Updated 04/13/11 – 5:32 p.m.
CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) – A week before his retrial on federal corruption charges was set to begin, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich lashed out at federal prosecutors again for not playing all the tapes of FBI wiretaps of his conversations.
It’s a line Blagojevich has repeated many times in public: that he would be exonerated if prosecutors played every secretly recorded conversation they have in their possession.
“They took snippets, selected snippets of conversations out of context to distort the truth, to pervert the truth and to twist what was actually happening,” a defiant Blagojevich said outside his Ravenswood home on Wednesday. “From the beginning, I said play all the tapes.”
“I’m innocent. I’ve said repeatedly and I’ve quoted the Bible. The truth will set me free,” Blagojevich added. “I believe that, in fact I know that.”
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Prosecutors have filed a motion seeking to prevent Blagojevich’s attorneys from arguing to the jury that playing all the tapes would prove his innocence. They want the judge to bar defense attorneys from questioning witnesses about the content of tapes that are not allowed into evidence.
“Not only do questions designed to elicit such evidence serve no legitimate purpose, they focus the jurors’ attention on evidence that is not before them, and act as a suggestion that other evidence, favorable to the defense, is being withheld from them.” prosecutors wrote in their motion.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel ruled before the former governor’s first trial that neither side could suggest there was evidence that jurors were not allowed to hear, noting that either side could play tapes that he ruled would be pertinent to the case.
Blagojevich angrily blasted the prosecution’s motion on Wednesday.
“It is not the job of a prosecutor to win at all costs. It is not the job of a prosecutor to railroad an innocent man. It is the job and duty of a prosecutor to do justice,” Blagojevich said. “You don’t find the truth by blocking the truth. You don’t find the truth by objecting the truth, you don’t find the truth by preventing lawyers from asking questions of witnesses that would get to the truth. That is not justice, that is injustice.”
His first trial ended with conviction on only the lightest charge of lying to the FBI. The jury remained deadlocked on 23 other counts against him. Since then, prosecutors have dropped three counts against him to simplify the case.
Among other charges, Blagojevich is accused of trying to sell or trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama in 2008.
Blagojevich’s comments came one day after attorneys for the Chicago Tribune filed a motion asking the judge in Blagojevich’s case to release a series of filings that prosecutors and defense attorneys have filed under seal in the past two months.
Both sides have filed more than a dozen sealed motions or sealed responses to motions since late February. They’ve also filed many motions that aren’t sealed.
The Tribune’s motion says both sides have “indiscriminately filed documents wholly under seal, without overcoming the strong presumption of public access.” It says there has been no attempt to file redacted versions of those documents to allow for public access to the filings.
Zagel could rule on the matter as soon as Thursday, when a status hearing has been scheduled for the Blagojevich case.
–Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago Web Producer