Judge Cautions Blagojevich About Media Interviews

Updated 04/18/11 – 1:44 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Federal prosecutors accused Rod Blagojevich of “out-and-out fabrications” in recent media interviews, prompting the judge to advise the former governor “to restrain himself.”

During a hearing on Monday, prosecutors voiced their anger at statements that Blagojevich has made in the past several days about his upcoming trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar accused Blagojevich of “out-and-out fabrications” and “lies that he continues to perpetrate” in his TV and radio appearances.

Blagojevich has repeatedly accused prosecutors of trying to prevent him from defending himself and blocking him from playing tapes of secretly recorded conversations that he claims would exonerate him.

Schar contended that Blagojevich has falsely suggested that prosecutors have discretion as to which tapes that were taken from FBI wiretaps against Blagojevich will be allowed into evidence, and which ones will not. Prosecutors noted that the judge in Blagojevich’s case is the only person who can decide what evidence is admitted at trial.

Blagojevich defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky said he hadn’t seen the latest interview Blagojevich did, and tried to defend the ex-governor by saying Blagojevich was paraphrasing what he understood the rules to be, and “perhaps he misspoke.”

But the normally subdued Schar interrupted Sorosky, angrily contending that Blagojevich is just trying to manipulate the potential jury pool.

“These are his talking points … this is not a mistake,” Schar said. He noted that, during the first trial last summer, U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel specifically told Blagojevich in open court that he, not prosecutors, decide what tapes are admissible.

“This is just part of an attempt by [Blagojevich] to poison what’s going on,” Schar said. “At a certain point, enough is enough. If he continues to lie, he ought to be called out on it.”

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s John Cody reports

Zagel said “it would be distressing” if the governor were making statements about the trial that he knows are untrue.

“You can consider my remarks today as a red flag,” Zagel said.

He also suggested to Blagojevich’s attorneys that the former governor should watch what he says in media interviews, stopping just short of telling Blagojevich to stop such appearances altogether.

“I think under the circumstances, it would be wise for the defendant to restrain himself,” Zagel said.

The judge explained that by continuing such appearances, Blagojevich “could, if he has not already done so, step over the line.”

He also reiterated that he is the only person who decides what evidence attorneys are allowed to present.

“It is not the government that decides what is admitted, it is I,” Zagel said.

Zagel said the governor risks opening the door for prosecutors using his own media interviews against him at trial, as his statements outside of court “may be inconsistent with the defense in court.”

He also suggested that, if Blagojevich continues to make false statements about the case in public, he might allow prosecutors to use those statements against him in court.

Blagojevich’s attorneys declined to discuss the issue after court on Monday.

The former governor is scheduled to be retried on federal corruption charges beginning this week, with the first stage of jury selection slated for Wednesday.

He is charged, among other offenses, with trying to sell or trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama in 2008.

Blagojevich’s first trial last summer ended in the jury deadlocking on all but one of 24 counts against him. Prosecutors have since dropped three other charges in an effort to simplify a case that jurors said they found confusing.

CBS 2 Web Producer Todd Feurer contributed to this report.

  • Ralph S.

    With a 98% conviction rate, it’s clear that federal prosecutors make the decisions and control the courtroom, not the judges. Federal judges have been reduced to being prosecutorial stooges. If a judge doesn’t obey the whims of the prosecutor, he’ll find himself being charged with tax evasion or some other contrived charge. The federal judiciary has been totally compromised and the courts have been reduced to tools to be used against those who oppose the government agenda.

    Now the prosecutor doesn’t want the former governor to talk to the media. The felon totally controls what happens inside of the court and now he wants to control what happens outside of the court. Of course we know that the black-robed prosecutorial stooge will comply with his boss’s wishes and order Blogojevich to remain silent. It doesn’t matter that Blogejovich has the right to speak to the public to inform us of his side of the story. What matters is that the prosecutor gets the conviction and the truth can’t be allowed to get out.

  • jesse jr.

    Why are they spending TAX PAYER $$$$ ON THIS?

    • Steve Plopper

      The majority of Chicagoians want him behind bars. Is that too hard for YOU to understand, Jesse Jr?

  • JIm

    You oviously have a deep issue with our government and judicial system. Giving no regard to the fact that the same people Blago is reaching out to with his own version of things are the same people that will be picked as jurours. They deserve facts and proof not bias from either side. With all those big words I would expect a little more common sense

    • r

      You’ve used a disinformation tactic called motive displacement. You displace the argument from the issues which I mentioned by calling into question my motives for saying them. To avoid disproving what I said, which you can’t do because it’s true, you say something like, ‘You have deep issues with government; therefore, what you said is invalid’.

      Stop using such dishonest tactics and engage in honest exchange.

      Prosecutorial and judicial eliteism is a common theme among the criminals who runs the courts. They claim that the people can’t be allowed to hear information about a case outside of the courtroom, because it might taint their objectivity. Yet these same judges and prosecutors claim that knowing all of the facts doesn’t affect their objectivity. Nonsense. As a good citizen, I don’t want the prosecutors and judges controlling the outflow of information. Considering that the Supreme court has just ruled that it’s OK for prosecutors to lie in order to obtain convictions, mine is a reasonable position.

      Citizens can judge the open facts with the same amount of objectivity and discernment as judges. Judging from the absolute corruption in the court system, it’s a sure bet that citizens can judge the facts with objectivity that’s far superiror to anything the black-robed felons can muster.

      That’s common sense. I hope I didn’t use too many big words for you.


    Why is the media even giving this looney toon squirrel air time!!! He is just as guilty as the former one was. Put him behind bars so we do not have to listen to his motor mouth. Go prosecution.

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