Reporting with Natasha Korecki
When Rod Blagojevich walked into the courthouse this morning, he took off his belt for security. He held it while looking at the media from afar, pretending to hit someone with it: "if I'm bad," he said.
Upstairs in the courtroom, Julie Blagojevich, the wife of brother Robert Blagojevich, has just wrapped up her brief testimony as the defense's first witness.
Before taking the stand, Julie sat in the front row of the courtroom. Her son, Alex, sat next to her with a comforting arm around his mom.
In her testimony, Julie said her family and Rod and Patti were not close; they saw each other once a year and talked a few times a year. Rod asked Robert over the July 4, 2008 holiday if he'd help with his campaign.
Julie said she went out to dinner with Rod and Patti and asked about the swirling federal investigation.
"My impression ... To the best of their ability, to their knowledge, the federal investigation was behind them," she said.
Julie told Robert he could do it, but told him not to take a salary because of possible headlines.
"Did you need the money?" defense attorney Cheryl Schroeder asked.
"No," Julie said. "I felt like Rod did not know Rob. It was a chance for them to grow closer, perhaps."
Julie also set up the scene for Dec. 4, 2008 conversation -- one where her husband is accused of conspiring on the phone with his brother about appointing someone to Barack Obama's Senate seat.
Julie said they were at Starbucks. It was one of three times she had been out all winter because of foot surgery. She said the coffee shop was crowded, busy and noisy at the time.
The defense didn't get into the call with Julie. Robert Blagojevich is now on the stand answering biographical questions -- particularly about his schooling and his military history, all information that portrays him as an upstanding citizen.