Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. testified Wednesday that he did not attempt to buy President Barack Obama’s Senate seat from former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Jackson was asked Wednesday at the former governor’s retrial whether he had offered to raise money in exchange for the seat. “No I did not,” he responded.
Fox Chicago reports that the defense questioned Jackson for 14 minutes, “in which time the somewhat nervous-sounding Jackson said ‘no sir’ and ‘absolutely not’ when asked if he mentioned fundraising or directed anyone to mention fundraising to Blagojevich in exchange for the senate seat.”
An affidavit detailing the alleged crimes of Blagojevich describes how a designee of “Candidate 5,” later revealed to be Jackson, offered to gather $1,500,000 for Blagojevich in exchange for the seat.
In a clandestinely recorded Dec. 4, 2008 phone conversation, Blagojevich said that Jackson was being considered for the appointment because “we were approached ‘pay to play’” by a Jackson associate, who said that the congressman would “you know, he’d raise me 500 grand.”
Blagojevich said that the congressman’s representative had offered to have another fundraiser rake in an added $1 million. “An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (Senate Candidate 5) a senator.”
In a second secretly recorded conversation on Dec. 4, Blagojevich said that “some of this stuffs gotta start happening now . . .right now.” The then-governor instructed the other caller to meet in-person with one of Jackson’s associates. “I would do it in person. I would not do it on the phone,” he said.
On Dec. 8, 2008, one day before Blagojevich’s arrest, Jackson personally met with the governor about the Senate seat.
Jackson has long maintained through his lawyer that he never authorized a designee to make the fundraising arrangements with Blagojevich.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also testified Wednesday. Emanuel crisply replied “no” when asked if he had been contacted directly by Blagojevich about trading a top federal appointment for the governor’s appointment of a desired placeholder to Obama’s seat.