Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney
Rod Blagojevich arrived at a media-frenzied courthouse around 9:30 this morning. But on this "decision day," the usually outspoken ex-governor walked right past crowds of reporters and cameras.
Outside the courthouse, he shook hands with a cabbie, waved at onlookers and posed for a picture -- but said nothing. When asked specifically whether he intended to testify, he did not respond.
Upstairs, the hallway outside the 25th floor courtroom is packed with onlookers. The ex-governor waved and said only, "Welcome to the trial."
His lawyer, Sam Adam Jr., was asked if his client would testify, but only smiled and shrugged.
Sources say Blagojevich has not changed his mind -- he is not expected to take the stand.
At 9:40, the media is still cordoned off from entering the courtroom -- but the tension is already palpable. One reporter is sweating profusely, wiping sweat with a napkin. Another spoke of feeling unnerved.
A security officer just announced that whoever doesn't have a ticket should go to the overflow room on the 14th floor now, because there will be no room.
The overflow room is crowded, too. The usually-empty benches for the public are filled with people, and new media faces are vying for precious seats at the tables. Even the jury box is full of spectators.
Judge James Zagel has been holding hearings for other cases this morning, but wrapped up that other business around 9:45. The Blagojevich trial is next up, in just a few minutes.
Finally, just before 10:00 -- a half-hour later than usual -- spectators have been let into the courtroom. A court officer announces to the chatty room that the judge will "not tolerate" people jumping up and rushing out once the action starts, and urges people to go to the overflow room now -- clearly a warning to the media.