Trial watchers react to Blagojevich on the stand

May 26, 2011 3:18:06 PM PDT
Dozens of people lined-up at the Dirksen Federal Buildings, some of them before dawn, for the chance to witness the former Illinois governor on the witness stand.

At times they heard funny testimony, while other moments provided insight into the political rise of Rod Blagojevich.

Blagojevich told the court that he was a horrible law school student; he admitted to being vain and narcissistic; and he got sidetracked so many times, by Thursday afternoon, even Blagojevich himself was anticipating objections and cutting himself off.

"He's telling the whole story from day one," said law student Lenny Cannata. The law student got one of two dozen "golden" tickets for members of the public to see Blagojevich on the witness stand during his corruption retrial Thursday.

"It's like reading his bio, but I wanted to hear about what happened as governor," Cannata said.

"It's tiring. It's just tiring," said trial watcher Jeanette Bartels.

There were a few funny moments, like when Blagojevich's attorney asked about his client's famous mane.

Defense lawyer: "You talked about being from the disco era, are you still in that era when it comes to the hair?"

Blagojevich: "I'm a product of the disco era where a hairbrush is an extension of your hands... and that hasn't change."

Blagojevich quoted Greek poetry, briefly broke down when asked about meeting his wife and made an odd admission: "I had a man crush on Alexander Hamilton," said the history-loving politician.

"I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that he's just talking on, getting off track and going into details that don't need to be done. It took one and a half hours to get through his first year of law school," Bartels said.

"I think they're portraying him as a sympathetic person, one who had to work hard," said trial watcher Dan van Haften.

When asked if Blagojevich was a good witness, Cannata responded: "I think he is. I noticed some of the jurors responding to a lot of his jokes. The audience responded to his jokes. The judge wasn't responding to anything he said."

The judge allowed Blagojevich a lot of leeway at one point saying, "This is a chance for him to tell his story." Given this was a day when Blagojevich was only quizzed by his own attorneys, it will likely be his easiest day on the stand.


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