After six weeks of a prosecution case highlighted by dozens of recordings and nearly 30 witnesses, the defense case begins in Rod Blagojevich's trial today with the testimony of Robert Blagojevich and his wife.
Julie Blagojevich is expected to first take the stand this morning, followed by her husband, who worked as Rod Blagojevich's campaign finance chair from August 2008 until the former governor's Dec. 9th arrest. Their testimony is likely to take the entirety of the day and cross examination could move into Tuesday. (Read: "The Other Mrs. Blagojevich.")
Julie and Robert Blagojevich spoke exclusively with the Chicago Sun-Times last year where they described how Robert first decided to work for his brother, the relationship between the families and the impact the case has had on their lives.
"I am frustrated with the government because I believe he is being held hostage by them," Julie Blagojevich said of her husband. "I believe that they indicted Rob to get his brother to plead. ... "We knew about allegations, and we knew about investigations. Rod assured us that he was not doing anything wrong. We understood that the allegations were really behind him, the investigation was really behind him."
Julie Blagojevich is expected to testify about the intrusion of FBI recordings Robert Blagojevich's phone line ("It's just a horrifying, sick, sick feeling.") -- by her account, even when she or her son were on the phone and there was no reason for authorities to listen in. Robert Blagojevich has maintained his innocence, saying the government hijacked his life, dragging him into a criminal case even though he's done nothing wrong. He's charged in five counts.
Here's a primer on the two brothers, and their differences: Brothers Grim