SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday missed his second deadline for filing formal answers to an impeachment charge, with a Senate trial over his ouster now less than a week away.
The second-term Democrat, whose criminal lawyers quit his impeachment defense in protest of the trial's rules last week, had until 4 p.m. to file a request to dismiss the charge and kill the Senate proceeding. Had he done so, senators, sitting as judges in the trial, would have voted on whether to grant the request.
As a result of his inaction, the Senate will presume that the governor pleads "not guilty" to the charge and move toward opening the historic trial on Monday, said Toby Trimmer, spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton.
Spokesman Lucio Guerrero said he didn't know what Blagojevich would do.
"He hasn't filled me in on his plans," Guerrero said.
A newly sworn-in House voted 117-1 Jan. 14 to impeach Blagojevich on a charge that he abused his power as governor. Blagojevich was issued a Senate summons that day and had had until Saturday to file a document answering charges in the case, but did not, Trimmer said.
Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on a federal complaint that he tried to trade government action for campaign contributions or a high-paying job, and in one case, in exchange for firing unfriendly newspaper editorial writers. Federal prosecutors have until April to indict him on the charges.
Chicago lawyers Ed Genson, Sam Adam and his son, Samuel E. Adam, gave up an impeachment defense on Friday, with the Adams comparing the process to a "lynching." Genson distanced himself from such talk but said the Senate trial's outcome was a "foregone conclusion."
Genson said he would still defend Blagojevich on the federal corruption charges.
Among complaints outlined in a statement to the Chicago Tribune, the Adams said they were not given subpoena power to call and question their own witnesses at the Senate trial.
But that's the next deadline. By 4 p.m. Wednesday, both the House prosecutor and the defense must file all requests for subpoenas of witnesses and documents, along with requests for entering evidence, including evidence not considered by the House committee that recommended impeachment.
Both sides then have until 10 a.m. Saturday to respond to the other side's requests for subpoenas and evidence. The Senate will decide what evidence and subpoenas are allowed.