Chicago As Rod Blagojevich’s attorneys prepare to make their last pitch to jurors, their closing arguments may come down to this: The former Illinois governor wasn’t capable of doing anything but talk. And talk.
In the words of Blagojevich himself, he may have proposed some “stupid” ideas that were secretly recorded by the FBI, but nowhere is there any evidence he took a single “corrupt penny.”
That leaves prosecutors with the challenge of persuading the jury that, as ineffective as he might have seemed, Blagojevich wasn’t just talking. He was conspiring. And conspiracy is a crime.
None other than U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel alluded to the question Thursday when he tried to summarize the arguments that jurors will likely hear from both sides on Monday.
The tapes “really have a lot of talk that seems like blowing off steam ... as opposed to doing,” the judge said at a hearing where he refused to dismiss the charges.
But if Zagel suggested that Blagojevich was “desperate” and perhaps delusional, the judge also made it clear that the defendant’s lack of success in obtaining money or a new job may not matter.
“Conspiracy is a crime that involves people talking to each other,” he said. “You can have a conspiracy entered into by fools and bumblers ... and it’s still a conspiracy.”