Rod Blagojevich suffered a punishing first day of sentencing as U.S. District Judge James Zagel rejected virtually every legal argument the defense made, accused him of concocting a story about his plans for a U.S. Senate appointment and raised doubts about everything from whether the former governor really "came from nothing" to whether he was truly an "extraordinary father."
The setbacks foreshadow what's expected to be an ominous final day of the sentencing hearing on Wednesday in which Blagojevich himself is expected to make a personal appeal to the judge.
The defense asked Zagel to show the former governor mercy by focusing on a father being away from his daughters, 15 and 8, who were not in court. The emotional appeal may be among the ex-governor's only chances for leniency as the possible length of his sentence seemed to ramp up as he lost every major legal battle he faced.
Rejecting a series of defense arguments, Zagel said Blagojevich's crimes technically qualify him for a crippling prison term of 30 years to life -- though the judge quickly deemed that inappropriate "in the context of this case."
Still, it signaled the improbability of Zagel granting the kind of leniency the defense seeks -- less than 3 ½ years. Prosecutors asked for 15 to 20 years.
Read today's story, which offers a recap of Tuesday's events in Chicago federal court: click here