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Blagojevich Proclaims Innocence As He Heads To Court

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Rod Blagojevich

Deposed Gov. Rod Blagojevich speaks before heading to court for jury selection for his retrial. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Deposed Gov. Rod Blagojevich took another chance to proclaim his innocence Thursday morning, as he headed to court for jury selection in his retrial.

Blagojevich did not speak as he arrived at the Dirksen Federal Building with his wife Patti. But when he left his Ravenswood Manor neighborhood house a short time earlier, he had plenty to say.

“I’ve waited a long time to get the vindication that I deserve and that I owe to the people of Illinois,” Blagojevich said. “I owe vindication to the people of Illinois so they can see that I didn’t let them down, and so this is yet another process to end what has been a long, hard journey to get that achieved.”

U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel is set to begin questioning potential jurors in open court Thursday, a day after jurors filled out extensive questionnaires that asked about their knowledge of the case.

Court spokesman Joel Daly said U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel hopes to wrap up jury selection by next Wednesday, with opening arguments beginning next Wednesday or Thursday.

The first trial ended eight months ago with jurors deadlocked on 23 of 24 counts against Blagojevich and the jury convicting him of only one count of lying to the FBI.

Now, the ex-governor faces retrial on 20 counts, including allegations that he tried to sell President Barack Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat in 2008. Prosecutors dropped three other counts against him in an effort to make the case less complicated for the jury.

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