The government made the decision to drop him from the case during a Thursday hearing to discuss the framework for Rod Blagojevich's retrial. Robert was spared because of "the disparity in the roles" of the two brothers and "in the interests of justice," said assistant U.S. Atty. Reid Schar.
Robert was thrilled to hear the news.
"Extreme joy and happiness, and now an incredible clarity that a fog has been lifted from me for a year and a half," Rober said.
"He said 'Oh my god, oh my god.' And then I could hear Julie (Blagojevich) crying hysterically in the background," said Robert's attorney Michael Ettinger, who told him about the decision. "I'm sure he'll be sipping on his favorite drink, single malt scotch tonight. Some liquor store is going to get cleaned out."
Robert also said he felt bad for his brother, who faces a retrial as early as January.
"I believe that my brother is a good decent guy who talked too much…who was a little too reckless with his speech on the telephone not knowing it was being eavesdropped upon," said Robert. "The four months I was with him was not as structured and disciplined as I would have expected ... but that's my own style."
Asked whether he would testify in his brother's defense, Robert hedged.
"I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it,"he said. "I mean that’s the last thing I want to think about is going back to that courtroom and sitting in there again…but I’ll do what I have to do if necessary."
Robert was charged with four counts including wirefraud, extortion and bribery. The jury in the initial trial indicated they were leaning toward acquitting the brother.
It's a relief to Ettinger, who didn't want to participate in a lengthy retrial.
"My mindset was that I didn't want to try this case again this year. I'm completely shocked."
Ettinger said Rod and Robert's relationship is still frayed, but that Robert loves Rod and the two will patch things up.
In other news from the hearing, Judge James Zagel said the earliest date that a new trial could be scheduled to start would be in the first week of January. The judge hinted he would push the date into 2011 so he could spare a jury the burden of being in court through the holidays.
Zagel also said Blagojevich will only be allowed to carry two lawyers into the retrial because he'll need to rely on public funds for his defense.
It's unclear who those lawyers will be at this point.
There has yet to be a decision about whether Rod Blagojevich's lead attorneys, Sam Adam and Sam Adam Jr., will continue to represent the convicted governor.
The next trial date is Sept. 9th.