Federal prosecutors responded to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's motion to play "missing" taped conversations in court, saying the move is irrelevant at best since the court is already aware of all the tapes and has ruled on which are admissible in court.
"The instant motion offers no new argument or legal theory for the admission of the recordings on which the Court previously ruled," the government says in a court document filed late Monday. "It is unclear what purpose the defendant's instant motion serves, other than to potentially influence prospective jurors."
Blagojevich's defense team has been attempting to show that federal prosecutors built their corruption case against him by selectively releasing wiretap recordings of his wheeling and dealing, while omitting from the records the tapes that would exonerate him. The defense filed a motion earlier Monday in which the team argued several "missing" tapes that had been previously undisclosed should be admitted because they "establish the evolution of Blagojevich's thought process" and "prove his innocent intent."
Blagojevich was convicted on just one of 24 corruption charges against him last fall, but prosecutors have vowed to retry him, with court dates set for April. But with the initial case came the damaging release of Blagojevich's phone conversations during the turbulent period that followed Obama's presidential win. In one conversation played by the government, Blagojevich could be heard describing the senate seat as a "valuable thing," and, "if I don't get what I want and I'm not satisfied with it, then I'll just take the Senate seat myself."
But in the court filing Monday, Blagojevich's legal team contends that there are many more recordings that help shed more light on what the then-governor was trying to accomplish. It also says the ability to play the additional segments of the federal government's recordings would help prove there is a "missing" recording, from a Dec. 8, 2008 call. The request for that tape prompted a separate filing last week, asking for records from a phone call between a Blagojevich aide and Rahm Emanuel, then the White House chief of staff.
The former governor alleges that Emanuel, who is now running for mayor in Chicago, had offered to help broker a deal to give Madigan the seat and secure passage of a legislative package for Blagojevich.
The government said the tapes the defense is referring to were already considered by the court during the first trial and that ruling carries over to the second.
"Rather than supplying a basis (new or otherwise) for admitting these calls... the defendant simply states that the recordings demonstrate the defendant's 'state of mind as he contemplated a decision on whom to appoint to the Senate seat,'" the government's filing says. "Not only is this argument simply a repeat of the argument the court rejected during the first trial, it does not come close to providing a justification for admission."
While campaigning last week, Emanuel downplayed the defense's court filing, noting that an internal look into the matter by the administration found "nothing inappropriate or any deal making."