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Blagojevich says he was 'hijacked'

NEW YORK, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday called the impeachment proceeding against him a "hijacking" that prevented him from proving his innocence.

"I view what happened on Thursday as a hijacking by a Legislature that removed a governor and prevented that governor from proving his innocence by denying me the right to bring witnesses in," Blagojevich said on NBC's "Today Show."

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He said he wanted to call witnesses listed in the federal criminal complaint against him, including White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and several members of Congress.

The Senate unanimously voted him out of office and barred him from seeking public office ever again in Illinois. The articles of impeachment 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.

"But it was an unlawful and improper impeachment," Blagojevich said. "So I don't view myself at all as being shamed or disgraced. I view myself, frankly, as being someone who fought real hard for the people and was removed from office because something happened. It was a political opportunity."

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