Impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich likened his upcoming Senate trial to "a hanging" Friday and said that he will boycott the proceedings because they're unfair and deny him his constitutional rights.
(Scroll Down To Watch Full Press Conference)
From the AP:
At a news conference in Chicago, he said his constitutional rights are being trampled under the Senate rules because he cannot call the witnesses that he wants.
He also accused fellow Democrats of wanting him out of office so that they can move forward with plans to raise income taxes. Republicans want him out, he said, so that they have an issue on which to campaign when taxes go up.
Blagojevich faces a Senate impeachment trial starting Monday that will determine if he's to remain in office. The Senate rules bar testimony from anyone federal prosecutors say would jeopardize the criminal corruption trial against the two-term governor.
Blagojevich is accused of, among other things, scheming to benefit from his power to name President Barack Obama's replacement in the U.S. Senate.
He has denied any wrongdoing.
Eschewing his now-customary poem, Blagojevich cited an Old West analogy to illustrate the supposed injustice of the Senate impeachment trial:
There was an old saying in the Old West, there was a cowboy who was charged with stealing a horse in town. And some of the other cowboys, especially the guy whose horse was stolen, were very unhappy with that guy.
One of the cowboy's said, "Let's hang him!"
And the other cowboy said, "Hold on! Before we hang him, lets first give him a fair trial. Then we'll hang him."
Under these rules, I'm not even getting a fair trial. They're just hangin' me.
Blagojevich cast his story as a warning to all Illinois residents, saying that a legislature willing to 'hang him' in this manner would be just as likely to do the same to average citizens and that the impeachment process doubles as a "hanging [of] the 12 miillon people of Illinois who twice have elected a governor."
Blagojevich said he should be able to call witnesses in his defense at the Senate trial, naming President Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, Obama's senior advisor Valerie Jarrett and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. as potential witnesses.
But as the AP notes, the Senate rules do allow Blagojevich to call some witnesses. He missed a deadline to submit the names of potential witnesses.
The governor twisted facts or exaggerated them to support his version of events.
He has repeatedly said he wouldn't be allowed to call witnesses in the Senate trial, but that's not correct. Trial rules prohibit witnesses that federal prosecutors feel would interfere with their criminal case, but Blagojevich could have called other people.
He has specifically mentioned wanting to call governors and senators to testify about all the good he's done. Nothing in Senate rules would have barred those witnesses. Blagojevich never asked to have them testify.
In an ironic moment, the governor called on newspaper editorial boards, singling out the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, to rally to his defense in opposing the impeachment rules as a matter of due process.
As he has throughout his contentious tenure as governor, Blagojevich cast himself as a people's crusader brought down by a cabal of crooked, self-serving legislators resentful of his good works:
That's what this is all about. The heart and soul of this is me against the system.
Watch Blagojevich's news conference: