Reporting with Natasha Korecki
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Niewoehner is delivering the prosecution's opening statement, which is clear, concise and aided by overhead pictures linked to the different alleged shakedown schemes. It appears the government is responding to complaints by last summer's jury that they were not clear enough in their presentation.
Niewoehner is emphasizing five shakedown schemes and laying them out in simple terms. Perhaps addressing what some jurors called a lack of a "smoking gun," Niewoehner is describing each alleged shakedown and ending with this: "And right there, the crime was complete: state action for personal benefit."
As soon as Blagojevich made the demand, Niewoehner is arguing, a crime was committed. He said sometimes Blagojevich was subtle; other times, he was less so.
"Sometimes he was subtle as a freight train," Niewoehner said, describing an alleged shakedown of a Chicago school. "He just laid it out: personal benefit for state action."