Rod Blagojevich's Lawyers Question Former Deputy Governor Robert Greenlee
The Rod Blagojevich corruption trial has resumed this morning with what amounts to a nit-picky grammar lesson from one of his lawyers, Aaron Goldstein.
Former Deputy Gov. Robert Greenlee was on the stand last week when the trial recessed, and he returned today to face questions from Blagojevich’s lawyers.
During Greenlee’s testimony last week, prosecutors played a recording of a Nov. 12 2008, wiretap conversation between Greenlee and Blagojevich concerning a proposal to raise Medicaid reimbursement rates for pediatric care.
Prosecutors contend that Blagojevich first agreed to the increase and then tried to halt it until Patrick Magoon, the CEO of Children’s Memorial Hospital, agreed to donate to the governor’s campaign.
Like many of Rod Blagojevich’s top aides and advisers who have taken the stand, former Deputy Gov. Robert Greenlee earlier testified that Blagojevich often froze out people who didn’t agree with him. So, the best way to get along with the governor was to tell him what he wanted to hear, witnesses have said.
Under questioning today from Blagojevich’s lawyer, Aaron Goldstein, Greenlee said he was trying to placate the governor during wiretap conversations on which Blagojevich and his wife, Patti, fumed about negative coverage in the Chicago Tribune.
The afternoon session has started off with what amounts to a preview of the case that Rod Blagojevich’s defense will start presenting to the jury later this week.
Blagojevich’s attorney, Aaron Goldstein, asked Robert Greenlee, a lawyer, whether he told Blagojevich he was doing something wrong by trying to swap a U.S. Senate appointment for a job for himself.
Greenlee is heard on a number of wiretap calls in 2008 in which Blagojevich bounced ideas off him for trading the seat for a job as the head of a charitable foundation or in the cabinet of incoming President Barack Obama. Nowhere does Greenlee stop the conversation and tell the governor what he was doing was wrong.
That, according to Greenlee, was because he told the governor what he wanted to hear in order to make Blagojevich easier to work for.
As the cross-examination of Robert Greenlee continued, Blagojevich’s lawyer, Aaron Goldstein, spent some time reviewing one call from December 2008 that seems to fit with the former governor’s claim that he wanted to appoint Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan to the U.S. Senate in a political deal with her father.
Blagojevich had had conversations with Washington advisers about appointing U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., but claimed to Greenlee in a call that he was just floating that idea to get leaders of the Senate in Washington to back the Madigan idea.
Blagojevich told Greenlee not to disagree with him on Jackson in front of “national people” because he wanted a Jackson appointment to look real so leaders such as U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin might push Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan to accept a political deal. Blagojevich had the idea of appointing Lisa Madigan as a way to get her father to agree to legislation Blagojevich wanted to push through Springfield, such as a promise not to raise taxes and a health-care plan.
Judge Zagel has shot down a request by the defense to delve into the working relationship between former Deputy Gov. Bob Greenlee and former general counsel Bill Quinlan.
Greenlee had done contract legal work for Quinlan. The defense wanted to elicit this and draw the conclusion that Quinlan must have blessed Greenlee's conversations with Blagojevich because he hired him.
Jurors are looking at a transcript of a Nov. 12, 2008, conversation between Rod Blagojevich and Bob Greenlee while defense attorney Aaron Goldstein dissects the ex-governor's statements, word for word.
On the tape, Blago is asking his deputy governor about a proposed reimbursement rate increase for Children's Memorial Hospital. Blago asks Greenlee a question about the rate change: "Has that gone out yet, or is that still on hold?"
Goldstein: "There's something after the word 'hold.' What is that squiggly thing?"
Greenlee: "That is a question mark."
Goldstein: "Do you know what a question mark is?"
It was onetime Deputy Gov. Bob Greenlee who first raised the idea of trying to get the Chicago Tribune's editorial board fired in response to negative editorials about the governor and in exchange for a deal that would help the Tribune Co. financially.
Defense attorney Aaron Goldstein questions Greenlee about a taped exchange from Nov. 3, 2008. Greenlee, Blago and Patti are talking about a Chicago Tribune editorial that called for the ex-governor's impeachment. It's also the infamous tape where Patti rants about the "f---ing Cubs."
In one conversation, Greenlee, who's in his mid-30s, is asked about his response to Blagojevich in a taped phone call about the then-governor's wishes to ask the Barack Obama camp to help set up a foundation that Blagojevich would one day lead. The foundation was to be in exchange for Blagojevich appointing Valerie Jarrett to the U.S. Senate seat.
"Did you communicate your disagreement to having a foundation set up for the Senate seat?" Goldstein asked.
Greenlee doesn't get a chance to answer. But in the recording, Greenlee is not heard objecting.