ABC News' Chris Bury reports: Like the professional politician he is, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich smiled and waved to spectators lined up in the lobby of the federal courthouse in Chicago where his second trial on federal corruption charges is underway today.
Blagojevich’s attorneys opened his defense with a witness list of prominent politicians, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. Blagojevich himself will take the stand Thursday.
In the first trial, jurors deadlocked on all but one guilty verdict of lying to a federal agent.
Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff, testified that no one asked him for anything in return for Blagojevich appointing Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett to Obama’s vacated Senate seat.
Earlier, Jackson had suggested that Blagojevich did not name his wife to a state post — director of the Illinois lottery — because Jackson refused to donate $25,000 to Blagojevich’s campaign.
Federal prosecutors are accusing Blagojevich of attempting to steer the Senate seat to Jackson in return for more than $1 million in campaign contributions from Jackson’s political allies. Jackson has said he knows nothing of such a deal and is not charged with any wrongdoing.
Blagojevich will take the stand Thursday in a last-ditch attempt to show the allegations amount to little more than political bluster — all talk and no action.
“That’s a tough sell,” said former U.S. attorney Ron Safer, who says Blagojevich is guilty of a crime “if he attempted it.”