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New Illinois Senate set for gov. impeachment trial

 Gov. Rod Blagojevich presides over the Illinois Senate Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009, in Springfield, Ill. Blagojevich is required to oversee the swearing...
 Gov. Rod Blagojevich, top center, presides over the Illinois Senate Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009, in Springfield, Ill. Blagojevich is required to oversee...
   Gov. Rod Blagojevich, left, listens as Rev. John F. Canary delivers the invocation as Blagojevich presides over the Illinois Senate Wednesday, Jan....

APTOPIX Illinois Governor

Gov. Rod Blagojevich presides over the Illinois Senate Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009, in Springfield, Ill. Blagojevich is required to oversee the swearing...

Illinois Governor

Gov. Rod Blagojevich, top center, presides over the Illinois Senate Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009, in Springfield, Ill. Blagojevich is required to oversee...

Illinois Governor

Gov. Rod Blagojevich, left, listens as Rev. John F. Canary delivers the invocation as Blagojevich presides over the Illinois Senate Wednesday, Jan....

Hours after impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich convened a new state Senate and urged lawmakers to "find the truth," senators took the first steps Wednesday toward a trial to determine whether he will be ousted from office for corruption and abuse of power.
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 .
The Democratic governor presided over the first meeting of a Senate whose most urgent task is putting him on trial.
Blagovich was greeted by silence as he entered the Senate chamber through a back entrance, took the podium without introduction and banged a gavel to call the session to order. He mostly stuck to the formalities of overseeing the ceremony during the hour or so he presided over the chamber.
But as he handed the proceedings over to incoming Senate President John Cullerton, a fellow Democrat from Chicago, Blagojevich said he hoped senators would "find the truth and sort things out, to put the business of the people first."
He also called on state senators to act "with malice toward none, with charity for all," referring to Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address, delivered near the end of the 1861-1865 U.S. Civil War, when he implored his countrymen to "bind up the nation's wounds" and work toward peace.
Soon after, the Senate took the first formal steps toward a trial, approving rules for the proceedings and swearing in members as jurors. Blagojevich spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said the governor's legal team on Wednesday accepted a summons from the Senate for the impeachment trial.
Senators fell silent and took their seats as two staffers wheeled in a dolly stacked with nine boxes of evidence and files from the House impeachment committee. House-appointed prosecutor David Ellis then read details of the governor's impeachment into the record.
New House members also sworn in Wednesday reaffirmed the vote, with the governor's sister-in-law as the only dissenting vote.
Rep. Deborah Mell, whose sister is married to Blagojevich, is a freshman Democratic representative from Chicago.
Secretary of State Jesse White, a fellow Democrat who had refused to certify Blagojevich's appointment of Roland Burris to the U.S. Senate, presided over the swearing-in of the new Illinois House. White had refused to sign Burris' certification papers because of the criminal allegations against Blagojevich.
Illinois House Speaker spokesman Steve Brown said the second impeachment vote was needed because the previous chamber's vote had expired, and legislators wanted to be sure the move stands for the upcoming Senate trial.
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.
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Associated Press writers John O'Connor and Andrea Zelinski contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-07-28 21:16 GMT+08:00