The case laid out against the former Illinois governor was built over the course of a six-year investigation that delved into a range of state contracts, political donations, and allegations of backroom deals. Much of it rested on hundreds of hours of recorded telephone conversations, including dozens between Blagojevich and his top advisers. It broke dramatically into the public realm in late 2008, as prosecutors alleged the governor was attempting to cash in an extremely valuable political chit – the newly open senate seat that had been vacated by Obama.
In one tape, Blagojevich can be heard telling an aide "I mean I, I've got this thing and it's [bleep]ing golden … And I, I'm just not giving it up for [bleeping nothing."
Blagojevich said the tapes may sound boorish, but they only capture what he called "routine" musings and brainstorming with his lawyers and advisers about the options arrayed before him. CLICK HERE to follow the ABC News Investigative Team on Twitter.
"I was discussing ideas," he said. "Good ones, stupid ones, ugly ones, just discussing ideas, thinking out loud. Discussing different scenarios."
Ross asked, "You really believe this is routine politics? This is what politics is?"
Blagojevich replied: "It's routine political horse trading. Say what you will, this is how the system works."
Later, Blagojevich defended his decision to allow his children to attend his trial – something jurors said afterwards they found distasteful. He said his 14-year-old daughter asked him to allow her to attend. Once he consented, he said his younger daughter, who is seven, did not want to be left behind.
The federal case against him, he added, has taken a severe toll on his family. He recounted how he heard his younger child playing out a conversation between two dolls in which one doll said to the other, "You know I know you lied about me because you want to put me in jail but I'm still your friend."
"I found that heartbreaking because my little one is actually picking up some of the dynamics of this case where I've had some friends that have lied about me and she knows that happens," the former governor said. "She knows that there was one we didn't win and the others we're in a good place on, but we're going to work on that."
Blagojevich said that he would, under no condition, accept a plea deal that would require him to admit guilt in any of the corruption allegations – even a deal that allowed him to stay out of prison. On the one guilty count alone, he could face a five year sentence, though he vowed to appeal.
"The real world of politics, Brian, is rough and tumble business," he said.