Blagojevich Retrial Gets Going
The corruption retrial of impeached Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, got going this morning when the government called its first witnesses, an FBI agent and the disgraced politician’s former chief of staff.Blagojevich faces 20 charges, among them attempting to sell the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barak Obama. In a summer-long trial that often mimicked a chaotic theater performance last year, a federal jury deadlocked on all but one count—lying to the FBI. Blagojevich never took the stand as promised and the defense didn’t call a single witness.Jurors got to hear the two-term governor’s profanity-laced tirades on FBI wiretaps played during the eight-week trial in the same Chicago federal court that’s hosting the retrial. Federal authorities had taped Blagojevich as part of an ongoing investigation for selling the influence of his office, lucrative state jobs and contracts to the highest bidder.Throughout the first trial Blagojevich confidently strolled around the courthouse shaking hands with well-wishers, waving and winking at the sizeable crowds that gathered daily to take pictures. There isn’t nearly as much interest the second time around and the overflow courtroom that often filled up in the first trial isn’t even open.In all Blagojevich is being charged with 10 counts of wire fraud, four of attempted extortion, two of bribery, two of conspiracy to commit extortion and two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery. No word if the pugnacious former two-term governor will take the stand this time around. One thing is for sure, Blagojevich still has some fans. During a break, one man got in trouble for trying to take a picture with the former governor with a cell phone (no cameras in federal court).