Rod 'I have done absolutely nothing wrong' Blagojevich packs his bags
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, delivering a passionate closing argument to Illinois lawmakers on the verge of impeaching him, said today he was being railroaded.
"I have done absolutely nothing wrong," he said. "I never intended to violate any law."
Blagojevich was arrested last month on corruption charges. U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald reported that Blagojevich had been caught on audiotape putting "a for-sale sign" on his efforts to fill Barack Obama's Illinois Senate seat.
"The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,” Fitzgerald said in a press conference. Fitzgerald, who served as the prosecutor on the case against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney, called Blagojevich's actions "a political corruption crime spree" as the Justice Department released the complaint to the public.
Noting that he was "twice elected by the people," the governor complained about Illinois Senate rules that precluded him from calling witnesses. "Imagine yourself walking in my shoes," he said. "There's been a rush to judgment."
As for the audiotapes, Blagojevich said they include the kind of horse-trading that everybody in politics engages in.
"How can you throw a governor out of office on a criminal complaint and you haven't even proved any criminal conduct?" he asked. "You haven't proved a crime."
But according to the Chicago Sun-Times, even before his speech began, Blagojevich had already packed his bags back at the Mansion and officials had already made plans to swear in the lieutenant governor, Patrick Quinn, who has said for weeks, "I will be ready."
-- Johanna Neuman
Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press