MAY 05, 2011
Chicago–As Rod Blagojevich’s top aide delivered a third day of testimony in his former boss’s corruption retrial, the big talk around the Chicago federal courthouse was about the impeached Illinois governor’s trademark fluffy hair.That’s how tedious and uneventful the day went as Blagojevich’s onetime chief of staff, John Harris, recounted how the ousted governor planned to make money by exchanging Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat for a lucrative job, a cabinet position in the new administration or campaign contributions.Besides a few amusing FBI wiretaps featuring Blagojevich’s profanity-laced tirades (he regularly uses the F word), the trial pretty much dragged on much like the first one, which took eight weeks and ended in jury deadlock on all but one count (lying to the FBI). On Thursday jurors were undoubtedly thankful that court ended unexpectedly early because Blagojevich’s attorney got sick and couldn’t return after the lunch break. The government finished questioning Harris and cross examination by the defense will begin when the trial resumes on Monday.With the action so humdrum inside the courtroom, the big discussions around the courthouse corridors centered on Blagojevich’s hair. It used to be “black shoe polish” and now it’s a “softer brown,” said one insider who got a pass to see the trial live. There isn’t nearly as much interest as the first trial and the overflow courtroom isn’t even open, but getting a spot to watch the action live is still tricky.As the first week of testimony concluded, the most entertaining aspects featured Blagojevich “working the crowd,” as one local reporter said to another. During breaks Blagojevich struts out smiling, waving and winking to anyone who makes eye contact with him. On Thursday morning the former governor approached a group of schoolchildren on a field trip to the courthouse. With a big smirk, he told their teacher “I’m not governor anymore” and joked with an 11-year-old boy who shook his hand. “You look like a U.S. Senator,” Blagojevich told the boy. “If I knew you two years ago I would have considered you for the senate.”
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