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Tempers flare in Blago trial

The Associated Press. Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, arrives at federal court before taking the stand in his second corruption trial on May 26 in Chicago. Prosecutors began cross-examining Blagojevich on Thursday, setting a highly combative tone from the very first question.

The Associated Press. Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, arrives at federal court before taking the stand in his second corruption trial on May 26 in Chicago. Prosecutors began cross-examining Blagojevich on Thursday, setting a highly combative tone from the very first question.

CHICAGO -- The prosecution wasted no time grilling Rod Blagojevich as they began crossing examining the impeached Illinois governor Thursday at his corruption retrial, setting a highly combative tone from the very first question.

''Mr. Blagojevich, you are a convicted liar, correct?'' asked governor attorney Reid Schar, raising his voice as he hurled his first question at Blagojevich.

After the judge overruled a flurry for objections from the defense lawyers, Blagojevich answered, ''Yes.''

Within minutes, tempers on all sides flared, Blagojevich's lawyers repeatedly objecting and Schar angrily appealing for the judge to direct Blagojevich to answer the question.

His voice rising further, Schar -- dropping his normal reserve -- continued to hurl one question after another at Blagojevich, who tried to hold his ground and also sounded angry in response.

''Is it true that, as a politician, you not infrequently lied to the public?'' Schar asked.

''I try to be as truthful as possible,'' Blagojevich responded firmly.

Prosecutors likely relished the chance to confront Blagojevich. At his first trial last year -- in which he was convicted of lying to the FBI -- the ousted governor never took the stand and prosecutors never had a chance to cross-examine him.

During five days of questions from his own attorney, Blagojevich denied all the allegations against him, including that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat.

Earlier Thursday, Blagojevich insisted he wasn't asking for a Cabinet post in exchange for naming a preferred candidate to President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat, but said he kept broaching the subject because the quick dismissal of the idea of him in such a prestigious job was embarrassing.

He told jurors during his fifth day on the stand at his corruption retrial that his talk about the seat and the possibility of getting a Cabinet post was just ''manic brainstorming.'' But he said he understood right away it was pure fantasy and couldn't happen.

''It's like, if I could play center field for the Cubs, I would do that, too,'' he said.