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updated: 6/2/2011 1:06 PM

Blagojevich embarassed by cabinet 'brush off'

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  • Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich returns today for his 5th day of testimony.

      Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich returns today for his 5th day of testimony.

 
Associated Press

Rod Blagojevich has returned to the stand for a fifth day at his corruption retrial.

The ousted Illinois governor is expected to testify further Thursday about the allegation that he sought to sell or trade President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat.

On Wednesday, Blagojevich tried to address the most infamous of his comments about the Senate seat on FBI wiretap recordings. In the comment, Blagojevich referred to the Senate appointment as "golden" and used an obscenity.

Blagojevich fumbled through his explanation when his attorney asked it.

Blagojevich stammered, saying he was afraid to answer. He went on to say the rare chance to appoint a senator was "a unique opportunity."

The 54-year-old faces 20 criminal counts, including attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit bribery. He denies all wrongdoing.

Blagojevich told jurors he was "embarrassed" that one of President Barack Obama's allies quickly dismissed his idea of asking the then president-elect for a Cabinet post.

The ousted governor testified Thursday that he met with Obama ally and union leader Tom Balanoff in November 2008 and suggested he'd be interested in becoming secretary of Health and Human Services.

Balanoff testified earlier for the government that he felt Blagojevich was asking for the post in exchange for naming Obama's pick for his vacated Senate seat. Balanoff says he told Blagojevich it wasn't going to happen.

Blagojevich says he was embarrassed by the "flat-out dismissal" and felt that he looked bad in front of his staff. He says he wasn't asking for the post in exchange for the seat.

Blagojevich says he seriously considered appointing Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to the U.S. Senate in exchange for working out a wish list of initiatives with her father.

The ousted governor is on the stand at his corruption retrial for a fifth day Thursday, addressing the most explosive allegation against him -- that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat. He denies that.

Blagojevich says he had a wish list of legislation that he needed Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan's help to get passed.

That list included getting a capital bill passed, expansion of health care and balancing two budgets.

Blagojevich said one suggestion to pay for the initiatives was to put cameras on state highways to catch speeders.

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