CHICAGO, June 8 (UPI) -- Lawyers gave a Chicago jury opposite portraits as former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial opened, one side calling him corrupt, the other naive.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton charged in her opening statement Tuesday that Blagojevich tried to use the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama as a "golden ticket" to help him pay off $200,000 in debt, the Chicago Tribune reported. She said jurors would hear his efforts to sell the seat in wiretapped conversations.
"He corrupted the office of the governor of the state of Illinois for his own personal benefit," she concluded. "When you hear him say this senate seat is golden and he's not giving it up for nothing, you are going to know, that's how he viewed his power."
Defense lawyer Sam Adams Jr. said his client is "as honest as the day is long." He described him as a naive man surrounded by those who used him unscrupulously.
"He's broke," Adam said sarcastically. "The biggest politician that is corrupt in America and he's broke. He didn't take a dime."
The indictment of Blagojevich, a Democrat, has been a major embarrassment for Obama and a further embarrassment for the state of Illinois. His Republican predecessor, George Ryan, is now serving a federal prison term.
After swearing in the jury early Tuesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge James Zagel said there would be no Twittering from the courtroom during the trial, The Wall Street Journal reported. He also barred the principals from making public statements, saying those might create "an adverse influence."
Longtime New York columnist Jimmy Breslin accompanied Blagojevich and his wife into the courtroom Tuesday.