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Illinois gov. opens his Senate impeachment

Illinois gov. opens his Senate impeachment

Impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich presided Wednesday over a tense swearing-in of the state Senate that must ultimately decide whether to oust him, telling the lawmakers he hopes they will "find the truth and sort things out."
The Democratic governor primarily stuck to formalities and was greeted with stony silence during the hour or so he presided over the chamber. He politely applauded as he welcomed by name several of the same state officials who have called on him to resign, including Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, who would become governor if Blagojevich is removed from office.
But as he handed the proceedings over to incoming Senate President and fellow Democrat John Cullerton of Chicago, Blagojevich said he hopes senators will "find the truth and sort things out, to put the business of the people first."
Blagojevich, who has quoted British poets in his last two public appearances since his arrest, then turned to a favorite of Illinois politicians: Abraham Lincoln. He asked the senators who will conduct his trial to be inspired by Lincoln's quote "with malice toward none, with charity for all."
The reference is from Lincoln's second inaugural address, delivered near the end of the U.S. Civil War of 1861-1865, when he implored his countrymen to "bind up the nation's wounds" and work toward peace.
While Blagojevich was still presiding over the chamber, one senator mentioned the governor's upcoming impeachment trial as one of many challenges facing the state. The awkward moment came as Sen. Lou Viverito moved to elect Cullerton the new Senate president, making a point of the nominee's stellar ethics.
"Today we have the opportunity to make one significant and meaningful step toward ... restoring the public's trust," said Viverito, a Democrat.
Blagojevich came to the podium through a back entrance and without ceremony, hitting the gavel to begin the session as is required by the state constitution.
The Illinois House impeached Blagojevich last week on a 114-1 vote, more than a month after his Dec. 9 arrest on corruption charges, including allegations that he tried to auction off President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat . New House members also sworn in Wednesday reaffirmed the vote.
Blagojevich is the state's first governor to face an impeachment trial and the first public official since a circuit judge in 1833 was impeached but acquitted. The Senate's trial is scheduled to start Jan. 26.
Cullerton said he hopes to move quickly with the impeachment trial and finish by Feb. 4.
"You don't want to have the cloud of an impeachment trial hanging over the normal, regular legislative session," he said.


Updated : 2020-12-02 08:13 GMT+08:00