Comparing himself to a cowboy facing a hanging, Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich condemned the state Senate for preparing to remove him from office, so it could raise taxes on the middle class and serve the special interests.
“The heart and soul of this has been a struggle of me against the system,” he said.
Blagojevich’s lead attorney, Edward Genson, has chosen to no longer defend the governor in the criminal case he faces over alleged corruption. “I wish the governor good luck and God speed,” Genson said.
The Illinois House voted to impeach Blagojevich after the US Attorney arrested him under a federal criminal complaint, alleging he conspired to auction off the US Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.
This week the governor characterized himself as a victim who has been targeted by a political power structure he has tried to reform. He said he will boycott the senate impeachment trial, set to begin on Monday, because the rules make it impossible for him to defend himself.
“I am being denied fundamental fairness and due process,” Blagojevich said in 20-minute press conference. “Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence?”
Matt Murphy, a state Senator who was on the Senate panel that made the rules, said the governor was engaging in the “theater of the absurd.” He said the idea of “presumption of innocence” doesn’t apply to an impeachment proceeding.
“We’ve just got to determine if the allegations warrant his removal,” he said.
This week Blagojevich ignored a deadline to request witnesses to be called in his defense at the state senate trial. He said the senate rules prevented him from calling witness who would testify that he did not conspire to sell Obama’s seat. Among the witnesses he said he intended to call: Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel; one of Mr. Obama’s senior advisers, Valerie Jarrett; and Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.