- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2009


The president of the Illinois Senate says Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich wants to make a closing statement at his impeachment trial.

Sen. John Cullerton told colleagues Wednesday that the governor has asked for the time Thursday. Mr. Cullerton says Mr. Blagojevich isn’t asking to testify - which would involve his answering questions from senators.

Mr. Blagojevich, a 52-year-old Democrat, has refused to take part in the trial so far, spending the time on a media blitz instead. He says that Senate impeachment trial rules are unfair and that he’s done nothing wrong.

Mr. Cullerton, also a Democrat, is recommending that the Senate allow Mr. Blagojevich to speak.

At the trial Wednesday, the issues presented had nothing to do with allegations that the governor tried to sell President Obama’s vacated Senate seat - instead focusing on accusations that he broke hiring laws, wasted taxpayer money and illegally defied the state legislature.

Impeachment prosecutor David Ellis opened the third day of proceedings by saying he planned to trim his witness list to avoid repeating material, meaning testimony could wrap up Wednesday.

Among those expected to testify were Auditor General William Holland, whose reviews of government agencies often found examples of mismanagement and improprieties under Mr. Blagojevich, and experts on the powers of a legislative committee the governor defied.

But Mr. Ellis said he may cut testimony from lawmakers describing the findings of the House investigation and testifying on the damage the Blagojevich scandal has done to the state.

Republicans objected, saying they wanted to hear from every possible witness, even if they’re just summarizing the conclusions of the Illinois House impeachment probe.

“I’ll sit here on Super Bowl Sunday, if I have to, to make sure the governor of the great state of Illinois gets a fair trial,” said Sen. Kirk Dillard, Hinsdale Republican.

As he’s been throughout the impeachment trial, Mr. Blagojevich was a no-show Wednesday. He spent the trial’s first two days giving interviews to the national news media and talk shows in New York.

“If he wants to come down here instead of hiding out in New York and having Larry King asking questions instead of the senators, I think he’s making a mistake,” Mr. Cullerton said. “He should come here and answer the questions and provide the context he claims that these statements are being taken out of.”

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