What’s the real meaning behind Blago’s extended hand? 

Was Rod Blagojevich just being friendly and conciliatory when he attempted to shake hands with Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar, the same federal prosecutor who had just grilled him on the witness stand about his timing for allegedly trying to sell Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat?

Or was the mop-haired, impeached former governor of Illinois doing the equivalent of a victory dance in the end zone?

Presiding Judge James Zagel quickly “instructed the jury that the lawyers are not allowed to have contact with witnesses and sent the jury home for the day,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Blago Blog.

Too late, however, to prevent them from observing the defendant’s seemingly strange behavior.

Perhaps Blago was in such a forgiving mood because government wiretaps – which were not played during his first trial - seemed to indicate that the former governor was in no rush to name Obama’s Senate replacement:

At one point, Blagojevich said he was contemplating waiting on an announcement until after convicted Blagojevich fundraiser and influence peddler Tony Rezko was expected to be sentenced in January 2009. Doing so, Blagojevich said, could give him a ‘clean bill of health’ within the political world and enable him to press forward with his intended push for Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

But if U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald already knew that, why the “stunning, early morning arrest” of Blago, as described by the Chicago Tribune, which admitted sitting on the story of the undercover investigation for weeks at Fitzgerald’s request and then suddenly reporting it after alerting Blago he was under surveillance. If Fitzgerald already knew no Senate appointment was imminent, why did he arrest Blago before any money or favors he allegedly demanded for the seat could be exchanged?

And how does Fitzgerald explain his own comment at his Dec. 9, 2008 press conference - when he said that “We acted to stop that crime spree” – when he already knew that Blago was not going to make his move until the following month?

Playing the tape in front of jurors may have actually given Blago a get-out-of-jail card, according to one veteran Chicago criminal attorney I spoke with: “In conspiracy law, backing out is a defense. If you have no knowledge you're being wiretapped, change your mind and withdraw from the crime, the government has no case.”

Maybe Blago extended his hand to thank Schar for saving his butt.

Pin It
Favorite

More by Barbara Hollingsworth

Latest in Nation

© 2018 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation