Prosecution Cross-Examines Rob Blagojevich in Rod Blagojevich Trial

Assistant U.S. Atty. Christopher Niewoehner started his cross-examination of Robert Blagojevich late this afternoon by asking about his time in the U.S. Army with a military police unit and posing a hypothetical question: Would it be fair for a commanding officer in the military to stop an investigation in order to get a friend a job?

Blagojevich said that wouldn’t be fair.
Niewoehner then asked whether that wasn’t exactly what Robert posed on Nov. 5, 2008, when he was recorded telling his brother that maybe Barack Obama could help the governor get out from under the cloud of the federal investigation targeting him.

"If you can get Obama to get (U.S. Attorney Patrick) Fitzgerald to close the case on you, it provides you total clarity," Robert says on that tape. He is heard urging his brother to "horse-trade" with Barack Obama to get the feds to stop investigating him.

Niewoehner: "That's what you wanted to have happen?"
Robert: "As a brother, of course I did."
Niewoehner asks if he wanted that in exchange for Rod appointing Valerie Jarrett to the Senate. Robert forcefully says no.
Niewoehner: "Barack Obama was just going to do that for nothing?"

The prosecutor then runs down a list of not-so-hypothetical hypothetical situations.

Niewoehner: "You know it'd be wrong for your brother to ask for cash for his family in exchange for some political action?"
Robert: "Yes."
Niewoehner: "You know it'd be wrong for your brother to take some governmental action in exchange for somebody else taking millions of dollars and putting it into some organization your brother controls?"
Robert: "If he directly agreed to that? Yes, that would be improper."
Niewoehner: "Whether it's a campaign contribution or cash, that doesn't matter, does it?"
Robert: "Not in my mind."