I rode on the elevator with ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, moments after he left the courtroom this morning. We were on the way down to the courthouse lobby, where he knew a massive media horde awaited him.
He was in a chipper mood, despite just pleading not guilty to sweeping corruption charges. He shook my hand and smiled.
"How are you?"
"How are you" I countered, then asked how he was feeling.
Blagojevich thought for a second.
Then he compared himself to Winston Churchhill after battle. He quoted the British statesman: "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
I followed him to the courthouse lobby where the media scrum was waiting. He floated toward the cameras, almost instinctively, but his lawyer tugged at him to just keep walking.
Blagojevich then said he wouldn't talk. But then he turned and said: "the truth will prevail. I look forward to clearing my name and being vindicated."
Instead of wearing a jogging suit like the day he appeared in court in December following his arrest, Rod Blagojevich wore a pin-striped suit and a blue tie. He was serious in the courtroom, keeping his hands folded in front of him and answering: "I have a degree from law school," when asked about his education.
Rod and Robert Blagojevich, were released on $4,500 recognizance bonds, after they were charged in a 19-count indictment. Rod Blagojevich's lawyer, Sheldon Sorosky, asked for a short court date to ask for an expanded travel for his client. Rod Blagojevich, 52, is trying to head to Costa Rica to film a reality TV show there -- but they need court permission before that can happen. Sorosky also told U.S. District Judge James Zagel that the governor needs another lawyer and said there were concerns with tapping into the Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund to pay attorney's fees. Zagel set a short date for next week to take up those issues.
Just before entering the courthouse to a media throng, Robert Blagojevich, 53, of Tennessee, said simply: "I'm prepared."
The media circus was in full swing at the courthouse, with dozens of photographers and reporters swarming the governor and pushing and shoving each other.
On his way out, Rod Blagojevich at first said he'd take no questions but as he turned to leave, he started answering shouting reporters.
As he answered, more people moved in around him, barely allowing him to walk. "Oh my God," one photographer exclaimed as he looked over the mass of bodies. Another swore and then apologized to the ex-governor. Blagojevich smiled and said it was nothing he hadn't heard before: "Listen to some of those tapes," he said. The secret recordings of Blagojevich last year are ridden with expletives, according to snippets of transcripts released to the public.
Photographers and cameramen stood atop of concrete barriers to get an overhead view of the ex-governor. Reporters swore as they stepped on each other's feet. Others huddled around, shoving their mics or tape recorders to the governor -- not even getting anywhere near him. "He's not going to leave until the last question is asked," one TV reporter commented on Blagojevich.
Onlookers in the public took out their cell phones to snap photos and videotape the mess. Others inside the courthouse stood by the glass windows, sipping coffee and watching the spectacle.
Through it all, Rod Blagojevich kept a smile, seeming to bask in the attention even as he was getting smothered.
My elevator ride with Blago
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When he was indicted, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich went to Disney World. Now that he's been arraigned on federal corruption charges, Blagojevich wants to head off to the jungles of Costa Rica. Blagojevich has signed on to do a... Read More