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Blagojevich to speak at impeachment trial

Jan. 28, 2009 at 4:52 PM   |   Comments

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will speak to state senators determining whether he should be removed from office, state Senate President John Cullerton said.

Blagojevich won't take questions, but will deliver a closing argument Thursday, ending his boycott of the proceedings while claiming they were unfair, the Chicago Tribune reported. Blagojevich has been arguing his position on a variety of television talk shows from New York.

Under the trial rules Blagojevich, accused of using his office for personal and financial gain, first must ask permission to speak, which the Tribune said the Senate was expected to approve. Senators had expected to hear the final prosecution witness Wednesday and a single closing argument Thursday.

"I've been informed that the governor would like to come here tomorrow and (ask) leave of us to file an appearance," Cullerton told the body sitting as judge and jury at the state Capitol in Springfield. "We would have to give him permission to do that, I would urge us all to give him that leave so he can argue as his own attorney."

Under the rules, Blagojevich could speak for up to 90 minutes and the House prosecutor would have a 30-minute rebuttal before deliberations begin.

Blagojevich spokeswoman Katie Ridgway said she could "confirm the governor will be down in Springfield to speak before the Senate" to make the closing argument.

The articles of impeachment passed by the state House accuse Blagojevich of a number of efforts to secure personal gain or campaign contributions in exchange for official acts. He also was arrested, but has yet to be indicted, on federal corruption charges, including accusations of trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.

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