Advert

Illinois governor says impeachment trial unfair

"I'm not even getting a fair trial. They're just hanging me" - Blagojevich

"I'm not even getting a fair trial. They're just hanging me" - Blagojevich

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, charged with trying to sell the US Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama, said on Friday he will not take part in an impeachment trial that could remove him from office.

Blagojevich, who has defied calls for him to resign, said the trial scheduled to start tomorrow in the state Senate "is a trampling of the Constitution" because he was barred from an unrestricted calling of witnesses involved in the criminal case against him.

The two-term Democrat was impeached on January 9 by the Illinois House of Representatives for wide-ranging abuse of power. Without a defence, the trial may last less than a week. No one in the Senate, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 37 to 22, has expressed support for him.

If convicted by the Senate, he would be removed from office, with no recourse in the courts, legal experts said.

"It's a scary thing if they get away with doing this," Blagojevich told a news conference. "If a legislature will take away from the people their elected governor, who they elected twice, without giving that governor a chance to challenge the evidence and call witnesses, that's a fundamental violation of the Constitution.

"Under these rules, I'm not even getting a fair trial. They're just hanging me," he said. "If you can remove me from office like this, then you tell me what governor is going to challenge the legislature?"

Blagojevich again denied wrongdoing in the criminal case, in which prosecutors said he was captured on wiretaps talking about trading official acts, including naming Obama's successor in the US Senate, for campaign contributions and jobs.

Blagojevich has since named Roland Burris to replace Obama, and Senate Democrats seated him after initially saying they would not because of the taint of the charges.

A federal judge on Friday agreed to release to the state legislature four FBI tape recordings in which Blagojevich was overheard discussing trading his signature on a bill for a campaign contribution, the US Attorney's office said.

In another development, Blagojevich's lead lawyer Edward Genson said he was withdrawing from the case.

"I've been practising law for 44 years. I have never required a client to do what I say, but I do require them to at least listen to what I say," Genson told reporters without elaborating.

In addition to the pending criminal case that was summarised in an FBI affidavit, the state Senate will consider charges the governor frequently bypassed them to hire political allies and fund programmes such as health insurance for children and the importation of prescription drugs and flu vaccine.

Blagojevich said lawmakers and others wanted him out of the way to enact tax increases, which he has opposed.

The governor said the impeachment rules prevented him from calling witnesses to refute the charges. Among those he wants to call are White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and US Republican Jesse Jackson Jr.

Advert
Comments not loading? We recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox with javascript turned on.
Comments powered by Disqus  
Advert
Advert