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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Inside the Blagojevich Trial

Marla Cichowski



Blago Trial:Obama Wanted Ethics Bill Passed

June 10, 2010 - 11:12 AM | by: Marla Cichowski

PM Update

Not long before he was elected President, Barack Obama delivered a message to Illinois’ most powerful senator, Senate President Emil Jones.  Obama told Jones to pass a state ethics reform bill that Governor Blagojevich had recently vetoed.

Testimony this afternoon from Governor Blagojevich’s former Chief of Staff, Lon Monk, reveals Barack Obama called Illinois Senate President Emil Jones to ask him to “call the state ethics bill for a vote… so it didn’t negatively impact his (Obama’s) candidacy” (for President of the United States).  Afterall, Obama’s Presidential campaign was based on the message of “Hope” and “Change” from the typical back room deal politics.

According to Lon Monk, Governor Blagojevich had already cut a deal with Emil Jones. The deal: Emil Jones agrees not to call up the ethics reform bill for a vote in the Senate and Blagojevich will appoint Emil Jones to fill Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat, after Obama wins Presidential election. Monk testified Emil Jones was on board with the deal until Jones received a phone call from Barack Obama.  After that phone call, Jones changed his mind and as Lon Monk testified, “was going back on the deal.”

Later testimony from Lon Monk provided more details surrounding Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.’s interest in filling Obama’s vacant US Senate seat. In a recorded phone call played for the jury, Monk tells Blagojevich he was approached by a friend of Tony Rezko’s advocating for Jesse Jackson Jr. to be appointed to Obama’s senate seat.  ”He’ll (Jackson) offer you (Blago) fundraising and all kinds of stuff… “he’s (Jackson) got people calling me, ” Monk testified.  Blagojevich responds to Monk, “when I see you I’ll talk to you about some other ideas I have,” (about who should fill Obama’s seat).

The trial resumes Monday morning with more testimony from Lon Monk.


3:30pmET Update

Code words and hand gestures were the standard operating procedure for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s inner circle. The circle included his former Chief of Staff, Lon Monk and Blago’s two most important fundraisers, Chris Kelly and Tony Rezko.  The four men would typically use the code  ”1-2-3-4″ to refer to themselves in private meetings where they talked in-depth about making money for themselves through state business deals. During day two of his testimony, Lon Monk admitted to lying to FBI Agents when they first  interviewed him about alleged kickback deals. Monk says Blagojevich told him never to talk to anyone about their private meetings and what they were doing. Monk testified Blagojevich said,  ”If you’re asked about this, don’t say anything,” and then made a motion with his finger slashing across his throat which meant, keep your mouth shut. ——————————— Apparently yesterday in court Rod Blagojevich could be overheard by Govt prosecutors making remarks during Lon Monk’s testimony. The Govt brought it to Judge Zagel’s attention this morning saying Blago could be heard making remarks and gestures expressing his displeasure with Monk’stestimony. “It clearly distracted the jury and it’s not appropriate” said Assistant US Attorney Reid Schar Judge Zagel then said “both defendants (Blago and his brother) would be wise not to express any gestures … For their own benefit.” Blago’s attorney Sam Adam Jr said, “there’s no problem…”understood.” Also, Blago’s wife, Patti, who has sat in the first row every day since the trial started will probably have to leave the courtroom at some point during Monk’s testimony today. The Govt plans to ask Monk about a specific meeting that Monk had with Blago, Patti and political fundraiser Tony Rezko. Blago strolled into the federal courthouse this morning, again bypassing the long security line to get through the metal detectors. For the first time since yhr trial started he shyed away from speaking to reporters before heading upstairs to court. He wouldn’t even comment about the Chicago Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup last night. Blago’s attorney said he’s advised his client not to speak to media while witnesses are testifying on the stand. Blago’s former Chief of Staff, Lon Monk, continues his testimony today. Defense attorneys don’t expect to cross examine Monk until Monday at the earliest. Court is not in session on Fridays.

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