WASHINGTON — Opening statements will be delivered Tuesday in former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's federal corruption trial, and if you want to know what he thinks, well, check his tweets. His wife, Patti, is also on Twitter.
"Looking forward to opening statements because that will unlock the truth... stay tuned," Blagojevich sent out under his twitter name, GovernorRod, on Monday morning. A bit earlier he tweeted about an appearance he was making on a Chicago radio show. "i'm on with don and roma," he messaged, referring to WLS-AM radio hosts. As of Monday evening, he had 819 followers on his Twitter account.
Blagojevich, 53, pleaded not guilty to 24 counts — the most sensational that he tried to sell President Obama's former Illinois Senate seat. Blagojevich's defense team has subpoenaed White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett. FBI wiretaps recorded Blagojevich and Emanuel discussing the potential appointment of Jarrett to Obama's seat.
While the Senate appointment has drawn the most headlines, Blagojevich is also accused of a variety of other schemes, from kickbacks to trying to shake down an executive at a Chicago children's hospital for campaign contributions.
Impeached and ousted in 2009, Blagojevich, a flamboyant and amusing character, went on to hire a publicity firm that launched him on a most unusual path for a disgraced defendant facing charges that could send him to prison until he is an old man: booking him on every television and radio show that would have him.
The strategy seemed to have several goals: to make Blagojevich a personality who could earn some money from his infamy — a book, television and radio gigs — and give him multiple platforms to proclaim his innocence.
Blagojevich was on Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" last March, eventually getting booted off the show. And last year, Blagojevich's wife, Patti, ate a tarantula when she was on the reality TV show, "I'm a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here."
Patti Blagojevich, though not charged, is portrayed in court documents as a ghost payroller at a firm run by convicted political fixer Tony Rezko.
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Mrs. Blagojevich is also tweeting — Twitter name PBlagojevich — and on Monday, as the jury was being selected for her husband's trial in the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago's Loop, here is what she had on her mind:
"# Wondering if I have time to get to macy's to get the lip gloss Amy wants for her graduation night," she said, a reference to their daughter, who is graduating from eighth grade.
The Blagojevichs will both be in the courtroom, and Mrs. Blagojevich was getting things done at home to prepare, she tweeted Sunday. "Just got done doing all the chores I won't have time to do this week-groceries,laundry etc. etc."
There is intense media interest in the trial, as she tweeted at 8:21 a.m. June 4: "Helicopters still overhead, starting to feel like Jack Bauer from the tv show 24." Mrs. Blagojevich on Monday night had 121 followers.
U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel is expected finalize jury selection and swear in the panel on Tuesday, with opening arguments to follow. Blagojevich's lawyer, Sam Adam Jr., asked for 2 hours and 30 minutes to outline his defense. Zagel gave him one hour and 45 minutes. Blagojevich's brother, Robert, 54, is also a defendant; he also has plead not guilty. His opening is expected to take an hour. The federal prosecutors go first, and they will take about an hour to make their case.
Before going to court, Blagojevich guested on a radio show.
"It¹s good to be in the courtroom," Blagojevich said on the air, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. "It's the beginning of the process that will unlock the truth."
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