The former governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, better known as “Blago” was on Greta’s On the Record last night. Blagojevich is asking a court to subpoena Barack Obama for his coming trial. It is alleged that Blago attempted “to sell” Illinois U.S. Senator Barack Obama’s Illinois senate seat. He was videotaped and wiretapped. The prosecution wants to allow only certain video tapes. Blago wants them all admitted into evidence and says they will prove him innocent. There is a “smoking gun” he says. This was an intriguing interview. See the transcript below the video.
Thanks for being here.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Governor,
you’re in a little bit of a fix. You’ve this trial coming up June 3rd,
and a lot of pre-trial matters have come to light recently and I want to
talk to you about — let’s start first with the tapes. The prosecution
has wiretapped you, has tapes of you, and there’s a dispute over what’s
going to be played in court. What’s the dispute?
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, they taped my
conversations for six weeks. Our government came in to the sanctity of
this home, actually, and put the wiretaps on these telephones and a lot
of other telephones.
I’ve taken the position from the very beginning that I’m
innocent of everything and anything they’re falsely accusing me of, and
that a lot of the truth can be found in those tapes. And from the
beginning, I’ve said, Play all the tapes.
My lawyers were instructed by me to challenge the government. We
waived the opportunity to challenge the tapes, happily did that, and
challenged the government to say that, Allow both sides to play any tape
they want. They should play anything they want to play in court and let
us play any tape that we want to play in court. The government declined
to comment, and then they’ve recently gone into court, the snuck into
court to try to get the judge to rule that all the tapes should not be
This case in so many ways is upside down. Mr. Fitzgerald, the
prosecutor, invades the sanctity of my home. The government is in here
looking at those private conversations. Those are his tapes and he’s
going to court to suppress his own tapes. And I’m the one saying play
them all because I note the truth is on those tapes and will show I did
VAN SUSTEREN: You say he snuck into court. You
had no notice the prosecutor was going into court and say we only want
to play these tapes and not all the tapes?
BLAGOJEVICH: The way the motion was written by
the government with footnotes and buried in the body of a motion that
was filled with a lot of other things was an incipient request to
suggest that not all the tapes be heard. They even misled and said the
judge ruled that all the tapes wouldn’t be played which was not the case
at the time they filed the motion.
VAN SUSTEREN: Has your lawyer heard all
BLAGOJEVICH: We had tapes for months.
VAN SUSTEREN: You have copies of the
BLAGOJEVICH: Yes. Let me say this. I’ve been
consistent from the beginning. From the moment I was falsely accused, I
said long before we had access to the tapes, play all the tapes, because
I know who I am and I would not do the things they are suggesting that I
And I know that notwithstanding some language on the tapes, the
use of pro fan, which I have apologized for. I didn’t know —
VAN SUSTEREN: That is not a crime. Do you have
any idea how many hours of tapes the prosecution intends to play at your
June 3rd trial?
BLAGOJEVICH: I don’t know that. But what I do
know is they have in a very dishonest way taken selective snippets of
conversations out of context, purposely misleading the people and
purposely providing false information.
VAN SUSTEREN: They’ve identified what tapes they
are going to play? You know what they are going to play?
BLAGOJEVICH: No. They’ve quoted some of them.
They’ve released a couple of them. And they’ve done it in a way where
snippets of conversations were taken out of context.
And if you are allowed to listen to the breadth of the
conversation — again, I can’t comment on what is on the tapes. The very
government that taped me went into court to say I can’t what is on them
nor can I allow to you take a look at them.
VAN SUSTEREN: There’s a gag order ton this part
of it, the contents of the tape?
BLAGOJEVICH: That’s correct. And the
government sought that gag order. They’ve been free to take snippets of
conversation out whenever they choose to do it, and it is designed to
mislead the public.
VAN SUSTEREN: Hasn’t the judge said, OK
Governor Blagojevich, you identify what tapes you want heard and I’ll
consider it so it is not a complete bar at this point?
BLAGOJEVICH: That’s correct. The judge
seems to be a fair and thoughtful man. He’s obviously a very smart,
intelligent man who understands and knows the law. So he has said two
things. He said one publicly that if I testify that he wail will you us
to play the tapes we want to play.
VAN SUSTEREN: Just if you testify, not
for a doctrine of complete? Let’s say hypothetically, a tape is put on
that has half a thought, and it is your position that half of thought
falsely convoys a message. Are you allowed to play the entire thought
without having to take the witness stand?
BLAGOJEVICH: I don’t know that yet. The
judge has said that if I testify, which will, by the way, he will allow
us to play the tapes that we ask for. This is as I’ve been told by my
And the judge said in the last court day, and I was
there because I challenged the prosecutor to be there too, to explain
why he’s preventing all the tapes from being heard except the tapes that
he went out and got.
But the judge said that — instructed my lawyers to
submit to him the different tapes that we would be requesting to be
heard in court. And so, I’m cautiously optimistic and hopeful he will
VAN SUSTEREN: What is the prosecution’s
opposition? Do they think you are going to waste a lot of time and play
400 inconsequential conversations and bore the jury to death or do they
have a more sinister purpose to evade, confuse, or do something with
BLAGOJEVICH: I fervently believe the
prosecution is trying to cover- up their misdeeds.
VAN SUSTEREN: Which misdeeds?
BLAGOJEVICH: That they arrested a
sitting governor and falsely accused him of things he didn’t do and did
it in a super sensational press conference on December the ninth, 2008,
this is what Mr. Fitzgerald did. And e used and quoted from the tapes
from snippets of the tapes to suggest that was the basis for arresting a
governor in a state like Illinois — unprecedented.
And he did it, and he said, and I’m quoting, that he was
doing to “stop a crime spree.” The reality is when people hear the
whole truth and hear what was on those conversations, the days and weeks
leading up to those acts by the government, by the prosecutors, there
was no crime spree. He lied.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why did he do that? Just
for the sake of lying or something more sinister? Not that lying isn’t
BLAGOJEVICH: I believe the effort to
prevent all the tapes being played is designed to keep justice from
being heard in court as it is to cover-up their wrongdoing and misdeeds.
To suggest you should — to arrest a sitting governor,
to state in a press conference where the whole world is listening that
you have a governor trying to sell a Senate seat for money which the
allegation he made at the press conversation that he had heard
conversations over the telephone, had to come in at 6:00 in the morning
in my home where my little girls are sleeping, invade the privacy of our
home to say they had to stop the crime spree before it happened is just
a flat out lie.
The tapes show what the truth is. I have said from the
beginning play all the tapes. Why is my accuser is trying to prevent the
full truth from being heard? I believe part of it is because he’s
covering up the fact that he told this big lie that foreseeably led to a
chain of events that would remove a governor from office that would
undo the will of a people, undo an election, and he doesn’t ever want
anybody to know that’s what he did.
There’s a smoking gun on these tapes, and that smoking
gun is directed and pointed at the prosecutor.
VAN SUSTEREN: You are in essence accused
of selling the Senate seat vacated by President Obama. Everyone that
you ever had a conversation with about that Senate seat, is there any
way you could have spoken to someone and not have it tapped. Did you
have a conversation in the car, for instance, with the other person?
BLAGOJEVICH: I had a conversation with
Senator Dick Durbin.
VAN SUSTEREN: Where?
BLAGOJEVICH: In my office in Chicago.
VAN SUSTEREN: Was your office bugged?
BLAGOJEVICH: They say it wasn’t. So
Senator Durbin and I, we spoke about the Senate seat, and he offered to
be a go between. I decided that my first choice I was going to try to
appoint the daughter of my political nemesis, the House speaker was
blocking a public works bill that would create 500,000 jobs he was
blocking, health care for over 300,000 families, working people in
And I wanted a guarantee in writing to not raise taxes
VAN SUSTEREN: They say they didn’t bug
BLAGOJEVICH: The office downtown
Chicago, that conversation with Senator Durbin, my recollection was
there. Bu I spoke to Senator Harry Reid —
VAN SUSTEREN: On the phone?
BLAGOJEVICH: On the telephone from my
campaign office. I spoke to Harry Reid about the Senate seat, enlisting
his help. Senator Menendez, the head of the Senate campaign committee
for the Democrats, who expressed an interest —
VAN SUSTEREN: On the phone?
BLAGOJEVICH: On the telephone, working
out what was going to be what I called the best political deal in the
political history second to the Louisiana Purchase, because I was going
to hold my nose and appoint someone who I thought was working against
the people in many ways, but notwithstanding, her father was creating
VAN SUSTEREN: Who else did you talk to?
BLAGOJEVICH: I spoke to Rahm Emanuel. I
spoke to several people.
VAN SUSTEREN: Who are the sort of the
main players in this discussion of the Senate seat? Who did you talk to
— I’m trying to figure out who is going to be on tape and who is not.
BLAGOJEVICH: I can’t tell you that
VAN SUSTEREN: Who do you remember
talking to, to give me some idea?
BLAGOJEVICH: Again, I spoke to Senator
Reid, Senator Menendez, then Congressman Rahm Emanuel days after the
election right here from this room, and several other people about
potential scenarios on the Senate seat.
VAN SUSTEREN: A lot of the
conversations about the Senate seat maybe some that aren’t on tape but a
lot are or should be because they are done by telephone?
BLAGOJEVICH: Most of the conversations I
was engaged in during that six week period had been tape recorded.
VAN SUSTEREN: You mentioned President
Obama. You have filed notice to the court that would you like to
subpoena him. And you have enumerated a number of reasons. What is it
that you think Senator Obama — President Obama, then-Senate Obama,
could offer you at trial on June 3rd that would be helpful to your case?
BLAGOJEVICH: I think President Obama
can help prove my innocence.
VAN SUSTEREN: How?
BLAGOJEVICH: Let me say this, before
anybody says I’m interested in bringing everybody down with me. That’s
completely not the case. I’ve done nothing wrong.
What I’m interested in is for the whole truth to come
out that neither did I do anything wrong, President Obama didn’t do
anything wrong, the senators that I talked to didn’t do anything wrong
either. And so they should come into court and tell the truth as they
know it. Swear on the Holy Bible as I’m looking forward to do —
VAN SUSTEREN: I got that, but what is
it that — the judge is going to say how is President Obama going to
help your case? He is going to ask that flat out to your lawyer. Tell me
BLAGOJEVICH: Again, a lot of evidence
and information that I’m prohibited by court order because it is under
seal to tell you. So there’s relevance connected to that.
VAN SUSTEREN: In the pleading your
lawyers talked about a conversation in December ’08, a conversation.
President Obama called you?
BLAGOJEVICH: Again, I can’t — because
of the court order and me following the law I can’t comment specifically
on those telephone conversations. My lawyers filed motions in court.
They redacted, as far as I understand, they redacted the substance of
those. There was a computer glitch apparently that made some of this
stuff unwittingly public — the media found it.
VAN SUSTEREN: You see that still as
part of the seal?
BLAGOJEVICH: It is still part of seal.
VAN SUSTEREN: What is the breadth of
the gag order? What can you or can’t talk about?
BLAGOJEVICH: I can’t talk about the
evidence that we have and we know that is currently under seal, which is
as far as I know everything. I can tell you independently what I
VAN SUSTEREN: Can you tell me
independently what recollect about the conversation you had with
President Obama in December of ’08?
BLAGOJEVICH: Again, I don’t think I
can. I don’t think I should in that particular case. President Obama and
I, I can recall independently, spoke at the governor’s event at the
Independence Hall in Philadelphia days before I was arrested.
VAN SUSTEREN: In person?
BLAGOJEVICH: In person. And a lot of
other governors —
VAN SUSTEREN: Was it about the Senate
seat, just generally?
BLAGOJEVICH: I don’t think I should say
what we talked about. It will all eventually —
VAN SUSTEREN: If it is not about the
Senate seat, I have a hard time figuring out why he would be a witness
that the court is going to allow you to call.
The court ought to let you play any tapes that in any
way exculpate you or even tend to. They should let you call witnesses
that will help you in your defense. The one thing the court won’t do is
let you call someone who doesn’t have anything to benefit you.
BLAGOJEVICH: Again, there’s information
and there’s evidence that is under seal. And I’m prohibited by a court
order from specifically talking about those things —
VAN SUSTEREN: Even from what you
BLAGOJEVICH: I feel like if I start
going into substance of conversations it is a slippery slope and I might
inadvertently cross the line.
VAN SUSTEREN: What is the line? What
does the gag order say you can and can’t do?
BLAGOJEVICH: Again, the evidence that
we have access to that we had the chance to review, the taped
VAN SUSTEREN: That’s out, you can’t
talk about the content of those.
BLAGOJEVICH: The FBI interviews. The
statements of potential witnesses, all those things are not something
that would be appropriate for me to comment on.
Let me also say in the case of President Obama and me,
and again, let me be very clear, I know absolutely no wrongdoing that
the president was involved in. And I know I was involved in no
wrongdoing. But there is a common political support of ours named Tony
Rezko who is relevant to both me and President Obama.
Again he wrote a letter to a federal sentencing judge —
VAN SUSTEREN: Is Rezko helpful to you
at your June 3rd trial?
BLAGOJEVICH: I can’t comment about the
specifics of the case.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is he on your witness
BLAGOJEVICH: I’ll leave that for the
lawyers to discuss.
VAN SUSTEREN: The president is not
going to appear on some wiretap?
BLAGOJEVICH: I’m telling you from my
reelection I don’t recall talking to President Obama during that period
on the telephone.