Onetime Blagojevich Chief of Staff John Harris has taken the witness stand and is giving an overview of interactions with his onetime boss.
Blagojevich told him to hold up grant money that was to go to a school in then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel's district, he says. That sets the stage for an attempted extortion allegation.
He's also talking about Blagojevich's financial motivations in 2007 and 2008.
"He was very concerned about paying off those bills and dwindling the balance in his campaign fund," Harris said of the then-governor's mounting legal bills.
Harris said Blagojevich was working to build his campaign warchest even though he didn't plan to seek another term.
Money was symbolic of Blagojevich's power. At odds with Springfield at the time, Blagojevich needed to show he had some backing.
"People were shying away from the governor, both personally and in terms of financial support," Harris said, referencing the indictments of two top fund-raisers, Tony Rezko and Christopher Kelly.
Having Harris on first is a change-up. Prosecutors are putting him on as the first overview witness, perhaps viewing him as the least tainted insider.
That's a change from last trial when Lon Monk (who had more issues to contend with) was tapped to go first.
Some insiders point to Harris, 49, as among the tragedies in the Rod Blagojevich case.
Harris is a former military man who worked in city government, he was the go-to guy on the O'Hare Modernization Project and eventually landed a mayoral appointment as budget director.
Then he went to work for Blagojevich.
Harris became Blagojevich's chief of staff in 2005. He resigned in Dec. 2008, three days after he was arrested. He's pleaded guilty to conspiracy to solicit a bribe. He's hoping for probation and now works as an electrician.