virtual non-event.

Via Westport News:
In their cross-examination of U.S. Rep Jesse Jackson Jr., prosecutors asked him about an unrelated incident, previously reported by the AP. Jackson confirmed Blagojevich had once considered Jackson's wife for a position as head of the Illinois lottery. Jackson said his wife didn't get the promised appointment after Jackson refused to give Blagojevich a $25,000 campaign donation.

Jackson claimed Blagojevich later apologized the appointment didn't pan out but made it clear the donation was part of the reason.

"He snapped both fingers and said, 'You should have given me that $25,000,'" Jackson testified, pantomiming a pose from the governor's idol, Elvis Presley.

Another high-profile witness to take the stand Wednesday was Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Emanuel testified that, in his former job as chief of staff to President Barack Obama, he knew of no deal in which Blagojevich had asked for a top job in exchange for appointing Obama's preferred candidate to the president-elect's vacant U.S. Senate seat in 2008.
This may all come down to whether Blago decides to throw a Hail Mary pass and testify at his own trial. It may be all he has left. If the testimony of Jackson and Emanuel isn't drawing the much needed attention Blago's team wants, there really aren't any more options.

Read it all.

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