Blago is 'serious' about political comeback
By Matt DeLong
After a jury deadlocked on 23 of 24 federal charges related to corruption last week, former governor Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.) said he is "serious" about attempting a return to politics if a new trial fails to convict him on corruption charges.
"If you're asking me, do I believe that there's a potential political comeback in the future, when I'm vindicated, absolutely I do," Blagojevich said on "Fox News Sunday."
Blagojevich denied reports that he charged $80 for photos taken with him at the Chicago Comic Con this weekend, insisting instead that he gave them away for free. However, he said, he charged $50 for autographs because he had to make a living to support his family and accused federal prosecutors of "squeezing" him financially to force him to give up and admit to things he didn't do. He called the event "a way to get out among the people."
He said the tapes that prosecutors played in court were of him talking to lawyers and advisers to "consider a variety of options" rather than a concerted effort to sell President Obama's former Senate seat. Blagojevich admitted meeting with Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) the day before his arrest but would not say whether Jackson had discussed raising campaign contributions for Blagojevich in advance of being appointed to the seat.
The former governor repeatedly called on U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to release all of the tapes and allow the public to decide whether laws were broken.
Blagojevich said the prosecution's case was an attempt to "criminalize politics." Federal prosecutors failed to prove any corruption and "confirmed everything I said," even though his lawyers chose not to put up a defense, he said. If he faces a new trial, Blagojevich vowed to mount a defense and call President Obama, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and others to testify.
August 22, 2010; 10:48 AM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency
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