It was almost three years ago to the day that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald ordered the FBI to arrest then-Governor Blagojevich.
"The FBI arrested Gov. Blagojevich in the midst of what can only be described as a political corruption crime wave," Fitzgerald said on Dec. 9, 2008. "The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave."
It was a rhetorical flourish heard 'round the world, one some legal experts called inappropriate. Rod Blagojevich himself would point to it to claim Pat Fitzgerald was poisoning the public against him... and to justify his own rhetorical excesses.
Blagojevich took off on an unprecedented public relations offensive, using national TV appearances to label prosecutors "persecutors," calling them corrupt. He repeatedly called the prosecutor a liar, said he was hiding "evidence" and, last year, issued this testosterone-soaked challenge: "I'll be in court tomorrow. I hope you're man enough to be there, too."
On Wednesday, the victorious Fitzgerald was subdued when I asked about the former governor's two young daughters. They'll likely be adults when their father finally emerges from prison.
"I couldn't fathom what I would say to those two girls. What happened to the family is a very sad situation. What we have to understand is, when people commit crimes there are severe consequences to the victims of the crime. And the harshest consequences are for their families," Fitzgerald said.
Gov. Pat Quinn was also in a somber mood on Wednesday. He acknowledged the Blagojevich family tragedy, but praised the lengthy prison sentence.
"Justice was served by the sentence meted out by the judge today," Quinn said. "And I want to assure the people of Illinois that I believe in ethics and integrity and honesty in government all the time. And that's what we have to do in our state government, make sure it's as honest as the people of the State of Illinois."