- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 22, 2010

Former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich said Sunday that he would not rule out a return to politics and that testimony from top national Democrats will clear his name if he is retried on corruption charges.

Blagojevich said his defense team would seek testimony from many of the people he talked to about filling the Senate seat vacated by President Obama, including White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, U.S. Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. of Illinois, Democratic Senate Campaign Committee Chairman Robert C. Menendez of New Jersey, and a “host of other leading Democrats.”

“If we put on a defense and properly explain these things, the jury will see it’s exactly about what it is, political horse-trading,” Blagojevich said. Those other named Democrats “did nothing wrong either.”

Blagojevich said that his legal team was prepared to call top national Democrats in his first trial, but decided against it because of the government’s “flimsy case.” The team also tried unsuccessfully to force Mr. Obama to testify.

“The government failed to prove any corruption,” Blagojevich said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Now I’m ready for round two.”

The comments came less than a week after Blagojevich was convicted of only one of the 24 federal corruption counts he faced: making false statements to the FBI. The count carries up to five years in prison. One juror blocked at least 21 more convictions, including the most-sensational accusation - that he tried to sell Mr. Obama’s old Senate seat.

Federal prosecutors plan to retry Blagojevich, and their plans will start to take shape at a hearing Thursday.

The prospect of a second trial is seen by some as bad news for Democrats running for Congress and in gubernatorial elections across the country where they are already facing a tough political climate.

Fresh from a morning appearance at a comic book convention where the ousted governor signed $50 autographs and $80 pictures, Blagojevich said that he is still interested in returning to politics.

“[I]f you’re asking me, do I believe there is a potential political comeback in the future? When I’m vindicated in this case, absolutely I do,” Blagojevich said. “Because people will see that I was willing all by myself almost … to fight the power of the federal government and correct this imbalance. There is something very dangerous in America today where you can have prosecutors with that power.”