CHICAGO — From the somewhat contrite convicted governor to the fighter who reemerged from prison, WGN Investigates has the tale of two Rods.
“This is a time to be strong. This is a time to fight through adversity,” Blagojevich said after his 2011 sentencing hearing.
It was a shell-shocked Rod Blagojevich who emerged from his sentencing hearing nine years ago. His acceptance of responsibility, apology and plea for mercy has for the most part fallen on deaf ears.
“I have nobody to blame but myself and my stupidity,” Blagojevich told the judge before sentencing that day.
He didn’t mirror those sentiments Tuesday night on his way to his Ravenswood Manor home.
“The people of Illinois trusted me and I didn’t let them down,” Blagojevich said.
When he asked for leniency in 2011, Blagojevich specifically referenced the wiretaps in which he was caught plotting to trade an appointment to Barack Obama’s senate seat for personal gain.
“I’ve got this thing and it’s (expletive) golden,” Blagojevich said on wiretaps. “And I’m not going to give it up for (expletive) nothing.”
He now blames overzealous prosecutors, but didn’t back in 2011.
“Those were the things that I said, those were the things that I talked about doing, I discussed in conversations, and I am responsible for that,” Blagojevich said. “I caused it all. I’m not blaming anybody.”
Flash forward to Tuesday night, and it’s a different story.
“It was a way to fight for the people of Illinois,” Blagojevich said. “Corrupt prosecutors who have too much power, who are accountable to no one, who break the law to do their jobs because it advances their careers.”
While Blagojevich has always struggled to take responsibility for his crimes, which also included the shakedown the CEO of a children’s hospital, he came closest that day in court.
“The jury decided that I was guilty and I am accepting of it, I acknowledge it, and I, of course, am unbelievably sorry for it,” Blagojevich said in 2011.
But the newly released and unrepentant Blagojevich is now selling a different story.
“I didn’t let anyone down and I never gave in to the false accusations and railroading done to me and my family,” Blagojevich said Tuesday.
In 2011, Blagojevich called his decision to fight back and antics in the media leading up to his trial “childish” and “unproductive.”
Now, this former Golden Gloves boxer is back to his old self “fighting” what he calls a “persecution not prosecution.”
Steve Wlodek sat on Blagojevich’s first jury.
“To see him grandstand in the lobby of the courthouse and see it again today,” Blagojevich said. “Would like to see someone of remorse… this is who he is.”
Roland Burris, the man who was appointed to the senate seat Blagojevich was convicted of trying to sell, had a different take.
“I think the governor had served long enough of a 14-year sentence,” Burris said.
Burris told WGN he did not attempt to buy the seat.
“I in no way attempted to buy the seat,” Burris said. “Didn’t even know he was trying to sell the seat. I only accepted the appointment ‘cause he had authority to do it.”
Knowing the history of Blagojevich, there’s probably not a whole lot of people surprised he went after the criminal justice system rather than taking responsibility for his actions.