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updated: 2/28/2012 5:18 PM

Patti Blagojevich says ex-governor is innocent

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  • Talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell interviews former Illinois first lady Patti Blagojevich during a taping of the "The Rosie Show" in Chicago. It is her first televised interview since Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison for corruption.

      Talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell interviews former Illinois first lady Patti Blagojevich during a taping of the "The Rosie Show" in Chicago. It is her first televised interview since Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison for corruption.
    Courtesy of OWN LLC

 
Associated Press

The wife of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich proclaimed his innocence during a TV interview set to air Wednesday, two weeks before he is to report to prison to begin a 14-year sentence for corruption.

In her first interview since her husband's sentencing in December, a tearful Patti Blagojevich said on the Oprah Winfrey Network's "The Rosie Show" that she knows her husband's heart and that he took the public's trust seriously.

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The former governor was convicted during his retrial last year on 17 counts of corruption, including trying to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat left vacant when Barack Obama became president. He has been ordered to report to prison March 15.

Patti Blagojevich told host Rosie O'Donnell that she is certain her husband is innocent.

"I'm positive. I was there and I've heard all the conversations," she said in excerpts of the interview released in advance of the show's airing Wednesday evening. "They can say whatever they want. I know what his intentions were. And I know ... he took the trust that the people put in him seriously and honestly and always wanted to live up to that trust."

The former governor long insisted on his innocence after being arrested and charged in late 2008. But at his December sentencing, Blagojevich stood before Judge James Zagel and apologized again and again, saying he had made "terrible mistakes."

"I caused it all. I'm not blaming anybody," Blagojevich said. "I was the governor and I should have known better and I am just so incredibly sorry."

O'Donnell said Patti Blagojevich was guarded at first during her appearance, but then opened up.

"I wanted to talk to her mom-to-mom about what it felt like to have her world turn upside down," O'Donnell said. "She's just trying to survive it. I don't see her as anything other than a mom in crisis, a woman in crisis."

A focus was the Blagojevich daughters, O'Donnell said.

"These children are going to look at their father on March 15th in the morning and then know they're not going to see him again," she said. "That's kind of hard for a kid to take and I feel for them." O'Donnell said her family planned to get together with the Blagojeviches this weekend for pizza.

The former first lady of Illinois wiped tears from her eyes as O'Donnell offered her own advice, suggesting that her husband face their daughters "to get all of those feelings out" before he leaves for prison.

During the former governor's sentencing hearing, Patti Blagojevich asked the judge in a letter read to the court to "please be merciful." She wrote that the punishment he fears most is not seeing his daughters grow up.

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