- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 11, 2008


The attorney general of Illinois urged besieged Gov. Rod Blagojevich to resign Thursday and warned she will ask the state Supreme Court to force him out unless he steps down.

“I am prepared to take action,” Attorney General Lisa Madigan said on CNN.

President-elect Barack Obama suggested at a news conference that the disgraced Democratic governor should step down.

“I do not think the governor at this point can effectively serve,” he said.

Senior Illinois officials also have called on Mr. Blagojevich to resign following his arrest Tuesday on charges that he wanted to sell Mr. Obama’s U.S. Senate seat. The second-term governor has ignored the calls.

“I was as appalled and disappointed as anyone,” Mr. Obama said of the conspiracy and solicitation of bribery charges against Mr. Blagojevich. “I think the public trust has been violated.”

He reiterated that he never discussed his vacated Senate seat with Mr. Blagojevich, adding, “I am confident that no representative of mine” would have spoken with the governor about it.

Ms. Madigan said: “The easiest way for us to move on in the state of Illinois is for Governor Blagojevich to do the right thing for the people and to resign. Now, it doesn’t appear that he has any inclination to do that. Maybe things will change today or tomorrow.”

The attorney general said she “won’t wait terribly long” for Mr. Blagojevich to act.

“I have the opportunity to go to our Illinois Supreme Court and ask them to declare our governor is unable to serve and put in our lieutenant governor as acting governor,” Ms. Madigan said.

The lieutenant governor is Pat Quinn.

“I really think that the governor needs to resign and step aside right now, and I think that will happen,” he told NBC’s “Today” show. “If the governor doesn’t act, he will be impeached.”

FBI agents arrested Mr. Blagojevich at his home Tuesday, leading him away in handcuffs. He was charged with conspiracy and solicitation to commit bribery. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison on the conspiracy charge and up to 10 years in prison on the solicitation to commit bribery charge.

A document released by prosecutors included excerpts of wiretapped conversations in which Mr. Blagojevich allegedly planned to enrich himself by offering to sell Mr. Obama’s Senate seat in exchange for campaign cash or a job in or out of government.

The Legislature may convene for a special session Monday to strip Mr. Blagojevich of his authority to appoint a new U.S. senator. They also may discuss the possibility of impeachment.

Mr. Obama said any Senate vacancy should be filled “in the appropriate way.”

Lawyers for Mr. Blagojevich have insisted that he is innocent. A resignation could make it appear as if he were guilty of the charges against him.

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