Meanwhile, Back on Planet Blago..
Impeached Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s second corruption trial is underway in Chicago, with nearly all the same evidence as the first trial, just packaged and presented in a whole new way.
Potential jurors called in for possible duty filled out lengthy questionnaires that help prosecutors and defense lawyers weed out anyone with strong biases for or against Blagojevich. Jury selection is expected to take at least a week.
Since Blagojevich’s first trial ended last year with jurors deadlocked on all but one count of lying to the FBI, federal prosecutors have simplified their case and dropped complex charges to address previous jurors’ complaints that the evidence was too difficult to follow.
Blagojevich still faces 20 charges, including allegations he sought to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat for campaign cash or a top job.
Blagojevich already could get up to five years in prison for the lying conviction at the first trial, and the stakes are as high as ever this time. A conviction on just one offense could mean a decade or more behind bars.
Blagojevich has become a high profile media personality since his first trial last year. The former contestant on TV’s “Celebrity Apprentice” recently said he looked forward to the chance to try and prove his innocence.