Former Illinois Governor Blagojevich rests in corruption trial

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Despite promises he would testify in his own corruption trial, lawyers for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich rested their case yesterday morning. His defense did not call a single witness, and apparently feels the prosecution has not proven their case. Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday.

Mug shot of Rod Blagojevich
Image: US Marshals Service.

Speculation that Blagojevich would not testify began on Tuesday, when U.S. District Judge James Zagel adjourned 90 minutes early after a private meeting with the lawyers involved. Robert Blagojevich, the former governor's brother and co-defendant in the case, had already testified on his own behalf. Blagojevich's defense team apparently considered resting their case on Tuesday, but Zagel gave them an extra day to consider their decision more carefully.

When Zagel directly asked the former governor about his decision, he replied that he understood what he was doing. "It is my decision, under the advice of my attorneys. I make the decision fully and voluntarily," he said.

Blagojevich is charged with trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat that had been vacated by Barack Obama when he won the 2008 presidential election, among other crimes. Robert Blagojevich testified that his brother was trying to manipulate the political situation to his advantage, but emphasized that he engaged in nothing illegal. According to some sources, Blagojevich was interested in leading the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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