CHICAGO (AP) — Defense attorneys at Rod Blagojevich's corruption retrial tried to chip away at the testimony of a former aide to the ousted governor Thursday, hinting that Blagojevich never intended to personally benefit from his ability to name a replacement for President Barack Obama in the Senate.
Robert Greenlee, who served as deputy governor under Blagojevich, looked flustered at times as defense attorney Aaron Goldstein peppered him with questions including, "Have you ever lied to the governor?"
An objection from federal prosecutors kept Greenlee from answering that question. Judge James Zagel warned Goldstein that his inquiry was too broad and could cover Greenlee lying to the governor about whether he liked his tie, for example.
Witnesses, including Greenlee, have testified that Blagojevich discussed appointing Obama's preferred candidate to the seat, Valerie Jarrett, in exchange for a high-paying, high-powered government or private-sector job.
Prosecutors have focused early on the most serious charge Blagojevich faces — that he tried to sell or trade Obama's Senate seat. In multiple phone conversations secretly recorded by the FBI, Blagojevich can be heard asking how much a particular job pays and insisting that he wants to make more money than his salary as governor
Once Jarrett took a job in the White House instead, Greenlee said Blagojevich and his aides turned to other possible candidates — and considered what they could do for the governor. One of those options was Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, whose father Michael Madigan is speaker of the Illinois House and who Blagojevich felt was standing in the way of his legislative agenda. Blagojevich said he could appoint Lisa Madigan as a way to get her father to be more cooperative.
Under cross-examination, Greenlee acknowledged that the "Lisa Madigan deal" was, at one time, the preferred option for Blagojevich, a deal that would benefit him politically but not personally.
Blagojevich denies any wrongdoing. His first trial ended with jurors deadlocked on all but one charge. He was convicted of lying to the FBI. This time, he faces 20 charges.