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Blagoje-Watch, Day 37: Senators, Lies, and Videotapes

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jan 14, 2009 4:20PM

2009_01_14_blago.jpg Never one to make a fuss about anything, impeached Governor Rod Blagojevich will today make his first appearance at the State Capitol since his arrest on December 9. Blago is on hand to preside over the swearing in of newly elected state senators, something he is required to do by law. Still, we're expecting him to receive a chilly reception at the high noon ceremony. Also occurring at noon will be the swearing in of new House members by Secretary of State Jesse White; the House will then re-vote on the impeachment of Blago, a technicality because of the newly sworn-in members. After the new senators are sworn in, Blago will then preside over the roll call vote for the Senate President, who we already know will be Chicago's John Cullerton. Cullerton will then address the senate and it's expected Blago will exit stage left, though without the traditional escort of senators.

The senators will then get down to business, laying down ground rules for Blago's impending trial, which starts January 26. Cullerton will swear in Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald as the presiding officer of the trial and the senators will be sworn in as jurors. Once that's settled, a summons will be given to Blago to ask for his response to the House's impeachment. Incoming Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) said it best: "It's probably more awkward for him than it is for us. I'm not sure he understands that. I just don't sense that he grasps the seriousness of the situation he's facing." According to others, the rules set forth by the senate will limit Blago's ability to interact with senators at all. Said Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago), "It would be the same as tampering with a jury."

Meanwhile, Blago will be dealing (or not dealing, we suspect) with the revelation that the Feds videotaped visitors coming and going from the Friends of Blagojevich office located at 4147 N. Ravenswood. According to the Sun-Times report on the camera, it was likely installed "to help FBI agents identify individuals entering and leaving the campaign offices -- and to identify who was talking on bugs agents covertly planted inside." In addition to the video camera, it seems even more phones were tapped than previously thought. One former FBI agent told the Sun-Times using the camera was not unusual in a case like this; feds installed a similar camera in a prison visiting room used by suspects in the mob-related Family Secrets trial. Which somehow seems fitting as that federal complaint sure read like a Scorsese movie.

AP Photo/M. Spencer Green