FBI Agent Testifies About Rod Blagojevich's Politics and Fund Raising

As governor, Rod Blagojevich time and again would answer media questions about his fundraising activities by insisting he had erected a “firewall” to separate himself from the business of extracting cash from donors.

Today there's been testimony that he used the exact same language with the FBI.

Prosecutors have called yet another FBI special agent to the stand, Patrick Murphy, to relate details of an interview with Blagojevich on March 16, 2005 at the offices of Winston and Strawn, the Loop law firm then representing the governor.

Murphy said government agents wanted to make an audio recording of the meeting, but were rebuffed by a lawyer for Blagojevich. The session took place more than three years before Blagojevich’s arrest and just two years after he took office.

At the time, Murphy said, agents were already looking into questions of whether Blagojevich and associates were shaking down political donors who in exchange for contracts, jobs and appointments to state panels.

The prosecution has called FBI supervising agent Patrick Murphy, who is interviewing about statements Rod Blagojevich made in an FBI interview in March 2005.

The FBI was investigating claims that Blagojevich was engaging in pay-to-play politics, linking campaign contributions to state jobs, contracts and board appointments, Murphy said.

As Murphy said this, Rod stared down at his notebook, not looking up at all.

During that 2005 interview, held in the offices of Winston & Strawn, Blagojevich said he maintained a separation between politics and fund-raising.

FBI agent Patrick Murphy testified earlier that the cooperation of Joseph Cari -- who signed a plea deal with prosecutors -- helped spur the investigation of Rod Blagojevich and a May 2005 interview with the ex-governor.

Defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. now seizes on this topic, questioning Murphy about Cari's testimony to the FBI.

Cari spoke to federal agents on five or so occasions before the ex-governor was interviewed, Adam notes; in several of those talks, Cari failed to mention the much-publicized plane ride on which the ex-governor allegedly tried to wrangle the fund-raiser's help on his campaign.

Adam pushes Murphy for specifics on the FBI's 2005 interview with Blagojevich, questioning the agent's interpretations of what the then-governor said.

Until his trial started last month, Rod Blagojevich was seemingly all over the media -- hosting his own radio show, appearing on late-night TV, even authoring (sort of) his own tell-all book.

Now in cross-examining FBI Agent Patrick Murphy, Blagojevich lawyer Sam Adam Jr. is pressing the notion that his client hasn’t been given much of a chance to explain himself.

Murphy was part of a team of government agents who questioned Blagojevich for three hours on March 16, 2005, about his involvement, or lack thereof, in political fundraising.