CHICAGO – Two portraits of Illinois’ disgraced former governor emerged Tuesday from his corruption trial: An insecure bumbler who talked too much and a greedy, smart political schemer determined to use his power to enrich himself.
The contrasting images were offered by a prosecutor and a defense attorney as they finished closing arguments and prepared to hand the case over to the jury, which was scheduled to begin deliberating Rod Blagojevich’s fate today after hearing seven weeks of evidence.
Defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. described his client as naive and a poor judge of character – but not a criminal. He dismissed prosecution claims that Blagojevich tried to sell or trade the nomination to Barack Obama’s former Senate seat.
“You heard the tapes, and you heard Rod on the tapes,” he said. “You can infer what was in Rod’s mind on the tapes. You can infer from those tapes whether he’s trying to extort the president of the United States. We heard tape after tape of just talking.”
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar took those same words and told the jury to listen to both what the governor said and what he didn’t say. Blagojevich, he insisted, knew how to ask for a bribe in a way that the person on the other end of the phone understood exactly.
“He knows how to communicate, that is what he does for a living,” Schar said. “He’s good at it.”