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Blago Talks



    This moment has been in the making for at least two years. Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich finally took the stand.

    "I'm Rod Blagojevich," he said Thursday morning. "I used to be your governor, and I'm here to tell the truth."

    The impeached governor began his testimony by telling his life story and political background with long, in-depth stories.

    “How you feeling today?” Attorney Goldstein asked. Blagojevich said he waited a long time to get his side of the story out.

    Blagojevich: They Have Recordings of Me?

    [CHI] Blagojevich: They Have Recordings of Me?
    May 11, 2011: Wednesday was a bad day for Rod Blagojevich in federal court, as jurors in his corruption trial heard one of the former governor's alleged scandals unfold, on tape after tape, start to finish.
    (Published Wednesday, May 25, 2011)

    It took quite a while longer during the testimony.


    During an extensive biographical Q&A, Blagojevich talked about his time at the University of Tampa, why Aug. 16, 1977, was an important day in his life (Elvis' death) and about his basketball aspirations as a kid.

    Blagojevich: The Government Proved Nothing

    [CHI] Blagojevich: The Government Proved Nothing
    Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich speaks to the media and the people of Illinois after being convicted on one of 24 counts brought against him.
    (Published Friday, Feb. 18, 2011)

    "When I was governor, I think I was the only governor in the United States who could spin a basketball on all five fingers of his right hand. At least I had that going for me."

    He choked up a little while talking about his father never getting to see him become governor and told of how a teacher who died of cancer taught him a lot, including Shakespeare.

    He even talked about his hair. "Look, I'm a product of the disco era, where a hairbrush is an extension of your right hand." And about his foul mouth. "When I hear myself on those tapes, I sound like an F-ing jerk and I apologize."

    He constantly turned to the jury to tell these stories, and at times, some jurors looked everywhere except at him. After almost an hour of testimony, there were no objections.

    This testimony marks the biggest difference separating Blagojevich's first and second corruption trials.

    In his first trial, Blagojevich and his lawyers vowed repeatedly that he would testify, only to change their minds at the end of the prosecution’s case. The defense rested in that trial, offering no witnesses, declaring that prosecutors had failed to prove the charges.

    "I believed all along I would testify," Blagojevich said after his first trial in the lobby of the Dirksen Federal Court building. The government, he said, led his defense team to believe the trial would last four months and that several other witnesses would testify. "But the government proved my case, proved I was innocent, and there was nothing further for me to add."

    The jury in that first trial deadlocked on all charges, except for a single count of lying to the FBI.