Blagojevich issues challenge to prosecutors
A fiery Rod Blagojevich issued a challenge to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald Tuesday: "Show up in court," he said, "and explain to everybody - explain to the whole world - why you don't want the tapes that you made played in court."
Federal prosecutors Monday issued a motion trying to limit the defense from mentioning how they want all the secretly recorded Blagojevich tapes played, and also trying to prevent them from mentioning the suicide of Chris Kelly, the adviser who pleaded guilty to corruption charges before killing himself last year.
The defense issued a response Tuesday saying the government is trying to deny the use of "all exculpatory evidence" and "gain an appallingly unfair advantage."
"The defendant's position has always been a consistent one," the motion added. "Allow either side to play any recording at least once before the jury."
A hearing is scheduled before Judge James Zagel in U.S. District Court in Chicago at noon Wednesday.
Standing in front of his lawyers' Hyde Park townhouse Tuesday, dressed in jeans and a sport jacket, Blagojevich made that same familiar demand to "play all the tapes," but ratcheted up the rhetoric as well.
"It's bad enough that they've lied about me," he said. "Now they're trying to keep all the evidence that proves my innocence from being heard before a jury.
"They're doing it for two reasons," he added. "One, they know that when all the tapes have been played they will prove my innocence. ... And then the second reason they're doing this is the reason they know and we know - there's a smoking gun on those tapes, and the smoking gun is the government is covering up a big lie." He suggested the case against him was fabricated.
Federal prosecutors declined to comment before Wednesday's hearing.
Blagojevich also defended his wife, Patti, who was linked to alleged ghost payrolling for receiving real-estate commissions in the "Santiago proffer" laying out evidence in the case filed last week. Blagojevich called that "hitting below the belt," adding, "All the money she earned she worked for, and she paid taxes."
He called prosecutors "liars" and "cowards."
Blagojevich closed on a confrontational note. "I'm here," he said, "to issue a challenge," which he made to Fitzgerald personally. "I'll be in court tomorrow. I hope you're man enough to be in court tomorrow, too."
The former governor then went back into his attorneys' offices without responding to questions from reporters.