The impeachment trial of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich began today but without Blagojevich. Instead, Blagojevich spoke live to Diane Sawyer this morning on "Good Morning America"as part of a media blitz that includes appearances on "The View" and other talk shows.
Blagojevich has already conceded that he will probably be convicted of corruption charges, but he refuses to resign or attend his trial. Blagojevich repeatedly told Sawyer that the impeachment proceedings are unfair because he has not been allowed to call witnesses.
State Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Ill., also spoke with "GMA," and Blagojevich responded to Murphy's comments on air.
Below is a complete transcript of the interview.
Diane Sawyer: Now, as we said on this morning as the Illinois Senate is convening to possibly vote him out of office, Gov. Rod Blagojevich live. Good morning.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich: Thanks for having me.
Sawyer: I know you have been railing against the process all weekend. I heard that. This morning can we just address the charges against you. Specifically the U.S. attorney has said, and this is a quote from him, "that you tried to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat like a sports agent shopping for the highest bidder." Did you?
Blagojevich: Absolutely not, and I'll have a chance in a criminal case to show my innocence and bring witnesses, and this impeachment trial actually gives me an opportunity, if it was fair, if it allowed me to actually bring witnesses to be able to prove that those allegations are not true. But as the impeachment process exists they won't allow me to bring witnesses like Rahm Emanuel, the president's chief of staff, who has said most recently and publicly I've done nothing wrong.
Sawyer: Again, I want to talk about the process of that later, but let's address again what is out there in the public record right now. What the people of Illinois have already seen and specifically the tapes as they've been quoted by the U.S. attorney who says, by the way, they're not a paraphrase they are specific quotes. Here's this "I've got this thing and it's bleeping golden and I'm just not giving it up for bleeping nothing. I'm not going to do it and can always use it. I can parachute me in there."
You go on to say, "Therefore, I can drive a hard bargain. If I don't get what I want and I'm not satisfied with it, then I'll take the Senate seat myself. It's a bleeping valuable thing. You just don't give it away for nothing." Did you say this?
Blagojevich: I can't get into the specifics of the case. But I could say this, there's a process, a lot of discussions and ideas and there was an underlying effort to end up in a place that did the most for the people of Illinois. The ultimate ...
Sawyer: ... did the most for the people of Illinois, but the U.S. attorney said this was not about politics as usual. This was not political horse trading. This was personal gain, and he goes on at one point here to talk about an occasion apparently when you talk about Mrs. Blagojevich getting appointed to some corporate boards so you could pick up another 150 grand a year or whatever to help you as governor.
Blagojevich: Again, they took snippets of conversations completely out of context. They did not provide all the tapes that tell the whole story and when the whole story comes out you'll see that the effort was to work to have a senator who can best represent Illinois and one that help us create jobs and health care ...