Zagel blocks Blagojevich defense from playing many wiretaps

May 27, 2011

(Getty/Frank Polich)
Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich makes his way into federal court to resume his corruption re-trial Wednesday.

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich could take the stand Thursday in his own defense. But his attorneys would not be allowed to play many of the secretly taped phone calls they'd hoped to.

Blagojevich's spokesman told The Associated Press that the former governor was planning to testify. But his lawyers weren't making that commitment Wednesday night on their way out of court.

"We don't know for sure, but it's likely. It's likely," replied Sheldon Sorosky.

"He's going to tell the truth if he takes the stand, and he's going to be all right," Aaron Goldstein said.

Regardless, the lawyers spent all Wednesday afternoon preparing for testimony from Blagojevich, reviewing which recorded phone calls would be played for the jury.

Prosecutors repeatedly objected, and Judge James Zagel repeatedly sided with them. He told Blagojevich's team, "You have a superior piece of evidence," noting that Blagojevich himself can testify to the same things the tapes would show.

The judge said he could change his mind. If prosecutors impeach Blagojevich's credibility on the stand, Zagel said, the defense could play some of the recordings to support his testimony.

Earlier on Wednesday, the defense called its first two witnesses: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.