Blagojevich continues testimony in cross examination

June 6, 2011

by City Room and Associated Press

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Rod Blagojevich says Rahm Emanuel raised the issue of having then-Gov. Blagojevich appoint a successor to Emanuel's congressional seat in 2008 when Emanuel became White House chief of staff. Blagojevich says his staff told him the move would be unconstitutional. Normally, a special election is held for a congressional vacancy.

Blagojevich is testifying for a sixth day at his corruption retrial. Prosecutor Reid Schar introduced the issue of the congressional seat. He asked whether Emanuel had approached Blagojevich about making an appointment. Blagojevich agreed the purpose would be to give the appointee an advantage in a special election.

Blagojevich said he was told by his lawyers and political consultant that such an appointment would be unconstitutional. A spokesperson for Emanuel, now Chicago's mayor, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Today is the second day of prosecutors' cross examination of Blagojevich.  It's their first chance to challenge the claims Blagojevich has made in the two and a half year media blitz since his arrest because prosecutors don't comment publicly on pending cases.

They challenged some of those claims as they started their cross examination at the end of last week. They asked Blagojevich to explain things he said in press conferences and his book.

Prosecutors focused not on the allegations in the case but on Blagojevich's credibility.  Their first question was, "you are a convicted liar, correct?"

Blagojevich said yes but things got increasingly chaotic as Blagojevich gave long, evasive answers and prosecutor Reid Schar repeated his questions, demanding yes or no answers.  Schar says he had expected his cross examination to last a little more than a day though he says given Blagojevich's long answers, it may take until fall.

Additional reporting by Rob Wildeboer