Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich testified during his corruption trial today that he offered a vacant Senate seat in exchange for a rival lawmaker's cooperation on legislation Blagojevich coveted.
Blagojevich told prosecutors that his seeming move towards appointing Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-IL) to President Barack Obama's former Senate seat was a diversion to cloak his true aim: giving the seat to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan if could exact political favors from her father, Illinois House of Representatives speaker Michael Madigan.
During questioning, Blagojevich admitted to bolstering the Jackson deception by fabricating a meeting with Jackson to a columnist with The Chicago Sun-Times. It was the type of chicanery prosecuting attorney Reid Schar had in mind with his first question: You are a convicted liar, correct?
Blagojevich answered simply, Yes.
Later, when Schar pressed Blagojevich on whether he had knowingly lied to the public, the ex-governor said that, I try to be as truthful as possible, but politics is a difficult business, adding, it's not all one thing or all the other.
The trial centers on how Blagojevich sought to exploit the open Senate seat to its fullest advantage, and FBI wiretaps gathered evidence of his scheming. One of his ideas was to appoint himself to the seat, which would have enabled him to personally hunt down Osama Bin Laden.
He is being tried again on 20 counts, including attempted extortion and bribery. An attempt to convict him last summer resulted in a his conviction on only one of 24 counts: lying to federal agents about misusing campaign contributions.