- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 7, 2011

CHICAGO (AP) — Former Illinois Gov. RodBlagojevich offered more short answers Tuesday in his seventh day of testimony at his corruption retrial, seeming to heed repeated requests from the judge and prosecutors to stop giving chatty answers to “yes or no” questions.

After beginning with a bang last week, the cross-examination of the ousted governor had a few more fireworks before ending at midday. Prosecutors began the day by hammering at Blagojevich about his alleged attempts to shake down road-building executive Gerald Krozel for campaign cash.

Prosecutors also questioned Blagojevich about an offer of campaign cash in exchange for naming Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Obama. Blagojevich called that illegal but wouldn’t call it a “bribe.”

Under questioning from his own lawyer, Blagojevich denied that he ever tried to squeeze Mr. Krozel for cash. Prosecutor Reid Schar walked Blagojevich through his testimony on cross-examination, coming back to the fact that he met with Mr. Krozel about raising money at the same time as a billion-dollar highway program was being announced.

Mr. Krozel estified earlier for the government that Blagojevich pressured him by dangling the possibility that he might launch an even larger highway program urgently needed by the ailing industry. Mr. Krozel said Blagojevich made it clear the larger program was contingent on the donation.

“You did want Mr. Krozel to help you raise campaign funds?” Mr. Schar asked.

“Yes, I did,” Blagojevich responded.

“That was money for your campaign fund, Friends of Blagojevich?”

“Yes, yes,” came the response.

In past days, Blagojevich has been chastised by Judge James Zagel for giving longer-than-necessary answers.

Not that he stopped rambling entirely. At one point, Blagojevich asked Mr. Schar to repeat his question because his explanation was so long he forgot what the question was. And Mr. Schar often asked the same question several times as he tried to get Blagojevich to say “yes” or “no.”

Federal prosecutors have been trying to discredit the ousted Illinois governor’s firm denials that he ever tried to shake anyone down or sought to sell or trade an appointment to Mr. Obama’s vacated Senate seat.

Jackson supporters had offered to raise $1.5 million in campaign funds for Blagojevich if he named Mr. Jackson to the Senate.

Blagojevich says he never considered the offer. When Mr. Schar asked if he considered the money a bribe, Blagojevich wouldn’t agree but repeatedly insisted it was “illegal.”

Mr. Jackson isn’t accused of any wrongdoing.

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