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Blagojevich Attorneys Want Wiretap Evidence Tossed

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Rod Blagojevich

Rod Blagojevich (credit: John Gress/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Attorneys for deposed Gov. Rod Blagojevich will ask a judge on Monday to toss out FBI wiretap evidence in the governor’s retrial, including the most infamous wiretap of all.

The motion argues that Judge James Zagel should throw out the hundreds of recordings of Blagojevich — made in the days before his Dec. 9, 2008, arrest — because many contain gaps where vital context needed to understand the taped conversations may be missing. The 54-year-old Blagojevich faces an April 20 retrial on 23 charges, including that he tried to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel reports

Monday’s motion cites the best-known secret recording of Blagojevich in which he is heard saying about the seat: “I’ve got this thing and it’s f***ing golden. … I’m just not giving it up for f***ing nothing.”

The motion clams three gaps totaling four minutes in that one call raise sufficient doubts, though the defense did not offer an alternative interpretation for what Blagojevich might have meant.

Federal agents secretly monitoring wiretapped phones are required to limit what they record to conversations pertinent to an investigation. That can lead them to frequently switch recording devices on and off, a process called “minimization.”

Blagojevich’s attorneys, however, argue that the “pattern of inconsistent and improper minimizations” in the hundreds of recordings in the investigation of the impeached governor justify tossing them all out as evidence.

The six-page motion filed electronically overnight with the U.S. District Court in Chicago indicates that the defense also submitted 32 additional pages of sealed documents. The judge has prohibited attorneys from revealing details of recordings that were not admitted into evidence during the first trial in August, which ended with jurors deadlocked on 23 of 24 charges, forcing a second trial.

This is the latest of several motions filed by the Blagojevich defense team. Others have sought to lift a seal on some evidence and play around 100 excerpts of secret FBI tapes at trial.

Blagojevich will face a retrial in April on 23 charges, including allegations he sought to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat. At his first trial, jurors deadlocked on all but one count of lying to the FBI.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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