Rod Blagojevich issues challenge to US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald

I challenge Mr. Fitzgerald. Why don't you show up in court tomorrow and explain to everybody, say to the whole world why you don't want those tapes that you made played in court? I'll be in court tomorrow. I hope you're man enough to be there tomorrow too.”

— Rod Blagojevich

They're now hitting below the belt and attacking my wife. They are cowards, and they are liars. Patti is a devoted mother. She's a loving wife. She's a licensed professional.”

— Rod Blagojevich

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich strutted up to a bank of microphones outside his lawyers' offices in jeans, a blazer and television makeup Tuesday and all but challenged U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to a duel at 10 paces.

Fitzgerald lied about him engaging in a crime spree, Blagojevich steamed, promising to appear in federal court Wednesday at high noon to push a renewed defense bid to play every tape secretly made of his conversations during the corruption investigation of his administration.

"I challenge Mr. Fitzgerald. Why don't you show up in court tomorrow and explain to everybody, say to the whole world why you don't want those tapes that you made played in court?" Blagojevich said. "I'll be in court tomorrow. I hope you're man enough to be there tomorrow too."

It's unclear how the tactic will play out in court just six weeks before Blagojevich's trial is set to begin, but as an exercise in media manipulation, it worked spectacularly. Nearly a dozen news cameras were on hand to hear Blagojevich lay on the mustard, and several TV stations aired the remarks — scheduled for precisely 5:03 p.m. for their benefit — live on their evening newscasts.

He spoke for just two minutes, then took no questions.

All he was missing was a six-shooter and a 10-gallon hat.
» Click to enlarge image
Rod Blagojevich arrives to cheers and hugs at the Dirksen Federal Building.
(John H. White/Sun-Times)

RELATED STORIES
NBCChicago.com video: Blago says prosecutors lied

In a two-minute, blustery address, a finger-waving former Gov. Rod Blagojevich summoned U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to show up in the federal courthouse today at high noon.

"I challenge Mr. Fitzgerald. Why don't you show up in court [Wednesday] and explain to everybody, say to the whole world, why you don't want those tapes that you made played in court," Blagojevich said at a news conference. "I'll be in court tomorrow, I hope you're man enough to be there tomorrow, too."

Blagojevich accused the government of trying to sneak into court to try to block the ex-governor from playing all the recordings in trial. There is a previously scheduled court status date in Blagojevich's case at noon today and the prosecutors trying the case -- not Fitzgerald -- are expected to show.