Gov. Rod Blagojevich was just convicted on one count of lying to federal investigators, but the jury was hung on all the other 23 counts.
The government boldy accused Blago, among other schemes, of trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat formerly belonging to President Obama, but all they could nail him on is lying? This is how they once felonized and locked away Martha Stewart. It’s cheap. It’s easy. It’s low-hanging fruit.
There’s that old joke: How do you know when a politician is lying? His lips are moving. So the government caught Blago moving his lips? Really?
The government has vowed to retry Blago and his brother on the counts the jury couldn’t decide, so their troubles are hardly over, but I would chalk this one up as a victory for the Blago brothers and a huge defeat for the Feds.
It also begs a questions for anybody who gets a knock on the door from federal agents: Why would you talk to them?
The correct response is always: I’m sorry sir, love to help, but you are going to have to consult my attorney first.
When I dropped in on the last days of Blago’s trial, it was hard to find anyone observing the trial who thought the government’s case was a good one. One of the courtroom observers I interviewed was law student, Charlie Harms. His take was pretty much in line with my own. He just gave me this update via email:
“Looks like it ended up the way everybody predicted–guilty on Count 24 and a hung jury with regards to the rest.
“I’m a little disappointed that they were not able to come to a conclusion on the charges against Robert, as in my opinion he’s come across as a pretty good guy, but I guess if it’s a hung jury, they must have strong proponents on both sides. I feel bad for Robert, though; he is surely going to be broke after the retrial.
“In my opinion, this trial and investigation has just been a complete waste of money, and is going to continue being a waste of money. In six months time, after the retrial, we’ll just end up right back where we are today with a hung jury, as I do not believe any jury can come to a unanimous decision one way or the other. Rod Blagojevich may have been a money-hungry sleaze-bag, but in the end, he never actually profited from any of these so-called schemes, and I imagine it’s got to be pretty tough for a jury to put away a family man based solely on the complex mess of an argument the US Attorneys presented. If something is actually going to come from this, then the US Attorneys need to be a little less arrogant and get their act together when it comes time for the retrial. ”