Horse-trading is no crime, Blagojevich says

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Former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich on Friday accused prosecutors of trying to criminalize political horse-trading and said that he would not accept any plea deal.

And he said the lone juror who held out against convicting him on major corruption counts this week confirmed his faith in God.

“I’ve always had a deep and abiding faith in God,” he said on NBC’s “Today” show. “And when I look at that, it just confirms, ‘Praise God.’ And I certainly thank her for her good judgment.

“If we put on a defense, I think we probably would have been acquitted” on every count, he added.

A federal jury on Tuesday deadlocked on 23 corruption charges against Blagojevich and convicted him of just one count of lying to the FBI. Prosecutors have said they intend to retry him.

Jurors failed to convict the ex-governor of trying to sell for personal gain the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama on his election as president. The jurors voted 11-1 in favor of conviction.

Blagojevich continued to insist he had done nothing wrong, saying prosecutors had captured him on tape discussing only “possibilities” with lawyers and political advisors. “Political horse-trading … this is what they are trying to criminalize,” he said.

He accused prosecutors of hypocrisy, saying they frequently make deals with convicted felons. “The very thing they charge me with, they should charge themselves with,” he said.

He said political horse-trading was a necessity in American politics and asserted that a congressman who voted for President Obama’s healthcare package was rewarded by having his brother nominated to a federal judgeship.

Blagojevich, who appeared on TV’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” also said that if opportunities arose for another reality show, he would “certainly take a look at it,” saying the government’s case against him had squeezed him financially.

On the question of a plea deal, he said he continued to seek full vindication and would take the stand if necessary at a retrial. He said he didn’t testify in the just-completed trial, despite having promised to do so, because the prosecution had not proved its case.

He also again challenged prosecutors to release all of the transcripts of his conversations, asserting that they had released only 2% and that they were misleading.

Blagojevich said several times that the government had spent “tens of millions of dollars” in bringing him to trial.