Blagojevich Attorneys Want Wiretap Evidence Tossed

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.)

  • Paul

    Certainly the feds would never slant evidence for a convition. They announced investigative evidence in a press confrence. The US Attorney has his career on the line and would never announce to the public secret evidence that might sway public opinion against the accused.

    After the press conviction what public official would vote against impeachment?

    What if the evidence is tailored to keep parts out that could discredit the rest of the evidence? There is too much pressure on this case to allow an innocent verdict.

    Can you imagine what the public will have to say about a jury that brings in a verdict of innocent?

    Innocent is not what this is about.

    The verdict is not material. Punishment of this defendant is what this is about and most of the people want him punished. The US Attorney needs him hung and jailed.

    Judges shape guilt by shaping what is allowed in or out. To hear all of the tapes was not allowed because a jury may have had reasonable doubt if they heard all of the evidence. How dare the defendant point this out.

    Hang him high!!

    • KE

      Really Paul — do you know Rod?
      If you did, you would probably change your tune.

      IMHO — Rod needs to spend time behind bars for ooohhh so many reasons — kinda like John Burge.

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