The jury has been selected.
18 people including the 6 alternates.
11 women and 7 men. (I'm sure some day I'll come to understand why that's the first bit of info divulged.)
According to the local press, Zagel hasn't actually specified who will comprise the "regular jury" but the first twelve people seated were 8 women and 4 men. College kids, a human resources manager, a guy who was born in a Japanese internment camp, and an accountant to name a few.
Blago made a brief statement to the media, and then grabbed Jimmy Breslin and used him as a human shield while entering the Dirksen Building.
Blago said that this is an "historic day."
Zagel told Blago that it's his right to speak, but warned him that his repeated use of the media could come back to haunt him. (ha! ya think?) Zagel also issued a hard and fast rule in his courtroom. No Twitter during the trial.
Blago, stop Tweeting this instant! (I'm already enjoying this trial.)
Assistant US Attorney Carrie Hamilton came out firing for the prosecution. She described Blago's 6 years as Illinois governor as essentially a feeding frenzy of corruption, noting state construction contracts given to donors, $10billion state loans from friendly investment banks, and of course attempts made to profit from the appointment of Barack Obama's US Senate replacement.
It was also revealed that Blago and Lady MacBlago were $200,000 in debt back in 2008, which I found a curious thing to reveal. If I'm prosecuting Blago, and trying to connect him to 6 years of gorging at the trough of ill-gotten-gain, I'm probably not going to mention that he was broke at the end of that 6 years. Maybe it's me.
Tony Rezko, Lon Monk, Stuart Levine, and the late Chris Kelly were mentioned as people who were in on the take. Hamilton pointed out that as Rezko went down for the count, and Kelly whacked himself, Blago's income decreased, and the household debt increased, so I understand where she's going. Personally, I'd have stayed focused on the big money shakedowns and the sexy Obama Senate seat auction for the time being.
Hamilton's tag-line was "What about me?"
She's painting a picture of consistent self-serving on Blago's part, and putting the people of Illinois second. He even involved his own brother, co-defendant Robert Blago. According to Carrie Hamilton, it's always been "What about me?" for Blago, and she's got 500 hours of federal wiretaps to back up the claim.
Michael Ettinger, Robert Blagojevich's lawyer, took his turn and opened by saying that "My name is Michael Ettinger, and I have the honor of representing retired Lt. Col. Robert Blagojevich." He went on to describe his client as an innocent businessman who was never "in it for the money." He called Robert Blago a 'great man'
Ettinger needs to be careful with those military credentials, as Mark Kirk (R-Senate Candidate) discovered these last few days. If not for the Blago trial, Mark Kirk's misrepresenting his career as an award winning member of the Naval Reserve Intelligence Brigade would be front page news. (Why is Fox News not all over the Kirk thing? They lapped at Blumenthal for days.)
Okay, now Sam Adam Jr. has taken the podium, and after insisting that his client is an honest guy, he has just pointed out that "He's broke! He's broke! And do you know why he's broke ladies and gentlemen? It's not hard. He never took a dime." (Okay Sam, maybe it's not just me then.)
And, now Adam is saying that Blago is the man who pointed the feds at Tony Rezko.
Oh Jesus Christ, this is great! Blago wouldn't possibly be in cahoots with the guy, he turned him in!
In the course of his opening statement, Adam Jr. found a way to mention peacocks and a 'specialized gynecologist.' (Goddamn I wish I was in that courtroom!) In summing up how he feels the feds are targeting his client, Sam Adam Jr. said that "This is the federal government. The same people who are chasing bin Laden, are chasing him!Ho-lee shit! Osama bin Laden. Maybe I should blog this trial over at Shameful Conduct.