Gov. Rod Blagojevich's chief defense attorney announced Friday that he is bailing out of the fraud and bribery case against the governor, strongly hinting that his embattled client refused to listen to his advice.
"I never require a client to do what I say, but I do require them to at least listen," Edward Genson said. "I intend to withdraw as counsel in this case."
Genson, who won renown in defending R&B star R. Kelly and former newspaper baron Conrad Black, dropped his bombshell announcement after a U.S. District Court hearing during which Chief Judge James F. Holderman released four wiretapped recordings of Blagojevich and his associates to the Illinois House impeachment committee.
Blagojevich, facing charges of fraud conspiracy and solicitation of bribery, was impeached by the Illinois House earlier this month and today faces trial in the Senate.
The governor held a news conference Friday afternoon and complained that the impeachment trial was unfair and indicated he would not attend.
In recent days, Genson has seemed to be on a separate wavelength from both his client and two other defense attorneys on the case. The legal team sent mixed signals to the media regarding whether the governor planned a lawsuit challenging Senate trial rules.
Attorney Samuel E. Adam told The Associated Press on Thursday that a lawsuit was being prepared and could be filed with the Illinois Supreme Court within days. Genson told the AP that afternoon that he did not know whether Blagojevich would file a lawsuit to block the trial.
"His action, what he's doing, isn't controlled by me," Genson said. "I'm not privy to it. I should be, but I'm not."
Blagojevich is charged in a criminal complaint with, among other things, plotting to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama. The governor has the power to fill the vacant seat and after his arrest Blagojevich picked former state Attorney General Roland Burris.
The criminal complaint unsealed after Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 also accuses him of using the power of his office to squeeze campaign contributions and payoffs from companies and individuals doing business with the state.
He also is charged with scheming to use state aid to the Chicago Tribune in the proposed sale of Wrigley Field to force the firing of editorial writers who called for his impeachment.
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