CHICAGO – and which they say explain some of the evidence.
But attorneys for the ousted Illinois governor struggled at a three-hour hearing before a skeptical Judge James B. Zagel, who said he didn't want jurors hearing any of the tapes unless they were relevant and could be relied on to provide facts and not mere rhetoric.
"He was basically a professional politician chattering — that's really not relevant," Zagel said in ruling out one tape on which Blagojevich is heard talking with an adviser.
The lawyers said they wanted to play 38 tapes that would show Blagojevich in a more positive light than the ones prosecutors already played for the jury. They said prosecutors have tentatively agreed to let them play 10. And after hearing their pitch for the others that prosecutors had objected to, Zagel gave them permission to play two more.
"We would like to play all the tapes," said Aaron Goldstein, the Blagojevich lawyer who did the bulk of the work of the sales job. The hearing continues Thursday.
Blagojevich's lawyers had also offered a tape of the then-governor discussing his idea — never acted on — in which he would appoint to Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat to the newly elected president's friend, Valerie Jarrett, in return for $5 billion in aid to Illinois.
Zagel immediately questioned if that was legal, brushing aside any suggestion that Blagojevich's aides were lawyers themselves and might have objected if it were not.
"If you are having a conversation with several lawyer friends, and you say, 'I'm thinking of murdering my wife,' and they don't say anything, can you infer from that that they think it's all right?" Zagel said. He ruled out the tape.
Blagojevich's defense team has previously said it will argue that he acted based on guidance from advisers.
The former governor, 53, has pleaded not guilty to scheming to sell or trade Obama's old Senate seat and plotting to launch a racketeering operation in the governor's office.
His brother, Robert Blagojevich, 54, a Nashville, Tenn., businessman, has pleaded not guilty to taking part in the alleged scheme to sell the seat and plotting to shake down businessmen for hefty campaign contributions.
Robert Blagojevich's attorneys, Michael Ettinger and Cheryl Ann Schroeder, said they will probably replay some or all of 10 tapes the jurors already have heard and that they also have received permission to play four thus far unheard tapes and part of a fifth.
Ettinger said he was pleased with the outcome of the hearing and negotiations with the government that will allow him to play the tape he most wanted jurors to hear. But he declined to say what is on the tape, noting that it will remain under seal until it is played at the trial.
The jury has been given a break until Monday, at least in part to allow defense attorneys to round up witnesses. The prosecution rested its case on Tuesday, sooner than had been expected, and defense attorneys say not all their witnesses were immediately available.