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Blagojevich continues media tour as trial proceeds

  • Story Highlights
  • State senators heard recorded phone calls about horse-racing legislation
  • Governor absent from trial, holding interviews with media outlets
  • Senators also heard testimony from FBI agent who wrote affidavit
  • U.S. attorney has asked both sides to "defer to criminal prosecution"
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(CNN) -- Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was absent again Tuesday from his Senate impeachment trial, but state senators who will decide whether to remove him from office heard him loud and clear on FBI recordings of his phone calls.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich talks to CNN's Campbell Brown Tuesday night about his impeachment trial.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich talks to CNN's Campbell Brown Tuesday night about his impeachment trial.

Only four snippets of conversations were played for senators in the second day of the impeachment trial, and all pertained to horse-racing legislation.

Prosecutors said the brief recordings focused on the governor's efforts to apparently raise campaign contributions in exchange for signing a horse-racing bill.

In one recording from December 3, a lobbyist assures the governor that a race-track owner has pledged his "commitment."

"He goes, 'I hope I'm gonna have it next week, but you have my commitment. I've always been there. I'm gonna be there,' " the lobbyist told Blagojevich of the race track owner.

None of the recordings mentions money specifically.

Meanwhile, Blagojevich continued an ambitious media blitz, appearing in interviews with CBS, CNN, Fox and The Associated Press. A day earlier, he appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live," ABC's "Good Morning America" and "The View." Video Watch Blagojevich on "Larry King Live" »

"I hate all of this," Blagojevich told CNN's Campbell Brown in an interview Tuesday. "This is a life-changing thing. I am about to be thrown out of office for accusations that are false and not true." Video Watch Brown interview Blagojevich »

He added, "But there's principles involved. And that is I did nothing wrong and I'd like an opportunity to prove it."

The governor has railed against state Senate rules that restrict the calling of some witnesses and the presentation of some evidence.

State Sen. Matt Murphy, part of the nine-member committee that put the Senate trial rules together, has said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald asked both sides to "defer to the criminal prosecution" of Blagojevich and "limit witnesses." The House prosecution in the Senate trial is operating under the same restrictions, he said.

Senators also heard testimony Tuesday from FBI Special Agent Daniel Cain, author of a 76-page affidavit released in December, when the governor was arrested on federal corruption charges. Video Watch proceedings from Tuesday's trial »

Among other allegations, federal prosecutors said the governor tried to trade or sell the Senate seat that would become vacant after Barack Obama became president.

Cain testified about transcripts of federal tapes in the affidavit, mostly replying in the affirmative when House prosecutor David Ellis asked whether the portions of the affidavit were accurate.

"In the end, we were very confident that it was the governor's voice in those conversations," Cain told House prosecutor David Ellis.

Cain said FBI agents repeatedly listened to the governor's recorded conversations to make sure they were accurate. "Agents would listen to the recordings repeatedly as many times as necessary to verify the accuracy and quote," he said.

Later, as senators tried to ask Cain about the recordings, a representative from the U.S. attorney's office was on hand to block some answers.

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After Blagojevich's arrest, the state House impeached the two-term Democratic governor in two votes, with only one dissenting vote each time. The second vote was needed because of the seating of a new House.

Blagojevich has said the House impeachment vote was politically motivated.

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