MAY 26, 2011
Testifying at his corruption retrial, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich offered perhaps the most accurate description of himself just minutes after taking the stand for the first time: “I am an f-ing jerk and I apologize.”The disgraced politician rambled about his youth, Little League baseball, the struggles of his Serbian immigrant family and his childhood job as a shoe shiner. He also mentioned that history inspires him and choked up about the death of his parents, who incidentally he claims have helped him from heaven.It was an apparent effort to win jurors over, though none showed any signs of compassion and one reporter inside the courtroom observed a juror “extremely annoyed” by all the personal history. Blagojevich has been charged with 20 felonies, including trying to sell President Obama’s old senate seat. Jurors deadlocked on all but one count (lying to the FBI) at his first trial last summer, but Blagojevich never testified so his appearance has been anxiously anticipated.There was doubt the impeached two-term governor would actually take the stand up until the moment he was sworn in. “I would prefer to be somewhere else,” Blagojevich told jurors, adding that he was in court to tell the truth after a 2 ½-year wait. Now he feels “very liberated.”Proceedings will juice up next week (no trial on Fridays) when the defense softball questions conclude and prosecutors dig in. As it did last summer, Judicial Watch will cover the trial live inChicago.JW has long investigated widespread corruption in the Blagojevich Administration. In 2006 Blagojevich refused a JW public records request for subpoenas relating to the federal probe of his office and in 2007 JW filed an open records lawsuit in Cook County Court to obtain them. In 2009 JW obtained public records that prove Obama and Blagojevich had repeated contact after Obama became president even though the White House has vehemently denied it.
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