Blagojevich impeachment trial, Thursday, January 29, 2009, Ellis closing argument, Rod Blagojevich closing arguments, Illinois Senate, Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn, Blagojevich secret recordings, Springfield IL
Governor Rod Blagjevich is giving his closing arguments as I write
this. He is attempting to paint a picture of his concern for citizens
and obtaining flu shots when in fact he used his position as
governor to gain power and money for himself.
From the Chicago Tribune website, January 29, 2009
“Closing arguments under way at Blagojevich’s impeachment trial
10:56 a.m. Blagojevich won’t stick around; Quinn in the wings
Blagojevich will leave the Senate and the statehouse immediately
after his closing argument to return home on a state aircraft,
to avoid any “plane issues,” spokesman Lucio Guerrero said. State
lawmakers and Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn have said Blagojevich is not
entitled to state transporation home if he is convicted and
removed before he leaves.
Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn is at the statehouse. Quinn came own on a
state plane with Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, who will swear
him in if he becomes governor. His two sons will also be here.
10:48 a.m. Ellis finishes, Blagojevich next
At 10:40 a.m., Ellis turned to Blagojevich’s public denouncements
of the impeachment trial as a kangaroo court that was rigged with
“These rules are even-handed and fair. They apply evenly to both
sides,” Ellis said. But he said Blagojevich was “mischaracterizing
“He claimed the fix in. That’s not what I have seen. I have seen a
body that has … done honor to this process and honor to this
constitution,” Ellis said. “We believe we have more that adequately
proved an abuse of power.”
Ellis said senators did not have to be satisfied that Blagojevich
did all the things he is accused of in the 13-count article of
impeachment. They only have to find a “pattern of abuse,” however
many counts that includes, Ellis said.
“The people of this state deserve so much better,” Ellis said in a
quiet voice. “Governor Blagojevich should be removed from office.”
With that Ellis finished the first part of his closing argument. He
is allowed another 30 minutes after Blagojevich speaks.
10:40 a.m. Ellis blasts Blagojevich circumventing lawmakers to
expand health care
Ellis said 60 conversations were recorded between the governor’s
home and his campaign office.
“Sixty conversations. All in which the governor puts his own interests
first,” Ellis said. “Is that not an abuse of power, right there?”
Halfway through his initial hour, Ellis turned to connections between
the Blagojevich adminsitration and convicted fundraiser Tony Rezko.
In one example, Ali Ata, executive director of the Illinois Finance
Authority, told a federal court that he bought his position at the
state with two large contributions to Blagojevich, Ellis said.
The governor also circumvented the authority of the state legislature
in pushing forward a state health care plan with getting lawmaker
approval, the House prosecutor said.
“Whether or not you belive that expanding FamilyCare is a good idea,”
Ellis said. “The point is not the ends, it’s the means.”
“We are a country of laws, and everybody, including the governor, must
obey them,” Ellis said.
10:29 a.m. Blagojevich arrives at capitol
Gov. Rod Blagojevich has arrived at the statehouse for closing
arguments in his Senate impeachment trial.
10:28 a.m. Ellis plays Blagojevich secret recordings
Ellis told senators that Blagojevich wanted to raise $2.5 million by
year’s end and engaged in three schemes of coercion.
One involved an $8 million grant to Children’s Memorial Hospital
that he wanted to result in a $50,000 campaign contribution.
“He even contemplated breaking his commitment, holding back the money,”
Another involved a $1.8 billion tollway project that Blagojevich
allegedly wanted to fetch a $500,000 campaign contribution.
“If they don’t perform, eff ‘em,” Ellis quoted Blagojevich as saying.
The third scheme was a plan to trade his signature on horse racing
impact fee bill for a campaign contribution from a horse track owner.
Ellis played a series of FBI recordings of Blagojevich trying to make
sure funds were raised from the horsetrack owner before a new law
banning contributions with people doing business with the state took
effect on Jan. 1. The track owner, Johnny Johnston, was good for the
donation, the governor’s aides told him.
“But clearly before the end of the year, right?” Blagojevich’s voice
could be heard saying. His former chief of staff, Lon Monk, told the
track owner the timing of the donation could cause “skittishness” if
made too late. “Good,” the governor replied in the intercepted cell
The last tape Ellis played was between Monk and Blagojevich in which
Ellis said Monk told the governor he could apply some pressure to
secure a political donation from the racetrack owner before the
governor signed a bill that would benefit him.
“Give John Johnston a call,” Monk urged. “It’s a two-minute
“I’d be happy to do it,” the governor responded.
“I think it’s better if you do it — just from a pressure point of
view,” Monk said.
“Yeah. Good.” Blagojevich said.
“I’m telling you he’s gonna be good for it,” Monk said later in the
conversation. “I got in his face.”
“Good,” the governor said. “A whole year,” he lamented about the
delay in receiving the contribution.
10:16 a.m. Ellis walks senators through U.S. Senate seat, Tribune
Prosecutor David Ellis began taking senators through the impeachment
allegations, gesturing behind him to transcripts of secretly-recorded
conversation excerpts on poster board.
The U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama was a
“golden thing,” Ellis quoted Blagojevich as saying.
“’It’s an effing valuable thing. You just don’t give it away for
nothing,'” Ellis said, quoting from federal transcripts. “The governor
wanted to make a trade.”
Ellis talked about federal allegations that Blagojevich tried to
pressure Tribune Co.
“The evidence clearly showed that the governor tried to put a price
tag on financial assistance to the Tribune company,” Ellis said. He
had 15 conversations with former chief of staff John Harris in a
month, repeatedly directing Harris to talk to high-ranking Tribune
Company executives, Ellis said. Before helping with public financing
for the company’s sale of the Chicago Cubs, he wanted the company to
fire editorial board members at the Chicago Tribune who were critical
There would be no money from the state to help with the sale of the
Chicago Cubs “unless those editorial board members are fired,” Ellis
“The governor new what he was doing was harmful,” Ellis said. He
agreed what Harris was doing should be done in person, not on the
“Don’t push too hard, but you know what you gotta do, right?'”
It was all “an abuse of power,” Ellis said.
10:11 a.m. Prosecutor David Ellis’ closing argument”
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