Blagojevich on governor job: 'I want to get...out of here'

  • John Harris, a former top aide to ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich

    John Harris, a former top aide to ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Associated Press file

Posted6/23/2010 12:01 AM

Testimony of John Harris, chief of staff to Rod Blagojevich, was dry on the stand, but damaging in the extreme as the prosecution played tapes of conversations the two men had as they "war-gamed" plans to fill Barack Obama's Senate seat after he won the presidential election in 2008.

The tapes showed Blagojevich scheming to appoint close Obama friend Valerie Jarrett to the seat in exchange for some appointment that would free him from the governor's mansion and the federal investigation into his activities. At one point, as Harris said Blagojevich could tell Obama emissaries he needed something to strengthen his position as governor and better serve the people of Illinois, Blagojevich interjected, "and me," rejecting an altruistic argument.


"I want to get the (expletive) out of here," Blagojevich said. "The objective is to get a good gig over there."

The tapes showed them discussing a cabinet appointment as head of Health and Human Services, an ambassadorship to India and even the post of U.N. ambassador.

"No way," Harris said.

They talked of how Blagojevich could turn the conversation with Obama's representatives toward himself.

"First, you talk about the sacrifices you've made, personal and professional," Harris recommended.

"Which is what?" Blagojevich responded.

At that point, a look at the defense table found attorney Sam Adam Jr. with his chin in his hand, and his colleague Aaron Goldstein took a deep breath, as if they knew now, if they hadn't before, how much they had their work cut out for them.

The jury, however, has given few clues about how it's taking the prosecution case against Blagojevich. Jurors follow the tapes in transcripts provided by the prosecution, and most take notes throughout on pads provided for the purpose. Not one flinches at the abundant profanity on the tapes.

One juror, however, a former Marine wounded in Beirut in the '80s, seemed even more dour than usual as the day went on. As Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton pounded each detail on the tapes home in questioning Harris after they were played, he followed the dialogue intently, looking from one to the other.

Just another sign of what appeared to be a dark day for Blagojevich in his corruption trial.