Blagojevich Proclaims Innocence in Feisty Appearance

Posted December 19, 2008 at 2:50pm

Embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) proclaimed his innocence Friday afternoon in Chicago, asking voters to have patience while he defends himself. The the two-term governor is charged with attempting to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat, among other corruption charges. But in his first formal public appearance since he was arrested last week, Blagojevich said he plans to stay in office and fight the allegations brought against him by the Justice Department. “I intend to stay on the job and I will fight this thing every step of the way,” Blagojevich said. “I will fight, I will fight, I will fight until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong. And I’m not going to quit a job that the people hired me to do because of false accusations and the political lynch mob.” The defiant Blagojevich quoted a Rudyard Kipling poem, and even invoked his own mortality in his statement. “I’m not going to do what my accusers and my political enemies have been doing, and that is talk about this case in 30-second sound bytes on ‘Meet the Press’ or on the evening news,” Blagojevich said. “I am dying to answer these charges. I am dying to show you how innocent I am.” Illinois Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn (D), who would succeed Blagojevich and appoint a new Senator if Blagojevich resigned or was impeached, both appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last weekend. At the Illinois Capitol in Springfield, state lawmakers began impeachment proceedings this week against Blagojevich. Legal and political experts warn, however, that evidence for the trial could be difficult, given that the FBI is still investigating Blagojevich. The governor’s refusal to resign leaves him the power to appoint the next Senator from Illinois; however, Senate leaders have warned that they will refuse to seat anyone he names to the office. State lawmakers halted proceedings earlier this week to change the Senate vacancy law from a gubernatorial appointment to a special election — a law that Blagojevich would either have to sign, veto or wait out if it passed. National and Illinois Republicans have blasted Democrats for setting aside the special election bill, which they see as a political ploy to hold the seat in hopes that Quinn can make the appointment instead.