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As Blagojevich mops prison floors, he maintains innocence: 'I believe in clean government, and I believe in clean floors'

CHICAGO — More than five years into his 14-year sentence on corruption convictions, Rod Blagojevich, who once held the highest office in Illinois, finds himself on cleaning duty at a Colorado federal prison.

"I've been given the jurisdiction to sweep and mop two floors," he said in an interview with WMAQ-TV in Chicago from prison released Monday, along with an interview in Chicago magazine. "So my jurisdiction has shrunk from the fifth biggest state in America, to these two floors. But I don't care what anybody says, I believe in clean government, and I believe in clean floors."

Blagojevich still maintains his innocence and hopes to make another appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The 60-year-old reported to prison in 2012 after he was convicted on several counts, including for trying to sell former President Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat.

The former governor is now housed in a lower-security section of the prison and said he spends time running on the prison track, working out in the weight room and reading. His fellow prisoners gave him a care package when he first arrived, he said.

"You walk in there on the first day and your heart's broken," he says. "You're in there and then they close the gates on you, and you're in prison. And you're yearning for your children and your wife and your home, and you're looking at 14 years."

Blagojevich sees his family on average three times a year.

"What sustains me during this very difficult long hard trial is the love I have for my children and my wife Patti," he said.

Blagojevich said he is optimistic about the future.

"Even if the world misunderstands you, criticizes you and say you're crazy, take a stand," he said. "Because you know what the truth is. And when you do it, my experience tells me, trust in God."

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Today in History

Today is Wednesday, Sept. 13, the 256th day of 2017. There are 109 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On September 13, 1788, the Congress of the Confederation authorized the first national election, and declared New York City the temporary national capital.

On this date:

In 1759, during the French and Indian War, the British defeated the French on the Plains of Abraham overlooking Quebec City.

In 1814, during the War of 1812, British naval forces began bombarding Fort McHenry in Baltimore but were driven back by American defenders in a battle that lasted until the following morning.

In 1911, the song "Oh, You Beautiful Doll," a romantic rag by Nat D. Ayer and Seymour Brown, was first published by Jerome H. Remick & Co.

In 1923, Miguel Primo de Rivera, the captain general of Catalonia, seized power in Spain.

In 1948, Republican Margaret Chase Smith of Maine was elected to the U.S. Senate; she became the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress.

In 1959, Elvis Presley first met his future wife, 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu, while stationed in West Germany with the U.S. Army. (They married in 1967, but divorced in 1973.)

In 1962, Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett rejected the U.S. Supreme Court's order for the University of Mississippi to admit James Meredith, a black student, declaring in a televised address, "We will not drink from the cup of genocide."

In 1971, a four-day inmates' rebellion at the Attica Correctional Facility in western New York ended as police and guards stormed the prison; the ordeal and final assault claimed the lives of 32 inmates and 11 hostages.

In 1977, conductor Leopold Stokowski died in Hampshire, England, at age 95.

In 1989, Fay Vincent was elected commissioner of Major League Baseball, succeeding the late A. Bartlett Giamatti.

In 1997, funeral services were held in Calcutta, India, for Nobel peace laureate Mother Teresa.

In 2002, the earliest known online use of the term "selfie" (a photographic self-portrait, usually taken with a smartphone) occurred on an Australian Broadcasting Corp. website forum; it came from a man named Nathan Hope, who denied coining the term, saying it was "common slang."

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush, defending an unpopular war, ordered gradual reductions in U.S. forces in Iraq and said in a televised address, "The more successful we are, the more American troops can return home." Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, the most prominent figure in a U.S.-backed revolt of Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida in Iraq, was killed by a bomb planted near his home in Anbar province. The NFL fined New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick $500,000 and the team $250,000 for spying on the New York Jets during a game.

Five years ago: Chanting "death to America," hundreds of protesters angered by an anti-Islam film stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Yemen's capital and burned the American flag. New York City's Board of Health passed a ban on the sale of big sodas and other sugary drinks, limiting the size sold at restaurants, concession stands and other eateries to 16 ounces.

One year ago: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump rolled out a plan aimed at making child care more affordable, guaranteeing new mothers six weeks of paid maternity leave and suggesting new incentives for employees to provide their workers childcare during a speech in Aston, Pennsylvania. Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, 93, suffered a major stroke (he died 15 days later).

— Associated Press