Impeachment Trial To Proceed Without Ill. Governor

By: AP
By: AP

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Though Illinois lawmakers are launching an impeachment trial Monday that could remove Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office, the governor himself will be far from the capitol building - instead chatting with Larry King and the women of "The View."

The Democratic governor is refusing to take part in his own trial, arguing that the rules are so biased that he can't possibly get a fair hearing.

"You can conceivably bring in 15 angels and 20 saints led by Mother Teresa to come in to testify to my good character, to my integrity and all the rest. It wouldn't matter," Blagojevich told "Today" in an interview scheduled to air Monday morning.

He also was to appear live on "Good Morning America," "The View" and "Larry King Live," part of an energetic public relations campaign after weeks of near-silence.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said Sunday that Blagojevich should be defending himself at the trial. "Barbara Walters is not on his jury," the Illinois Democrat said, referring to the "View" co-host.

In recent days, Blagojevich has compared himself to the hero of a Frank Capra movie and a cowboy being lynched for a crime he didn't commit. He said that when he was arrested on federal corruption charges, he took solace from thinking of other jailed leaders - Nelson Mandela, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi.

"This man mystifies me," said Ann Lousin, a professor at Chicago's John Marshall Law School.

Blagojevich is accused of scheming to benefit from his power to name President Barack Obama's replacement in the U.S. Senate. Federal prosecutors also said their wiretaps caught Blagojevich threatening to withhold money for children's health care unless he got campaign donations from a hospital executive and offering to trade state aid to the Tribune Co. in exchange for the Chicago Tribune firing unfriendly editorial writers.

In Springfield, state senators will hear details of the criminal charges against Blagojevich. They're likely to hear recordings that allegedly reveal the governor talking about signing legislation in exchange for campaign contributions. In addition to simply removing Blagojevich, the Senate could vote to bar him from ever again holding public office in Illinois.

Despite some experts saying resignation might help Blagojevich with jurors in any future criminal trial, the governor says that's not an option.

"I'm not going to resign, of course not," he told The Associated Press. "I've done absolutely nothing wrong."

He told "Today" that his 5-year-old daughter, Annie, has asked whether he'll still be governor on her birthday in April.

"If I were a betting man, I'd say I probably won't be," Blagojevich said, according to a transcript. "I think the fix is in and... they've decided essentially to do a hanging without even a fair trial."

Whatever the Senate decides, the criminal case against Blagojevich, 52, won't be affected.

With Blagojevich refusing to mount a defense, the impeachment trial could wrap up within days, ending a bizarre political and legal spectacle that began Dec. 9 with Blagojevich's arrest by FBI agents.

His arrest was the final straw for lawmakers, who had spent six years butting heads with Blagojevich. The House quickly voted 114-1 for impeaching the governor. That sent the case to the Senate, where it would take a two-thirds majority to convict Blagojevich and throw him out of office.

Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn would replace him, becoming Illinois' 41st governor.

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
631 SW Commerce Pl. Topeka, Kansas 66615 phone: 785-272-6397 fax: 785-272-1363 email: feedback@wibw.com
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 38318824 - wibw.com/a?a=38318824