- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2009

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Gov. Rod Blagojevich made an impassioned plea Thursday to save his political life, telling state lawmakers that ousting him from office would set a “dangerous and chilling precedent” and charging that prosecutors in his impeachment trial failed to prove he did anything illegal.

“How can you throw a governor out of office on a criminal complaint and you haven’t been able to show or prove any criminal activity?” he asked. “How can you throw a governor out of office who is clamoring and begging and pleading with you to give him a chance to bring witnesses in, to prove his innocence?”

Near tears at one point, the governor demanded: “Let me make my case, let me bring my witnesses in, let me show you that I’m innocent and I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Mr. Blagojevich was impeached in the House Jan. 9 for abuse of power and the Senate is expected to vote on Friday on whether to expel him from office. The 13 accusations include charges that he sought to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Obama, plotted to give financial assistance to the Tribune Co. if members of the Chicago Tribune editorial board were fired, awarded state contracts in exchange for campaign contributions and violated hiring and firing laws.

But the governor said the trial has been flawed from the start, restricting him from calling witnesses who may be involved in an expected criminal trial stemming from his December arrest on federal corruption charges, stemming from secret wiretaps of his home phone that an FBI special agent told Illinois lawmakers shows the governor involved in pay-for-play schemes.

“I wanted to be able to bring in witnesses from Rahm Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff, to [Illinois] Senator Dick Durbin to Senator Harry Reid to [Sen.] Bob Menendez — every single person connected with any conversation I may have had in relation to picking a United States senator,” he said.

“Whether it’s schoolyard justice when one kid hits another, but the kid that hit him wasn’t the one who did it and he’s got other boys he’d like to have tell the teacher he didn’t do it, whether it’s that or whether it’s an impeachment process where you are seeking to remove a governor who was twice elected by the people, I think fundamental fairness, fundamental justice, natural law and constitutional rights suggest I should be able to bring witnesses in to say I didn’t do the things they said I did.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide