Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s (D) corruption trial began today, after a year and a half of the impeached governor and erstwhile Celebrity Apprentice star vowing that the evidence would prove his innocence. In his opening statement this afternoon, Blagojevich’s lawyer argued that Blago is a naive politician who trusted the wrong people, calling his client “insecure” and “broke.”
Blago’s lawyer, Sam Adam Jr., told the jury today that Blago was a victim of men like Tony Rezko and others. He’s naive, Adam said, and so insecure that “he shakes constantly” and “his own lawyers won’t take his phone calls.”
He’s innocent, Adam said, according to the Chicago Tribune, and “honest as the day is long.” The proof? Blago is flat broke.
“He’s broke! He’s broke!” Adam said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “And do you know why he’s broke, ladies and gentlemen? It’s not hard. He didn’t take a dime!”
Besides, Adam said, Blago turned federal investigators on to Rezko, who was later convicted of wire fraud and money laundering.
“He turned them onto Rezko!” Adam shouted. “Nobody would do that. I don’t care how crazy you think the guy is. Nobody would do that!”
Blago is facing a bevy of corruption charges. He’s accused of using his gubernatorial power to shake down money from a children’s hospital and of trying to sell President Obama’s former Senate seat for a lucrative job, among other things.
He will testify, Adam said.
Adam attacked government investigators, saying they were inept.
“The same people chasing Bin Laden are chasing him,” Adam said, according to the Tribune. “And they couldn’t find illegal money. He’s broke.”
The prosecutor, in her opening statement, said that Blagojevich was always out for himself.
“In those instances when he was supposed to be asking, ‘What about the people of Illinois?’ he was asking ‘What about me?’” said the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton, the Sun-Times reports.
Hamilton said the jury would hear wiretap recordings of Blago’s phone calls.
Adam, Blago’s lawyer, is prone to dramatics, alternating between whispering and yelling during today’s statements. The judge told him that while it was OK for him to yell at the jury, he’d have tone it down for the witnesses, according to the Sun-Times.
The judge also warned Blago against tweeting from the courtroom.
Court will reconvene tomorrow at 10 a.m. ET.