Instead of getting a fair trial by the state Senate, impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich said in a Friday press conference that he’s being hanged, comparing his situation to an old western movie.
Instead of getting a fair trial by the state Senate, impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich said in a Friday press conference that he’s being hanged, comparing his situation to an old western movie. Reiterating his denial of any wrongdoing related to the charges levied against him in a 76-page criminal complaint by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Blagojevich said the Senate trial that is scheduled to begin Monday is unfair and tramples on his constitutional rights. Blagojevich said he will not be allowed to properly defend himself, including calling witnesses that “could compromise” federal prosecutors criminal investigation of the governor, such as Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s chief of staff; Valerie Jarrett, an advisor to the president; and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-2nd. He will also not be allowed to object to any House impeachment records passed on to the Senate. “Under these (two) rules, I’m not getting a fair trial. They’re just hanging me. They’re hanging the 12 million people of Illinois who twice have elected a governor,” he said during the news conference held at his Chicago office, likening the ordeal to a cowboy who was accused of stealing a horse. One accuser wanted to hang the cowboy while another cynically wanted to give a fair trial, then hang him, Blagojevich said. “Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence? Political figures are just waiting to get me out of the way to raise the income tax,” he said. The governor was impeached Jan. 9, one month after the FBI arrested him on corruption charges. He’s made it clear that he’s not resigning or going down without a fight. But his tone has since changed, and he stopped short of conceding defeat. Blagojevich ignored a summons to appear before the Senate and flat out refuses to participate in the trial next week. His attorneys have also backed away. The two-term governor said he’s “eager” to confront the charges, but two Senate rules are standing in his way and are a “gross violation of every constitutional principle that exists.” He said the matter goes beyond him. “This is bigger than me. If they remove me from office, what chance does another governor have? This will have a chilling effect on every governor in the future. If they can do this to a governor, they can do this to any citizen in Illinois,” Blagojevich emphatically said. Blagojevich then pleaded for the media’s help, including the Chicago Tribune. According to the criminal complaint, the governor tried to have at least one member of the Tribune’s editorial board fired. He asked for the editorial boards at major newspapers in the state to carefully look at “these two rules, weigh in and encourage the state Senate to change those rules so I can have a chance to defend myself.” State Sen. Matt Murphy, R-27th, who sits on the Rules Committee, said the governor’s repeated ruse of allegations against the state legislature was “theater of the absurd.” Murphy said Blagojevich is welcome to call any witness that will not be used for purposes in the criminal trial. He also said the rules Blagojevich objects to are the same ones used in Clinton’s impeachment trial, where he was acquitted. He also said in Blagojevich’s case, the “presumption of innocence” is for the federal court, not the Senate. Murphy did say that the only “accurate” statement the governor made was about increased taxes if Blagojevich is ousted. ______ Copyright 2009 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.